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November 26th, 2008

Sex Work And Compassion: Death In A Client’s Family

Elephant Hug
A regular of mine likes to call and ramble on about his life. (I’ll name him Rambling Client for this story.) I haven’t written about him because he’s not very interesting. Despite being boring he’s a good client.

RC’s father had been sick for months. His health had been declining rapidly and he had recently been released from the hospital into hospice care. When RC called I always asked about his father. I did this for two reasons. One was because it’s the polite and compassionate thing to do.

The second reason was completely selfish. When I first started working the phones an experienced PSO gave me some good advice. She told me that whenever a client has a sick or hurt loved one always make a note about it. The next time they call make sure you ask about the person or animal. They will be touched and you will get a regular client. That may sound cold but she was right.

When I asked RC how his father was doing in hospice he choked up. Over and over he thanked me for asking, for caring. No one else had asked how his dad was-not his friends, not his coworkers, not his neighbors. I kept thinking how sad it was that people like him have to pay people like me to ask about a sick loved one.

RC is a lonely man. I believe he has depression though I doubt he’d agree. Our calls are often filled with reminisces of his glory days. That changed when his father’s health turned for the worse. He was worried about his dad. His siblings were upset too; they were stressed and bickering.

One day RC called sounding more depressed than I’ve ever heard him. “I buried my father today” was his response when I asked how his day was. He had gotten home from the funeral and called me.

He told me about his father’s death. He told me details about preparing for the funeral. He talked me about the service, how he held his sister up while she cried at the coffin, how he saw family members there he hasn’t seen in years, how the preacher talked about Heaven and Hell and how he wasn’t sure he even believed in all that anymore. Hours ticked by.

He cried while I listened. I kept thinking I shouldn’t be having this conversation with him. RC should have someone there, someone to throw their arms around him and hold him while he cried. But there’s no one. RC is single and has been for some time. His friends sound more like acquaintances than close friends. His siblings have families of their own and he has no children.

So he called me. Calls like this convince me that sex work is therapeutic. I was the comforting yet detached therapist quietly reassuring my client while he sobbed on the couch. He cried, he gulped air down between sobs, he sniffled over and over again. His father’s death has deepened his loneliness and depression.

I showed compassion by letting him talk. I reassured him that his father loved him-I don’t know that’s true but odds are it is. RC told me all about his dad and family life while I played the part of caring friend.

What strikes me most about this call is how RC needed compassion and was paying me to give it to him. Again and again I kept thinking there should have been someone there for him. But there was no one to hold him while he grieved.

It wasn’t quite sunrise when RC’s call ended but it was close. I felt physically and emotionally exhausted when it was over. Years of being a PSO have taught me to keep my emotional walls up on calls. There are clients who get off by making you sad. There are some that are the stereotypical “never do wells” who will always call you sad and depressed. To protect yourself you need to have distance from your clients.

But this doesn’t always work. There is always a client that pulls my heartstrings. We sex workers often see the harsh reality of life and love. Some of our clients live in such depression. Others have their hearts broken so wretchedly it’s a surprise they haven’t cut their wrists. Some clients, like RC, turn to us in times of grief because we’re the only ones who will listen. It is our role to play the caring, compassionate friend even though we’re not.

Sex Work And Compassion Series
Sex Work And Compassion: Panty Tree
Sex Work and Compassion: Self Hating Client
Sex Work And Compassion: I Show No Compassion

Posted by Vixen in PSO Confessions

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 at 10:50 pm and is filed under PSO Confessions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Sex Work And Compassion: Death In A Client’s Family”

  1. SinfullyAnon says:

    The fact that “no one asked” about his Dad, really got me.
    I could understand this so well. That you were there, on the phone for him, just for those moments, must have been very comforting for him.

    We all need to be able to share these things with someone else. Loss..any kind of loss, should never be confronted alone.

    This is an excellent post, Vixen.

    Good work.

  2. Mollena says:

    Hello :-)

    Thank you for sharing this journey, Ms. Vixen.

    It is a remarkable gift to allow the powerful grasping clamor of someone foundered on the lonely planet of grief be echoed by another human.

    That you have the wherewithal to listen, and to accept, and to emerge from that blistering wall of pain with your own spirit still able to breathe is, truly, grace.



  3. Stewart says:

    You did a great thing. Ideally your client would have had someone close by to ease his pain, but the cold facts are he didn’t. Without you, he would have had nobody.

  4. Vixen says:

    Everybody-Thanks for the wonderful comments. They make me feel great!

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