Fact: I love reading advice columns. It’s mostly a way to see into other people’s worlds and usually gawk.
Anyways, this question from last week’s Dear Prudence really stuck out to me, in part because I also work with individuals & families in crisis. I remember my high school latin teacher, Ms. Ash, used to say “it’s all relative” as a response to a number of discussions. As I got older and became more involved in my career I realized the importance of this statement in so many ways. I even have to remind my clients of this sometimes when they feel bad about asking for assistance because someone else might have it worse off.
And if I was Prudence, I would have shortened my response to “get over it, everything is relative and be glad that you know how much worse things could be and grateful that the only thing your partner can complain about are minor inconveniences.”
I’m a crisis counselor who works the night shift in an emergency room at a major trauma center. At work, I see people with everything from new cancer diagnoses, to horrible accidents, to child abuse, to maiming and death. It’s a very stressful job, but I’ve come to love it in most respects. It is the people outside of my work that I can no longer stand. My partner complains about the little inconveniences of his day; my friend is mad at another friend because of “Blah blah blah.” People come to me because I’m a good listener, but I’m starting to get irritated with baseless complaining. Compared to not only my patients, but also to most people in the world, my circle is unbelievably safe and privileged. How can I tell them I don’t want to hear it anymore and that they need to learn some gratitude? I’m starting to wish I came home to an empty house.