I had used the line before, but it was different this time. I’m not sure why this client clung to me (metaphorically, of course), but sometimes that’s the nature of crisis-work. There becomes a trauma-bond that they feel when you come and see them in the most vulnerable state, and then six weeks later they are crushed when you tell them that they have changed, are stronger, and need to keep moving forward without you. It’s the nature of crisis work, nothing personal, I tell them up-front, but there were those clients who had lots of feelings when it came to that final goodbye.
And so, my Family-Advocate and I, sat in the moldy smelling family room, with her mom and dad and sister and long-time therapist, and we had a final family meeting. And the dad, overwhelming nervous about the prospect of this crisis happening again, asked “what do we do if it happens again. We don’t want to go back,” and I replied:
When you’re driving you look through the windshield. You need to glance in the rear-view mirror to see where you’ve come from, and what might be behind you, but if you stare in the rearview mirror you’ll crash. You have to keep your eyes focused on what’s ahead. The forward journey. Glance back, but keep moving forward.
There was a moment of hush in the room. It wasn’t anything magical, I’d said it a hundred times, and it’s something I believe in, but in that moment it hit the family in a spot that they needed. Even the therapist, who had been working with this young lady for years, and was a long-time therapy supervisor, was stunned. I might have blushed because half the time I think I’m fucking everything up and about 1 step away from being found a fraud.
I thought of this experience this morning, as I buckled Potamus into the car. We’re a month early, but we turned his car seat around to face forward. His legs had been scrunched for awhile now, and we thought it best. And he was Mr. Nonchalant about the whole thing, clearly based on the picture above. And as I drove I kept catching glimpses of him in the backseat and had to remind myself to keep my eyes on the road. I could state at his wild blonde hair and intense eyes forever. I could get stuck in the nostalgia of the first car trip with him, all 7lbs, bundled up so snugly as we drove home from the hospital. I know that nostalgia, sentiment, memories are good…really good…but I can’t live there, in the past. We move forward, driving off into the sunrise, and work, and daycare, and a new Holiday-Week, and it’s okay.