Dear Abby: I was recently hired for a job I have wanted for years. I am a counselor for troubled teens. I love it, and I empathize with those I work with. (Ten years ago, I was a teen placed in a similar facility for some of the same reasons.)
The problem is, when I was in a dark period of my life, I was a cutter. I still have deep scars on one arm that are noticeable. How do I handle this now that I’m in the psychological field? I don’t wish to go into detail about my past, as that would be poor boundaries as an employee and counselor. But it’s hard to avoid with hot summer weather here and my past literally “on my sleeve.”
Please help. Some actions have permanent consequences. I hope this will remind other cutters that their wounds may be something they wish they could undo once they are emotionally healed.
– Nameless in America
Dear Nameless: I hope your comments will remind other cutters not only that actions have consequences, but also that there are more effective solutions for emotional pain than self-injury.
This is something you should discuss with your employers. My thinking is, if your clients see your scars, it may help them to talk about their own cutting, which would be therapeutic.
Rescind trust, set the record
Dear Abby:Last year a neighbor confided to me that she had been sexually assaulted. In an effort to both show and invite compassion, I told her I empathized with her because I had been assaulted on multiple occasions as a child and teen decades ago. I have now learned that this woman has told other neighbors that I “had sex with a lot of men,” but she failed to put it in the context that I was a child victim of multiple predators.
How should I respond to this? Should I ignore the situation or explain the truth to the neighbors? I don’t know whether to confront the woman who divulged the information. I am shocked that she’d do such a thing. I have no shame or guilt issues over what happened to me because I worked through that long ago. But I’m at a loss about what, if anything, I should do. I already have learned the painful lesson that she wasn’t worthy of my trust and has serious issues of her own. What are your thoughts on this matter?
Dear Re-Victimized: You have every right to be angry with the blabbermouth. Because the word is out, set the record straight with the neighbors who were kind enough to tell you your confidence wasn’t respected. And in the future, I wouldn’t blame you if you avoided the woman who started the rumors whenever possible, and let her know why.