When I became a counselor and sought to publish a book, I was told, “No one will represent you unless you have a platform; unless you have an audience.”
Basically, I was told if you don’t post on social media and have a blog, you won’t get a book deal.
This will surprise you, but I am not one who feels comfortable putting my life out there for all to see, but I’ve grown used to it. I played the game, got an agent, got a book deal, got a book, and as the years passed I’ve accepted the fact that I need to show you who I am.
I’m in the habit of posting, and chatting, and liking, and I’ve come to adore the many friends I’ve made in this techno world.
But you can’t believe the grief I take from my friends about my participation on Facebook. At every, and I mean EVERY gathering, someone makes a comment about Facebook, and then everyone turns to me and says something sweet or teasing, but I can tell they think I’m weird.
It’s okay. They’re my friends and they love me.
However, there’s one thing I haven’t gotten used to and probably never will:
I’ve had three or four people in the last dozen years tell me,
That’s not who you are.
They say this whenever their image of who I am supposed to be doesn’t match with who they say or believe I am. This shakes me to the core because it’s as if they’re saying half of me doesn’t exist.
As a Licensed Profession Counselor, I’ve learned the concept of projection: Let’s say you meet a lady and she reminds you of your favorite Aunt Charlene, the one who howls with laughter and smooches you every times she sees you. Because you associate the lady with Charlene, you immediately like her, and you project all your Aunt Charlene expectations onto this new lady. Except the new lady is not Aunt Charlene.
A similar term is transference. Mostly I feel positive transference, and healthy love, for my clients, but once or twice I’ve had negative transference. I start seeing a client through my lens of icky history, and then I am no longer doing good for the client. For that person’s best interest I refer him or her to another counselor.
Everyone engages in projection and transference. All of us carry our stuff through the world—-our aches, our histories, our loves, our losses, especially our expectations—and occasionally as my friend Sharon says,
“My stuff bumps into your stuff.”
We don’t mean for it to happen, but when I bump into you with my stuff and you don’t respond the way the way I expect you to, it throws me off. I get hurt. I accuse you of letting me down.
And you do that with me.
Before I became a counselor I don’t ever remember anybody telling me, “This is not who you are,” so being a counselor must somehow fit into the equation. The three or four of the people who have told me “This is not who you are” point to my job title as proof.
With that as background, I have a confession to make:
Counselors are just people.
Hopefully we’ve worked through our painful stories so we won’t avoid your story and do damage to you. And hopefully we’ve learned what to do with our pain when others disappoint us. Hopefully our years in grad school have given us a few tools for helping people.
But becoming counselors didn’t make us perfect.
I’m sorry but I need to tell you:
I still get angry when a business (or politician, or news story) upsets me. Sometimes I vent publically. Most times I don’t.
I still wake up crabby sometimes. Not nearly as much as I used to because I’ve learned what I can do to reset my thoughts, beliefs, and actions.
I still get hurt when I think we’re friends and you clobber me on Facebook, phonecall, or email when I’m least expecting it. I don’t mind you disagreeing; it’s just the way you do it that hurts.
I still tell my kids to cheer up when they’re telling me about their pain. Then I remember I don’t do that to my clients.
I’m still human. I still have feelings. I still make mistakes.
As a child I thrived on pleasing and performing. Making people happy was my M.O.
I try not to do that anymore because it’s not healthy.
I’m sad if I disappoint you. I’m sad if your projections of me don’t fit your expectations.
But I’m glad I’m me. It’s who I am.
Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty teacher at Colorado Christian University.
She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice."