An open letter to my clients current and departed
15th May 2021
Yes, I think of you long after our session or work has finished. I grieve for the sadness and conflict you endure and I celebrate with exuberant delight your happiness and successes. I adore when you meet someone you love who is finally worthy of your affection. I am your cheerleader, your confidante and sometimes, your straight talking challenger, taking no bullshit when I think you need that approach and it won't injure you.
If it feels like I am genuinely with you, it's because I am. If it feels like you are understood, and I hope it does, it's because I relate. Sometimes I throw back my head and laugh, sometimes I fight back tears. Sometimes I make you promise not to sabotage the new relationship with the guy who, after a series of nightmares, finally seems "too nice". You are getting married now. I have held a client's face in my hands when she asked if she would ever be loved, following heartbreak, (you just texted to say you exchanged on your first home with your new partner). I have seen people imprisoned for years by the hideous bully that is OCD, finally free. The traumatised move from living in trauma, to acknowledging it will always be in their peripheral view, but now living happily in their real lives. I have worked with both male and female rape, I stand with you as a fierce and defiant protector, demanding your liberty. Sometimes quietly, just working with you with a laser like focus on your future happiness or peace and sometimes explicitly, expressing the rage, and sadness when you cannot. I pray your chronic pain will end, or you will get the baby you long for (3 years on and lots of loss) you send me a picture of you all together in your new home and my heart is so full. I suggest reading The Twits or Gabor Mate, rather than something that will make you leave the hotel quarantine ready to do battle when reunited with your lover! I remember working in a bereavement centre, and leaving a session doing an air kick as I left and walked alone to my car to celebrate the beautiful incredible aliveness breathed into a client who had wanted to die after trauma too brutal to share. I was still in training, but this work is really about one human being just caring unjudgementally for another.
You move me daily, you make me hold myself to account in my own life and own relationships, as I hold you.
To have lost is to know what you are capable of surviving and for me, a resilience and defiant aliveness, after grief. I do this job because of loss. My Mum went from healthy to dead on Christmas Day, when I was 5 months pregnant with my son. To be alone in a hospital with your Mum for 7 hours, is brutal. To be taken into a room that day and told she was going to die, is a brutality that has no words. To return home to find her presents to you under the tree. Seriously, Mum could you just have picked a random Tuesday in February that one day I could have forgotten? Could you just have met your grandson and latterly granddaughter? I tried to "positive and grateful" my way from grief for a decade, but it was leaking out of me, it was on my skin. I was happy, I laughed, who wouldn’t, I had two kids who variously made and still make me laugh until I cried and also drive me bonkers. But after this I wasn't the girl who worked in media any more, It didn't make sense. I have lost a lot and lost nothing compared to many. I know now, like you, that sometimes the hardest lessons are learned from our toughest moments.
I have made plenty of mistakes, so when you are scared of failing I want to reassure you not to worry, because we learn so much from our mistakes too. One of my clients described herself as a "reformed perfectionist". She learned and understood her perfectionism was a trap feeding anxiety and a set up with only one guarantee, you will fail and in doing so, confirm your biggest fear, you are imperfect, or maybe "human" is a better term. But failing is part of learning and it's part of freedom.
Sometimes my supervisor of my couples and psychosexual work, asks warmly "Did you actually say that?" "Yep" I had the worst ever couples therapy, it was bloody excruciating. I made a deal with myself if I ever qualified, I would do a better job, no couple in pain leaves the room without a hug, however shit it's been, and in doing so the anger that may manifest, gives way to the fear underneath, melting into sadness and care, a reminder of kindness and love. Even if an end is the right answer, and sometimes it is, we should be kind.
I am a lottery winner. I do a job I love. I learn all the time, and having quietened a pretty honed, punitive voice in my head and replaced it with compassion and pragmatism, I can help you do the same. I no longer despise vulnerability in myself whilst welcoming it in others and I 100% know my worth now. So I am going to fight for you to know it too.
I have special, beautiful moments and enormous affection for you, we share something incredible. Therapy with the right person can be human alchemy. So I want to say ...Thank you so much for the privilege of this work, it's bloody awesome, our work inspires, excites, challenges and fulfils me, I am so incredibly grateful for every one of you beautiful people who have shared your stories with me and trusted me.