After a few months of giving it a shot, I have decided that I have to stop seeing the local physical therapist I have been working with. You might remember the post I made, More Than Just a Difference of Opinion regarding the radical differences in our beliefs. The post generated 17 comments at the time.
At that time most of the people I spoke to about the situation advised me to find a different care provider. I did not do so, and I do not regret that decision. The gods above and below know that my personal beliefs and way of life would not mesh well with the beliefs of the majority of the populace (especially here in New Hampshire). However, I feel quite strongly that it is my obligation, especially as a shaman and community leader to work with people of different faiths and belief systems. In one of the earliest posts on BS I wrote about the need to put matters of faith aside in the interest of having a functional multicultural society. Certainly I would hope that a prospective client not choose someone else’s company rather than my own due to my paganism.
However, as was pointed out by many at the time, physical therapy is a much more intimate form of interaction than sitting on a public transportation committee. I feel it is necessary to reiterate that fact that this physical therapist has never failed to be professional, courteous, and even kind to me over the course of my treatment. The only exception that comes to mind is being subjected to several weeks of Christmas carols, but I can surely deal (although the Muppets album was a bit much, nothing like Kermit singing about the birth of “our” lord and savior).
I have finally come to the conclusion that I am unable to be comfortable with, or fully trust her in the way I have to for the care to be effective. Also, I have issues with giving her my, or my insurance company’s, money.
I buy Shell gasoline because they have a good employee care rating with HRC. I take pride in the fact that the company that makes my car advertises exhaustively to the GLBT community. Yet for something as intensely personal as physical therapy, I see a woman who honestly sees nothing wrong with a public school teacher telling a Muslim student during class that she is going to hell unless she abandons her evil ways and embraces Jesus Christ. A woman who feels that it should be illegal for me to even have the health insurance that pays for my treatments because my coverage is through Summer’s company’s domestic partner insurance plan.
Unfortunately, I have yet to figure out how to best handle the situation. First of all, I can’t just stop making appointments. I need physical therapy and she has my prescription in her files, which I will need to make arrangements with another provider. More importantly, I think it is appropriate for me to make the reasons for my departure known. I am a shaman. That means that I have an obligation to not shirk away from uncomfortable truths, and from sharing said truths when appropriate.
I have decided that I will write her a polite letter explaining my reasons for leaving. It is vital that I not sound bitchy, elitist or like I expect everyone to cater to my personal view of the world. I see nothing wrong with her holding her beliefs as dear as I hold my own. I just cannot be comfortable working with her because of the intensity of both of our beliefs, not solely hers. Belief cannot be “wrong” or “right.” That is the nature of “belief” and what distinguishes it from fact.
No one believes things that are not true in their experience of reality. Accepting this makes interacting with those who disagree with you much easier. But, as I have discovered, that only works up until a certain point. I hold no ill feelings toward this woman. That is a surprise to me, but I find that it to be the case. That doesn’t change my inability to be comfortable having this form of relationship with her. A fact that I find leaves me a bit disappointed in myself. Unfortunately, my health and financial situations do not permit the leisure of trying to work this out at this time.
I would be interested in how readers of B.S. think I should approach the writing of this letter. Especially what points you folks feel I should make a specific note of. If you have ideas, feel free to either post in the comments or drop me an email.