For what it’s worth… 45 minutes to kill in the car as we head to the shore.
I reached out to two women yesterday for feedback. I woke up today feeling so good. I could fill a page with all the words and reasons to describe “so good” but don’t worry, I won’t.
I will share this, before going into private practice, I had a big, stressful, well paying job. I’d always had jobs that made me feel valued but often, secretly, also turned me inside out, doing too many things I could and did do well, but that utterly drained me. I hate to say it but I did it for the paycheck. I did the paycheck for my kids, my family. Maybe everyone can relate to a time of doing that.
When I decided to become a therapist
I was sitting in my own therapy session one afternoon, it was probably 2003. I had gotten to the good stuff. I was living in the payoff of a long process of self work, healing and growing. It was hard work. Looking back, I had reached that point in my own therapy where I was mostly shooting the breeze with the woman who had watched me sob, who had gotten up from her chair on one occasion to sit closer and put her arm around me as I vulnerably cried… [this is weird now but] one day I remember, in the middle of a session, telling her I felt I needed to pray. I was in a lot of fear that day and I was feeling ungrounded and I knew praying would ground me. That fear was valid. She made that okay… so I prayed right there on the floor of her office. It was that safe. Back then, I had a hard time letting myself show anger or fear. I was always “okay”. Getting me to the place where I could do emotional release work, push out that old anger or fear, from things I’d experienced, was not at all easy. She’d push me. Once she figured out I couldn’t hit [a common method of emotional release when needing to process old anger you never expressed or processed]. It involves using a wiffle ball bat while imaging up what happened to you, bringing up the words you felt but never said, and hitting pillows as you say or yell those words, imagining you’re saying them to the person who caused that pain. This processes it all out… the intellectual knowing, the feelings and that toxic energy you’ve been containing. That energy, if left inside, causes a lot of harm. She figured out if she crowded my space with cushions and pressed me to say the feelings, I would use energy to push back… that helped me get to the place I could release that anger and the fear too. This woman, took me through all of that. One of her pet names, I think, for all who she wants to know are precious, is “lady bug”. She’s not a pet name kinda person. I remember the day I gathered myself after a piece of grief work I’d done with her. She handed me my jacket, extended a hug and said, “you’re gonna be okay, lady bug”. I knew I was going to be okay and I knew I had been led to a person who saw me. Who really saw me and heard me. I knew I had been understood. That alone was powerfully healing. Even as a child I loved lady bugs. Lady bugs will forever be one of my favorites.
Fast forward, and now we’re at the “shooting the breeze” phase of my work. My sessions had trailed off to periodic checkin’s. We were discussing my stressful job one afternoon, when I said, “I think I’d be good at your job”. Without skipping a beat, I heard back, “I think you would too”. The rest is history. Best career decision I’ve ever made.
There are too many related blessings to count and share. The one I’m basking in today is that it’s the only job I know that leads to friendships with the most beautiful people in the world. When you ask your therapist friends for feedback, you get thoughtful, deep, intelligent, thorough, beautifully communicated insights. You also get affirmation and loving kindness. It’s that same thing all over again. You are seen, you are heard, you are understood.
I will spend the rest of my life trying to give back what Ive been given. I so want to tag each of you to make sure you see my gratitude but I won’t put myself on your wall like that without your permission and I trust you already know. For anyone else tracking this, if you’re a therapist too, thank you for the work you’ve done and the work you do, just by being.