I was still kind of on this high today after having such a good day in the clay studio yesterday. I'm at work, walking around, la dee da, and a client passes me in the hallway as I'm off to lunch and says "Do you mind?"
"Mind what?" I asked.
"Mind if I ask you a question?"
"What question?" (sometimes the questions are too personal to answer)
"Well, why don't you dress more respectably? If you just brushed your hair and wore a nice shirt you'd look respectable."
I was pretty much floored. I lamely said, "I like my clothes..." and walked away, off to lunch, alone :(
I was pretty hurt and angry. I went to the cafeteria and wrote in my journal first thing, because I had to get this feeling out somewhere and I didn't have anyone to talk to right then. Cascading sadness :( :(
Wow he made me feel really terrible. It really brought me back to comments I've heard throughout my life about not dressing well enough. There was a time when I was a teenager and I wore pajamas all day every day...
But anyway! What! I felt so defensive and sad. It took writing all of that out in my journal to be able to take a step back and really think about the situation. If he hadn't been a client, I could have said something really nasty right back. That made me remember who he is and look beyond his comment. I know him, I know how vulnerable he is. And I wondered, did someone just say this to him recently? Did it hurt when he heard it like it hurt when he said it to me? Because saying "You would look more respectable" doesn't even sound like something he would ever say!
Where I work it is important to talk to clients about hygiene and dress, but I guess this is just a reminder about how it's also important to be sensitive about it. Just because someone isn't taking care of herself doesn't mean she doesn't think about it. I had a lot of reasons for dressing like a shlub in high school, and none of them were that I didn't care how I looked.
My reaction was wanting to say it to someone else, pass on the poison, but instead I'm taking it in, processing it, and putting it out here and in my journal. I guess that's part of being a therapist. If I were in a one-on-one with someone who thought I reminded them of an abusive parent, I'd have to hold a lot of poison like that, so this was basically nothing in comparison. I wish I had been able to do it faster, though, and been able to say something in the hallway. I guess I just wasn't prepared! Talk about a surprise attack!!
I mean, let's not make any pretenses of maturity here. Of course I immediately went to the bathroom to check my outfit/hair in the mirror. Don't worry, I looked cute. (HA!)