I have had a pretty sheltered life growing up. I’ll be the first to admit that. Grew up in a pretty decent home. A relatively normal family. Had a pretty good upbringing. I’ve been lucky. And sheltered.
But my job has opened my eyes to a lot more than just what the media presents. Why do I say this? Well, in my Book Club, I’m the youngest member and the other three individuals are in their thirties and forties. We have read books like The Slap or Jasper Jones, all of which have some unhappy themes or things we don’t always encounter in day to day life. Some of the members have found these themes confronting or even unimaginable. And then, I want to read the book Room. However, none of the members want to read it because of the confronting themes involving a child. And I think that’s the main thing even with the other books. When there’s something negative happening to children, because they all have kids and live a sheltered life (which I have had too!) they find it a bit too much to handle. Even if it is fiction.
I, on the other hand, am able to distance myself.
Because I hear these things first hand.
Things most people normally see on the telly, I tend to view much closer to home (so to speak). I have had kids and teenagers tell me about physical abuse. About domestic violence. About sexual abuse. Most of these have been horrific stories. But I have been able to listen to these. And not cry. Or cringe. I have somehow been able to distance myself and not get emotionally involved. I understand it’s a shame and it’s horrible and unfair. But I can listen to it and provide them with strategies to cope instead (for those who want it I mean).
I guess due to my profession, I have learnt how to distance myself from horror stories. I am in a completely different world from where I grew up. Years ago, I led such a sheltered life I didn’t even know things like sexual abuse happened to young children. And from people known to them. Even when I was doing my bachelors, I wasn’t sure how I would cope as a psychologist given I was such a sensitive person. I was (and still sometimes am) able to cry at the drop of a hat. So what changed? I guess I just became more professional.
I wonder though — is it a good thing?
I mean, it’s good that I can distance myself when I am with my clients (After all, they don’t want to see their psychologist freak out!). But I find that when I watch news on the telly on such matters or read novels about such issues, I have the same feeling. The distance. The barrier. It sickens me but not to the extent it seems to sicken or scare or disgust other people not in this profession. Have I just become cold? And unable to feel?
I don’t necessarily need an answer. But just thought I’d put it out there. Most of my friends here are psychologists and in the same boat as me. And it took Book Club members who are in completely different professions like architecture, finance or media to make me realise just how different the world I reside in is. Some people could go through their entire lives without being touched or faced by issues such as these. And I have heard so much in three years and given that it’s a profession I intend to continue in, I am sure there’s more to come.
I guess it’s no wonder I’m as cynical as I am.
Until next time,