I believe in evil. I wish I could begin this essay with a joyous and optimistic statement; perhaps declare something about puppies, cookies, or loving-kindness. You know, something that when read fully warms the human heart of its reader. This, I’m afraid to say, is simply a fantasy, conjured in some Freudian sense so that I might bear to listen to perhaps one more very sad tale, for I am a therapist.
And not just any old therapist with the couch, the yellow legal pad, and the “How does that make you feel” uttered once every 90 seconds. I work kids. Yes, I too as an innocent and Pollyannaish undergraduate pompously announced to anyone who would listen, “I want to make a difference…I want to work with kids.” But these aren’t your ordinary kids.
Imagine for a second, if you will, sitting in front of a damaged pintsized being hour after hour, day after day, hearing the stories most people choose to pretend don’t exist and shove under a tightly-locked unconscious. Imagine hearing the stories of abuse, neglect, and even worse, the stories of broken hearts. They don’t prepare you for that in grad school.
In my young and innocent days of wanting to save the world, perhaps I could have begun this essay with something about cookies, or about believing Louis Armstrong when he harmoniously attests, “What a wonderful world.” But now, after vicariously living the countless heart-wrenching and vexatious tragedies with the most innocent of creatures, most days all I can say is, “There truly is evil in this world.”
But therapy is an amazing profession because just when I think my heart is about to collapse under the weight of pain I voluntarily welcome into my office everyday, that ONE walks in. That ONE who has faced more pain and heartache than anyone could stand to bear, that ONE who on the outside looks like the most frail and brittle being ever to be graced with a soul, that ONE who, unwanted, stands with dignity and says in ways words cannot, “I will not be broken.”
Being a child therapist has taught me many unexpected and invaluable lessons. Amongst others, I now believe in appreciation for what I have as well as appreciation for what I don’t. I now believe in the healing power of genuineness and of the simple act of listening. I believe in forgiving the jerk who just cut me off in traffic. I believe in laughing at myself and allowing others to laugh along with me. And I believe that there are no true victims in this world, only wounded warriors. But perhaps most of all, I believe that while there is evil in this world, and while atrocious things happen to the world’s most innocent, within every single one of them lies an instinctive and dynamic will to survive, and it is up to us less-wounded to ensure that while their homes, their bones, and their hearts may be broken, their spirit never will.
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