Although I spent the first years of my career duly employed, I slowly moved toward private practice. I wasn’t trained to work independently and did not plan this career direction, but working alone, I could more easily manage my caseload, especially when I was unwell. Just before the market crash of 2008, as my energy was starting to wane, I moved my office to my basement at home. I must say that J. has been an excellent landlord, and the arrangement has worked out really well for us.
As a self-employed person, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid, well, except for my sick person’s allowance now. But money has never been my primary concern, so long as I have enough to keep the roof over my (our) head.
When I’m not busy dealing with cancer, I really miss my clients. But because I work independently, I can’t count on clients to show up when I happen to be well. It doesn’t work that way, especially now that word has gotten around that I have leukemia. Why would anyone refer a client to a therapist who may keel over, or, alternatively who may abandon ship at a moment’s notice? I certainly wouldn’t have referred any client to someone cancerous before I became one of those people. Turns out not everyone who gets cancer is facing imminent death.
I’ve been lucky to be working for long enough to have worked with a lot of clients. Since I reopened my office a few years back, I’ve seen mostly clients with whom I have a long history. I do find myself feeling sad when they decide to leave again. I know I must not encourage them to stay because I miss the good feeling that comes from helping.
Remember when a romantic relationship ends and you fear you’ll never fall in love again? Launching a client, since I’m seeing so few, feels kind of like that. How can I trust another client will walk through the door at some point? Saying good bye to a client is different, though: I can be happy that the client is feeling better than he was when he first came in, even while I’m sad that he’s leaving.
So far, I’ve been lucky. Just as my longing to hang out in my office has overwhelmed me, a client has magically appeared on my doorstep. This timing fits well with my recent definition of fate, don’t you think? And each time a client appears, I feel okay about not working more, at least for a while.
I can’t hang up a big shingle again because I don’t have the time or energy to be working full time, but I was thinking of hanging a little shingle. Which led me to wonder, do little shingles exist? I’m thinking they must because little houses have little roofs. (As an aside, I just learned that the plural of “roof” is “roofs”, not “rooves”. I had no idea!) I’ve read in the newspaper about the tiny house movement. I’ve seen little houses, in people’s backyards, high up in trees. Maybe a little shingle would draw in just enough clients to keep me on my toes. Here’s hoping.