We hear so often about how toxic our work environment can be. Yes, we all know about the clients who can tear us down, but a larger and harder part of our field is when our own bosses or peers do it.

I once came from a clinic that was toxic in this sense – feigned compassion for staff, feeling as if nothing was ever good enough, constantly throwing one another under the bus, and never a true sense of camaraderie, especially from the ones in charge. You left for the day feeling defeated. I thought that was just the way it was. Then, my at-the-time fiancé got a new job and we had to move cities. Once I joined a new clinic, I saw what true compassion and kindness meant, and I was astounded. It’s like when one must go through a bad relationship to truly understand a healthy one.

I’ve worked at this new clinic for over a year now. I instantly felt at home there. It’s a cozy small animal clinic with one doctor that recently expanded to two. It was immediately clear that the doctors and staff would do whatever was in their power for their patients. The passion I felt rivaled my own. I knew this was the place I was meant to be.

Throughout this time, I have formed wonderful relationships with these people. This past September, I was lucky enough to be married to the love of my life and got to share that joy with my new work family. It was one of the happiest moments of my life, shortly met by one of the saddest.

I was pregnant, thought to about nine-weeks along. My boss and peers obviously knew, as there were certain things I could no longer do as a certified veterinary technician. We all shared in the excitement and had put on a contest for guessing things like what the gender would be and when the baby would be due. The winner got to be the first one to hold the baby out of the group.

When I went in for my first prenatal appointment, that excitement quickly turned into anxiety. After some routine diagnostics, my husband and I were sent to have an urgent ultrasound. There we received the bad news. They couldn’t detect a heartbeat. It turns out I had what is referred to as a silent miscarriage. I had likely miscarried a few weeks prior. I was devastated.

Fast forward a couple weeks and through a lot of details, I ended up having an emergency D & C.

Through all this, I cannot even begin to explain the kindness, the support, and the compassion I felt from my clinic. If I was having an emotionally draining day, they acknowledged it and let me do what I needed to do, whether that was working through it, making awkward jokes, or going home so I could cry in peace.

When I was physically in too much pain, there was no flack for the days of work I had to miss. There were times I couldn’t stop talking and days when I could barely speak. They understood when I couldn’t talk about it but were there to listen when I finally could. I cannot imagine having to go through this terribly hard situation without their support. I will never be able to fully express the gratitude I have towards every single caring person I have had the fortune to work beside. I am so proud to work at this clinic, with these people, my boss, my coworkers, my friends – my work family.

Today, November 13th is world kindness day, the reason I wrote this article. If you could take anything away from these words I wrote, remember that your “bad relationship” isn’t something you need to settle for. Don’t give up on your passion. There is the right place for you out there. A place with true understanding, compassion and kindness. Which, really, is all the same thing.

CMR, CML, CLS, JKA, ASP, and SCR, all I can ever offer is a simple thank you. And maybe some coffee.