Just don’t talk about it.
Once in a while, a coworker from a different department will ask me to join her for lunch to catch up. On this particular day, we went to grab bubble tea. The closest shop is a 15 minute drive from our office.
Sitting next to her on the passenger seat, I commented on how spotless she kept the interior…
She: Yeah, actually I had a car accident last year, and that’s also around the same time when I left my previous job.
Me: Oh what? That must have been a terrifying experience! Was it serious? *shocked*
She: Well, my car was written off completely. This is my parents’ old car. I had a slight concussion but not injured, thank God. *tone strained*
Me: Were you afraid to drive for a while after that? *tentatively*
She: Yes! I only started driving again after I got this job. To be honest, I was a bit worried, but I went to a few months of therapy after the car accident. Well, I was also unhappy at work. It helped a lot. *shoulders visibly relaxed*
It struck me then.
Paying visits to the therapists or counsellors may be more of a common occurrence in Canada.
The nonchalant way she slipped that information into the conversation was contrary to my culture’s attitude towards therapy.
My sister was often stressed in high school. The prospect of entering a prestigious school turned her into a completely different person. Easily annoyed, she had anxiety spelled clearly across her face.
Reading a book across from my mom, I sensed that she had something to say…
She: Maybe you can tell your sister to stop touching her hair so much. She always gets annoyed when I tell her. *sighed*
Me: She wouldn’t listen to me, either. The habit may stay with her as long as she’s anxious.
She: I can see her scalp already! It’s so bad for her hair and I don’t want her to regret it later. *tone worried*
Me: Maybe she should see a counsellor? *tentatively*
She: What!? No! I mean, I don’t think it’s that serious. It’s just a bad habit, and has nothing to do with that sort of things. *ended it abruptly*
I may never forget the awkward look on my mom’s face.
It was as if I had suggested something that would put the whole family to shame.
Or perhaps, that was exactly what I did.