“I absolve you for being human!” That’s what my friend said to me when I told her of my mistake. “I absolve you for being human,” and then she added, “And you could absolve yourself, too!”
I try hard to get it right. I had tried hard for about 20 minutes to avoid this particular mistake, and I thought I had, but then someone pointed out to me that the very thing I had been trying to avoid had manifested just as I secretly feared it would.
I wonder if the fear of being judged for getting it wrong (especially in public) holds back many practitioners from putting themselves out there and making themselves more visible to potential clients. I know the idea is to stay hidden under the veil of being “the blank screen” onto which clients can project their view of the world, and so bring out their transference. But maybe there’s just a teensy little bit of fear that we might be seen as ordinary people; and then the truth would be out that we are really no different from those normal, mistake making mortals to whom we offer our help. If clients saw us in our true colours, if they knew how much of a mess we really are behind the role of the therapist, behind that convenient blank screen, maybe they wouldn’t be so quick to catch hold of the hope that we can offer them something more.
When that kind person brought to my attention that I had made a mistake, I immediately thought, “See, that’s what happens when you put yourself out there.” And the part of me that wants to live my life from the safety of the broom closet had her moment of victorious righteousness. But there’s a bigger, braver part of me that knows that that safety is an illusion. The bigger, braver part of me knows the truth of the saying, “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” And that goes whether it’s love of another human being, or love of the enormous abundance of the world we inhabit.
So when my friend said, “I absolve you for being human,” it really hit home. The gift of humanity is that we always have a choice. We get to decide what we want. And I want more than brooms and dust pans. So I thanked her for her gift, and closed the door of the broom closet behind me as I left.