tattoos are reminders, small scrapbooks to me. they are reminders of times past, people in my life, and experiences. the one i share with you today isn’t about a story i lived, but about one i want to live. a story i remind myself every day to live. sharing it with you couldn’t come at a better time.
this piece i got on my shoulder so i could see it every day. it’s in the mirror every time I look and in the corner of my eyes every time i look down. “do no harm” is the first in the code of ethics therapists take once they begin practice. i first heard it used in graduate school, as it was repeated over and over again. “above all else, do no harm”. when i heard about tennessee voting to allow therapists to refuse services to people whose lifestyle they disagreed with (ie: the LGBTQ+ community and other religions), i was inspired more than ever to get this piece. therapists are supposed to be unbiased. our own values, our own beliefs aren't to play into how we provide counsel to others.
i’ve been a practicing therapist for six years, in mental health for almost ten years. professionally, i don’t disclose my faith or values, because that would be considered unethical. i have never turned away a client because of who they were attracted to, who they worshipped, or anything else. i’ve worked with murderers, prostitutes, strippers, thieves, high-ranking gang members, gay, lesbian, transgender, depressed, manic, suicidal, homicidal, and everything in-between. i’ve had to seek extra supervision to be able to serve them to the best of my ability, i’ve referred to other therapists whom I knew had a background or expertise in serving their needs, but i have never turned them away. we live in a world that makes mental health almost impossible to get or shameful to seek, yet send out a battle cry when chaos ensues.
this “do no harm” that is on my skin forever, is to let people know that i meet them with compassion, love, and the readiness to help.
i can’t even fathom what parents and families are going through right now in the wake of sunday’s mass-shooting in Orlando. there are families who are still waiting to hear about their loved ones. there are families that are mourning someone they loved so much. there are people who are agonizing over words they may have said before that night. there is someone who lost the love of their life that night. there are sisters and brothers who lost their siblings that night. there have been thoughts and prayers showered over them, yet I’m sure that’s not enough to cope with the pain they are feeling right now. and I know, because I’ve heard/read the comments, there are people using this tragedy to spread hate and harm. despite whatever you believe, no one should ever be murdered because of love.
there is very little that i can do to take back what happened in Orlando on sunday. but i am not helpless. these three little words are my daily reminder that i have to do something every day that closes out hate. not just words but taking action, every day. every little bit makes something much bigger.