I had already spent some time as a social work student in a rape crisis center before I learned the cliché, “We can only give what we have to give.” Perhaps you’ve heard it as “You can’t fill a glass from an empty well.” Or maybe, “You can only love someone else as much as you love yourself.”
However it’s spoken, the message is the same. “Healer, first heal thy self.” I was backwards, a nineteen year old survivor of violence, suffering through, trying to find meaning in it all. If I could give to others what I never had, but a compassion I was just finding, perhaps I could heal that insatiably wounded and empty place. In social work, we call it the “wounded healer.” Typically, it is not a compliment. Yet, far too often, it’s how we find our way into this field. We land here for a reason. The particulars may vary, but undoubtedly it’s to right a wrong, balance a scale, give back, or pay it forward.