Being in a helping profession, my job is to “help” people. Yet through the years I have come to see how in so many ways, it is me who walks away feeling helped, or uplifted, or grateful. Sometimes I will be saying something to a client that I really needed to hear, or I’ll get clarity on something that I was struggling with, or my perspective or paradigm gets shifted through our discussions, or I’ll get confirmation that what I’m doing is what I need to be doing.
This happened this week with one of my favorite clients.
She was sharing with me how she is trying so hard to do everything that she should be doing, but she is just not happy.
It brought me back to a conversation I had with a counsellor I went to during my divorce (and believe it or not, she is now my neighbor living a few houses down from us – what a shocker when we moved in!! Hello lady who knows my deepest, darkest secrets! I’m your new neighbor)! Anyhow….
I was telling this counsellor how I was doing “great”. I was focusing on my boys, my career was good, my finances were in order, I was spending lots of time with girlfriends, was exercising, developing hobbies, going to church etc. etc.
But, after the boys were in bed, my work was done, the tv off, the phone calls ended, I would turn the lights off and cry myself to sleep. I would cry in the shower, I would cry in the pillow, I would cry behind closed doors.
But I’d get up everyday and put a smile on and go through my day. I felt like the biggest fraud and fake. I was not fine. I was dying inside and was so filled with sadness, anger and grief.
So, you know what this counsellor told me?
Keep doing exactly what I was doing.
Essentially, to act as I wanted to feel.
One day, she told me, it won’t feel fake. One day it will be real. It will be the real life I created for myself.
And you know what?
It did happen that way.
One day, I wasn’t faking it anymore. Things were good. I was ok.
As my client shared her sadness with me, it brought me back to that time. I know I can’t take away her pain, but my experience helps me I think be a better therapist, and certainly have more empathy. I left my client’s home with gratitude for the love and support I had received during my difficult time, and then was able share with her the wisdom that was passed on to me those years ago.
I was able to tell her “Have hope! Hang on”! Unfortunately, when you are on that unfamiliar path, in the darkest tunnel, the only way out is to keep walking through the darkness. One day however, you will see the light. It is there.
This about sums it up: