Waiting to Have Patience

My internal reaction to many events in my life, large and small, important and less than important, is:

Hurry up, dammit. I want/need/deserve this NOW.

Patience is something that I strive to work on every day, because every day, something happens which gives me pause to slow myself down.

My paternal grandfather used to say: Patience is a virtue and virtue is a grace, and it all comes together to make a pretty face. He would say this all sing-song, and even as an eight year old, it would drive me absolutely bananas. I hated it! And now at 25, I think maybe I hated the rhyme so much because I knew even then, that I was not patient.

I’ve always wanted things- people, situations, experiences, opportunities-to materialize right when I have had the thought that I want them.

That girl I met? I want her now.

That house we’re trying to buy? I want it now.

That vacation or trip I want to take? I want it now.

That book I want to read, that training I want to attend, that party I want to be at? I want to do it NOW.

How do you cultivate patience? What do you do to keep yourself present with the people and experiences you have already?

Byron Katie would tell me: “You know how you know when you have what you want or need? You have it. You know how you know when you don’t need or want something? You don’t have it.”

patience

Clarifying Values & What’s Important

I have been stressed out since my meeting with my professor. Luckily, I had social engagements planned beforehand for the weekend which all allowed me to get out and do things with people who care about me. I still found myself drifting off and zoning out, thinking about all of this crap. I told J on Friday: I don’t really feel like going out, I don’t really feel like doing this, but I think I probably should. And I’m glad I did. My counselor affirmed that as well (I saw her for a second appointment on Saturday to talk about everything): Make sure to schedule time to not think about all of this. It will be really important in allowing what’s important to you to rise to the surface.

So, in happy news: Friday night I had a fabulous date with a fabulous woman (yummy wine + The L Word + lady sex = AMAZING). Saturday night J and I went out for a little bit to the Velvet Rope (it was super dead there but I got to see my fave male stripper). Sunday night we had a really fun hang-out and movie night time with some of our besties (and watched “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy,” which was surprisingly good and I actually really enjoyed!!)

My counselor recommended that I try to clarify what is important to me to guide my decision making. She asked me, What floats to the surface with all of this? Here are some of the points I have sussed out so far:

calrify-values

1. I want to end dancing on my own terms, not on someone else’s. I don’t think I will have closure and the resolution I want otherwise. Dancing has been about self-empowerment on a number of levels, and so to end because someone else told me I cannot do it (for whatever reason) would be highly unsatisfying. Being bullied into quitting dancing is not okay for me.

2. Dancing has become more and more political to me, and my ability to dance has taken on more macro level importance: sex worker rights, un-shame-ing (i.e., empowerment of) and allowing space for female sexuality, etc. My personal act of dancing in the way that I do it has political implications of disturbing stereotypical ideas of what it means to be a stripper, what female sexuality looks like and can be, what it means to be a woman, what it means to be an activist. I can’t ignore the broader implications of engaging in sex work (and what it would mean to have a professor tell me I cannot do it because it is “unethical”).

3. I have worked really hard to be out as myself with most people in most contexts. I don’t intend to give it up. Being out is one of my core values.

I am sure there will be other main points if importance that come up for me in the coming weeks, but this was a good start that I had over the weekend. I can start to see some potential paths take more shape, and I am confident that as long as I figure out what is important to me and stick by that, that I will make the decision that is right for me.

Thank you to everyone for your support and love. I have been overwhelmed this weekend by everyone around me (in-person, via email, on Facebook, on here) that has shown me support. Thank you.

Stripping, Counseling Ethics, and Personal Values

So I had a meeting with one of my professors to discuss the fact that I dance and my anxiety around coming out to my cohort during a class presentation next week. What ensued was a very kind conversation in which I unexpectedly cried, and agreed with a lot of things that she talked to me about- primarily the ethical dilemma I will face if and when I have a client that has seen me perform (and yes, perform naked– the sexuality of it is the key piece here).

I came home and immediately broke down (I had been holding in everything during a three hour class). J didn’t really know what to do with me. He held me and got angry and confused on my behalf. It was helpful.

And basically where I am at right now is this:

What feels more unethical to me is to perpetuate a system that sees sex, sexuality, and female sexual empowerment as sinful, dirty, slutty, and abhorrent. I will not not go to our swingers’ clubs or to nude beaches or to strip clubs or gay bars or poly gatherings or dance because of the possibility that I might run into future clients. I will not not live my life in some tiny little box when I have done so much to live in a vast, fluid, and dynamic world.

There is something quite different to me about having an intimate and loving relationship with someone while simultaneously expecting to fulfill a professional role in the mental health care of that person’s life. Knowing a client in other superficial ways are quite different to me than intentionally creating a confusing and complicated layered relationship with someone.

[The code of ethics for MFTs stipulates that you, as a therapist, must not have sex with a client. Okay. And to refrain from having sex with a previous client for at least two years after termination of the therapist-client relationship. Hm, okay. Seems arbitrary, but okay. And with regards to multiple relationships, the code states:

Marriage and family therapists are aware of their influential positions with respect to clients, and they avoid exploiting the trust and dependency of such persons. Therapists, therefore, make every effort to avoid conditions and multiple relationships with clients that could impair professional judgment or increase the risk of exploitation. Such relationships include, but are not limited to, business or close personal relationships with a client or the client’s immediate family. When the risk of impairment or exploitation exists due to conditions or multiple roles, therapists document the appropriate precautions taken. 

This is vague, and leaves a lot of gray area to be dealt with, and is in fact the basis for my ethics paper this semester- how to behave as a minority therapist seeking to work within minority communities (queer and poly, specifically). And this also relates to my potential multiple relationship with clients who could also be or were my customers in the strip club.]

My professor’s ethical dilemma example:
What if a couple comes to you for therapy, and one of the partners, let’s say the man, has seen you dance? What if you don’t realize it, but he does, and they continue coming to see you, and then his partner, a woman, finds out after a couple of months? What will that do to her?

My response during our meeting was: Yes, that’s really complicated. I hadn’t thought about that yet. That’s really complicated.

My response now:
If I were to realize when a new client walked in, I would be up-front about it, and offer to refer the person to another therapist. If I didn’t know right away, and the client realized later on and told me, I would refer the client to another therapist.

I am not about to further stigmatize or oppress my various sexual minority communities (queer, poly, sex worker) or myself by not allowing myself to be who I am in order to “protect” a client. This is life, and people deserve to live their lives. Including therapists. Including me.

Any readers out there who have had to navigate this in various ways? Please drop me a line 🙂