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I wear many hats. I am a Wife, Mother, Daughter, Granddaughter, Friend, Dental Assistant, Student, Big Sister, Daughter-in-law, Sister-in-law, Chef, Gardener, Nurse, Maid, Plumber, Seamstress...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Lesson in Judging Others

I have a patient who has been struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. I've nick named him "my druggie patient" whenever I am talking about him to others because I didn't want to say what his real name was. However after speaking to him last week I don't think I will call him that anymore. Yes, it is a fact that he is a "druggie" but I realize now that it's not an appropriate nick name. In addition to his substance abuse problem he has developed some other problems as well such as mental health problems. However, I will now call him "B". Let me explain why...

Over the years that I have worked in our dental office "B" and I have butted heads a few times due to his drug and alcohol problems. He has either come in for an appointment or showed up unannounced while he was high or drunk. This is simply unacceptable...period. So I turn him away and ask him to leave. He has pushed the limit a few times. So his last few appointments he has done really well. He has showed up sober. He is trying to clean up his life. I pray for him and I really hope he does. He is so young and has a young child to think about. I wish him the best in life. I told him last week that I was proud of him and glad to see him trying so hard this time. I told him that this is the "B" that I like to see and talk too. He said, "I can tell!" I thought this was funny because he was probably not used to have an actual conversation with me since we usually just butted heads. Somehow we got on the topic of judging others. While talking to sober "B" and listening to him tell me of his time being sober vs his time being high, trying to weed out his bad influence friends, bad influence girlfriends, his job search and everything else, I could see just how smart and insightful he really is. "B" told me how he once had a house, a decent car and a job. He told me how he would drive around in his decent car and see others in a crappy car, with no job or even homeless and think to himself "that will never be me". Then "B" told me that exactly the opposite came true. He lost his house, his car, his family and himself. He became homeless. He got into a lot of trouble. He's been to jail a number of times due to his bad choices. He told me how he knows that it is all his fault. That he blames no one but himself. He told me of a teacher he knows, who is now in big trouble, that is addicted to the same things he is...heavy drugs. He told me how through his journey he's met people that he always thought were "normal" and had it all together yet they had these secret lives. Secret lives that could cause them to lose everything like he did. He told me how stupid he thinks these people are and how he wishes he knew all this before it happened to him. He said, I know how people see me. I know how people look at me. I don't blame them. I try very hard not to judge anyone anymore and yet sometimes I still find myself doing it. I guess everyone has their story.

So this conversation has stuck with me since talking with "B". I was just so struck by his words. It wasn't something I'd ever expected him to say. You see when "B" comes to our office I never know what to expect. Will he be high today? Will he be drunk? How will he behave? I won't lie..."B" makes me nervous and I don't trust him. I have every right not to trust him. His past behavior has proven that I shouldn't. When he walks into our office I instantly judge him to see if he is on anything. I have too because we can not work or someone in that condition and it puts me in an unsafe position. I look at how he is walking. I look at how he is acting and talking. I make sure he is looking me in the eye. I do this because I know the sober "B" and I know the high/drunk "B". While I am sure "B" knows what I am doing when I am doing this I have to admire his courage to endure it and to learn from it everyday. Sure, "B" has had some set backs but this is the furthest I've seen him come. I really hope that he is on a new path now. A good path.

So learn from "B" and watch your judgmental thoughts. We are always so quick to judge others. It's human nature but it's still not right.

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