How I Lost Two Clients in a Weekend – Part 2
How I Lost Two Clients in a Weekend
With the second client, I told them that I had hit a wall and was dealing with new mental health diagnoses on top of the ones they already knew about. I had been working with this client for years, and we had become friends—or so I thought. I had even counseled them on their own PTSD, resulting from a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis.
I thought that if there were anyone who’d “get it,” they would have.
I calmly explained to them that I had hit a wall and was going through some things and needed time to sort them out. I told them I’d contact them once I felt “ok” again.
There wasn’t anything pressing. There were no deadlines that needed to be met.
There was nothing that couldn’t wait until I was better. And I was only asking for a few days.
Know what I got, instead? A barrage of phone calls not even 24 hours later, after I had already said I needed to be left alone. I didn’t answer my phone because, as far as I was concerned, boundaries were being violated, and I was in no mood to repeat my experience with the first client.
They called me several times back-to-back. They even called me from different numbers in what I could only guess was an attempt to annoy me into answering.
It was as if I had never mentioned my need for space or why I needed it.
Unlike how I handled the last client, however, I didn’t budge this time. I said what I said, and I meant it. And if these people somehow couldn’t show my boundaries the same respect that I had shown theirs, then as far as I was concerned, there was nothing left to discuss.
And I was fully prepared for however they responded to being told “No.”
The phone call assaults happened on a Friday. By early the following Monday, I had an email waiting for me that went something like this:
“We called you several times, and you didn’t answer. Given your lack of response, we’ve decided to cancel your contract with us, effective immediately.”
Though I wasn’t surprised that was how they chose to answer it – your boundaries are only an issue for people who benefited from your not having any – I was still hurt.
Where did they get off punishing me for looking after myself? What right did they have to be bothered or “offended” by my actions when they were the ones who kept refusing to hear “No”?
The nerve of those clowns to make MY mental health needs and concerns about THEM.
How dare they be upset at my refusal to put their ego needs ahead of my self-care? How disconnected from their humanity did they have to be to see nothing but their own “victimhood” in actions that did not victimize them?
I very nearly gaslit myself into finding fault with my nonexistent wrongdoing because, at that point, I was still new to establishing and maintaining my boundaries. And it took several weeks of therapy to accept that the problem didn’t rest with me: It was ALL on them.
It was all rhetoric. They didn’t mean it. Naturally, they didn’t expect they’d have to follow through on it.
It was manipulation, pure and simple. It was taking advantage of my vulnerability to exploit me for their gain, and once they no longer could, I finally saw those people for who they were.
As painful as that lesson was, I needed to learn it. I needed to understand that people don’t always mean what they say when they tell you they’ve got your back. Sure, it’s a nice thing to say and is the absolute right thing to say for someone more concerned about how they look than with who they are, but the fact remains that not everyone who says, “Tell me what I can do to help” wants to help you so much as they want you to feel good about how they’re using you to help themselves.
And as neurodivergents, we must constantly look out for this kind of insidious exploitation because even darkness is attracted to the light.
But the more we practice our boundaries and prioritize our needs without fear, guilt, or shame, the less likely we will lose two clients in a weekend.
Because we wouldn’t be doing business with people so vile and inconsiderate in the first place.
If I’m honest, I don’t consider losing either client a “loss” so much as I see them both as a “Good riddance.”
It’s always good when the trash takes itself out.
About the Author
Kameko Thomas is a writer and disabled neurodivergent (Autism, ADHD, PTSD, OCD, MDD) Black woman living and working at the intersections of race, gender, and invisible disability. She is the Principal Writer + CEO of Vonem Creative Media, a strategic communication and narrative storytelling firm built to create a more inclusive world for neurodivergents. Kameko has a BA in English from Wiley College and an MA in English & Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University, where she was selected to join Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society.