Dedicated to my clients – who came to me in their darkest hours, and allowed me the opportunity to sit with them. Their will to survive inspires me.
It has been almost three years since I spent an extensive amount of time working in both substance addiction, and domestic and family violence. As I reflect on the phenomena of vocation, and the path it inevitably led me to, I rest in knowing that what began as curriculum-informed research, turned into meeting with the broken, and walking with them through the valley.
Often, as I met with clients, grief would fester through a veil of preconceived ideas of how life should be. And are we not, as humans, united in such a way? With visions and dreams of how our lives will prevail, and everything we hope and pray it to be.
Whether they were hurt by their own actions or were victims of another, my clients found themselves at points in their lives where they were very much aware of their own emotional turmoil. Increasingly withdrawn, and often in states of shock, such persons were unable to see a light within themselves. They wore anger, and sadness, and guilt like winter clothes layered over fragility. A cloud of grey very much shadowed them, and they were prone to a high level of judgment by the world.
I am no more entitled than the people who sat in front of me, but to be invited to encounter their sorrow so vividly was an honour. I saw people who felt paralysed attend therapeutic sessions, week after week – often travelling a great distance by foot or bus. They embarked on a mission of faith to gain some sort of insight into their internal workings. I saw my clients strive to maintain some level of objectivity, as hard as that was, after having their hurt shared and spoken of publicly. In the face of extreme adversity, I witnessed the walking wounded find constructive ways to not only survive, but to live. In the moments where longing ached and stillness screamed, where life felt extinguished, I saw sparks of courage.
There is a certain amount of learning education can teach you. The rest, I believe, is a measure between occurrence and time. And although we may never understand why things have happened the way they have, there is strength in ability to trust and to accept. Once my clients found even an inch of solace, within all too familiar stormy oceans, they saw land.