Practice Perspectives

My goal is to be able to answer the phone without concern about who might be calling or what they might want from me.

Sometimes the caller says something like this:

“My fiancé says you got his divorce in 1985 and the Clerk’s office says they can’t find a copy of it.  We have to have it so we can get a marriage license for our wedding on Friday.”

I politely explain that I have no memory of the case and that no file survives.  Meanwhile, my awfulizer cranks up.  Did I somehow screw up that long-ago divorce?  Are the parties going to file a grievance?  Could I still get sued? OH NOOOO…

I got into this line of work to help people, thinking that as long as I kept trying to do that and did it as well as I could, no one would be upset with me.  It ain’t necessarily so.  In fact, it’s silly to try and manage other people’s feelings and expectations, especially when it is clear that without help, I often cannot manage my own.

“As well as I can” does not and can never mean perfectly.  If I have made a mistake, I can acknowledge it, attempt its correction, accept the result, and move on.  I can also recall that others may be as imperfect as I am, and may have as much or more difficulty dealing with negative emotions as I do.

Those of us who are in recovery are fortunate indeed.  We have been given the tools we need.  Now, if I can only remember to use them the next time the phone rings.

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