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By Cherie T. Buisson, DVM, CHPV
Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Veterinarian

You know how people say that they have a “work wife” or a “work husband”? Well, I have a “work Mom”. My accountant has absolutely no problem hitting me between the eyes with financial truthiness. She’s everything I could possibly want in an accountant: wise, analytical, invested in me and my business. But she’s also protective and very, very patient. I am rarely more vulnerable with another human being because the math of business is my nemesis.

Last year, I brought her my year-end and 4th quarter paperwork. She asked me how things were going, and we talked for a long time. I told her how I was struggling because things had been slow the last month. EVERYTHING seems to be due in December and January, exactly when I’m trying to make ends meet for the holidays. Just when I think I’ve gotten on top of things, I end up having a mess to sort out.

She gave me one of those accountants looks – like she maybe just transformed me into a pile of numbers and was about to organize me into columns.

“I’d like you to make a New Year’s Resolution,” she told me. “I’d like you to give Cherie a break and be nice to her. Because I like her, and you’re being mean to her”.

I just stared at her for a minute because this is precisely what I say to other veterinary professionals all the time! Only, I’m not usually on the verge of tears or on the receiving end of it. I think there’s no more toxic relationship than the one we have with our imperfect self. I have high expectations of the people around me, but no one gets held to a higher or more impossible standard than me, myself, and I.

You would think that an internal struggle wouldn’t be visible to those around us. Although many of us are almost catlike in our ability to hide self-loathing, we can show it in unexpected and unpleasant ways. Some veterinary professionals turn those feelings outward and bully their colleagues (or clients, or perfect strangers for that matter). I think more of us absorb it and concentrate our energy into being kind, using our words, and comforting those who have made mistakes. We try to make everyone else happy so no one looks too hard at us or asks us too many questions about how we’re doing.

As we approach the home stretch of 2018, I am asking all of you to take a second and turn some of your amazing compassion onto yourself. Be nice to the person who lives in your head. Be nice to the body that houses your magnificent brain and gentle soul. Being kind to those around you and being kind to yourself are not mutually exclusive. I promise you can do both.