Big Girl Panties
I interrupt my normal blogging content in order to get a rant off my chest. The last few weeks, ok, months, have been long and frustrating. As the final straw, I got a flat tire yesterday morning on the way to get a haircut which was overdue for a month (my hair is still way too long and my hairdresser went on vacation, so I’m going to look this way for another week. Trust me, it is NOT pretty. I look like Beethoven. The composer, not the dog.) Because of all this, I am cranky, curmudgeonly, and just plain out of patience, so I am going to indulge myself in a rant. If you are easily offended, or do not wish to see this side of me, may I suggest you stop reading now? For those of you brave enough (or foolish enough 🙂 ) to continue reading, thank you for indulging me. Also, if you read this and wonder if it is addressed to you, please do not ask me. This is based on an amalgam of behaviors I have seen over a long period of time and is addressed to no one in particular. But by all means, if you think it applies, you might want to stop and think what you’d like to do about that. One last note, I am not claiming to be perfect, I do more than my fair share of stupid stuff when I post, but this is my blog and I’m allowed to rant here.
Dear Internet Users (especially those who post on forums about therapy),
Please put on your big girl panties before venturing out to post. If you make broad, sweeping statements about categories of therapists and/or pick a particular way of practicing or a particular boundary and declare that anathema for all therapists, then the other people in therapy who go to one of those therapists is probably going to get either a little angry or a little defensive or both. We tend to feel strongly about our therapists and so we take offense to criticisms of them, especially those accusations we believe are baseless. If you want to post that kind of opinion, you have every right to do so, but you do not have the right to demand that everyone be perfectly accepting of your attitude or that any questioning of your statement is out of line. If you express a strong opinion, people will respond, sometimes by agreeing, sometimes by not. If you do not like knowing that some people will not agree and will even call upon you to defend your opinion, please do not post on a public forum.
Please also understand that you are entering a community and like all human communities there are unspoken understandings in how that culture operates. Take some time, read some posts, try to discern the rules of the road. You do not have to get it perfect, most people are very understanding of new people not yet knowing the ropes. But you should enter with a certain level of humility and with a willingness to learn. This includes not being offended that someone who has been posting for years longer than you, and has put in the effort to build relationships, is getting more replies than you. If you wish to get that level of replies, you need to pay your dues, and build relationships also. This is not a clique, this is how human relationships work. When you put effort into relationships, you tend to get support back. Yes, it will take you awhile to form the same level of relationships, but it took that person you see as so privileged a while also. EVERYONE is new at some point.
And, human beings being human beings, and adult relationships being reciprocal, do not expect to just show up when you need support, get that support and disappear and get away with it forever. On most support forums, all the other people are your peers, also dealing with their own life struggles but who are still willing to volunteer their time and effort and insight to help support you. If everyone only takes from the community it falls apart. By all means, take breaks when you’re not up to interacting, and when you’re facing a crisis, it’s ok to lean on other people; that’s what support is all about. But there should be times when you are there willing to be the person leaned upon or willing to offer support or insight. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, you cannot always expect to take and never give anything back. Personally, if I see that kind of pattern in a member, you will no longer get responses from me. And yes, I know it’s scary to respond to other people and every other person who posts a response sounds so much more intelligent and insightful than you. How do I know that? Because I feel that way when I read other people’s responses. 🙂 Post anyway. We are all unique and therefore, bring our uniqueness to any given situation. Your point of view and your experience are more valuable than you think they are.
Thank you, I feel better now. 🙂
PS If you are going to comment, please keep it civil and respectful, or it won’t last long. Did I mention I’m a little short of patience right now? That does not mean you have to agree with me or you are not allowed to challenge me about what I said (see rant above) but keep it civil and respectful and I will strive to do the same when I reply. So no name calling and no psychoanalysis of anyone else’s motivations for saying what they do. The role of therapist is already filled in most of our lives. And you’d be practicing without a license. 😀