Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Don't Cut off Your Nose to Spite Your Face" (without using the actual phrase or litera (02/14/08)
TITLE: A Knock on the Door
By Emily Gibson
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Laura called the clinic receptionist on a Friday afternoon to cancel an upcoming appointment for the following Monday and did not reschedule. It gave me a bad feeling that she was not following our treatment plan. I contemplated putting on my coat and heading home at the end of that long Friday but decided to call her. She didn't answer her phone.
I looked up her apartment address and drove there. As I approached her door, I could hear someone moving around in the apartment, but she didn't respond to my knocks or my voice. I decided to stay right there, talking to her through the door for about 15 minutes, letting her know I wasn't leaving until she opened up the door. I finally told her she could decide to open the door or I would call 911 and ask the police to come to make sure she was okay. Laura then opened the door.
She had been drinking heavily, with liquor bottles strewn around on the floor. Tears streamed down her face as she admitted she planned to overdose on aspirin and vodka. She said “It doesn’t matter what happens to me, as long as it makes him feel bad for how he treated me.” The vodka was already consumed and the unopened aspirin bottle was in her hand. I was the last person she expected to see at her door.
I called the mental health unit at the hospital and they had an open bed. Laura reluctantly agreed to come with me and be admitted voluntarily for stabilization. I went the following day to visit her and she greeted me with a hug and thanked me for not giving up on her when she had given up on others, had given up on herself, had given herself over to anger. In sobriety, her eyes were brighter and she was more hopeful. She never expected anyone to care enough to come looking for her, and to stand firm when she was intent on harming herself. She was astounded and grateful, and frankly, so was I.
Four years later, a small card arrived this week in my clinic mailbox on a most challenging work day, from an unfamiliar address two thousand miles away. The name looked vaguely familiar to me but when I opened and read the contents, this time it was my turn to let tears flow:
I am not sure if you will remember me considering you see a number of patients daily; however, I am a patient whose life you changed in the most positive way. I never truly THANKED YOU for listening to me and hearing my silent words of grief and hearing my cries for help when all I could feel was anger and hopelessness. If it had not been for you, had you not knocked on my door, I would not be writing this letter to you today. I don’t know exactly what to say to the person who saved me from hurting myself fatally. You were a stranger in my life, but a dear friend in my time of need. THANK YOU, for everything that you did for me. You have a permanent place in my heart, you have given my spirit hope, you have reminded me that a life is worth living. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Sincerely, Laura”
I’m grateful 4 years ago I had the sense to go knock on her door, the stubbornness to stay put until she responded, and most of all, I’m appreciative for her gracious gesture in letting me know it made a difference. Instead of being consumed by her anger to the point of harming herself, she was now reaching out in gratitude.
On a most difficult day this week, Laura made a difference for ME. She knocked on my door and I opened it, awash in my own tears of relief at the healing that had taken place.
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