It started off like any other session we’d had.
We checked in. What was still tender and sore from our last meeting? What felt solid and strong?
He shared how he felt at home in his skin for the first time ever. How he finally saw himself as an independent, separate being from his overbearing mother. How his marriage was happier and more ease-filled than it had been in years as a result of him healing his own childhood wounds.
But he did not look happy recounting this. The sparkle I had seen in his eyes as he had come alive in his life was noticeably dimmer.
As I so often do, I waited. Silent, breathing and holding space for the more I knew was coming.
He did not look at me for the longest time. When he did, it was with tears in his eyes.
“I think I’m done”, he said tentatively. Again, I waited.
“I don’t think I need to come see you anymore. I feel so much happier and at peace. I know how to take care of myself with my family. It’s ok for me to tell them no now. And I finally know what it means to love me without feeling guilt or shame”
I let out a celebratory WHOOP inside. This is one of the moments I treasure with clients.
Don’t get me wrong. I adore the people I work with. I become attached to them, just as they get attached to me. It’s what we do as humans when we really connect on a deep level with someone.
I delight in their triumphs with them, no matter how small. I feel so honored to watch them grow into the wonderful souls they were put here to be.
By the same token, I am very clear that our time together is limited. We are in each other’s lives to the extent that they need me to help them grow.
At some point, they don’t need me. They can do it for themselves. And this is as it should be.
So while there is a piece of me that is always a little sad when clients say goodbye. the bigger part of me rejoices for them on so many levels.
I asked him to tell me what his tears were about. It’s so powerful and nurturing when we can give voice to our internal experience and have that witnessed.
He told me that my office was the first place he’d ever felt safe to truly be himself. To say whatever he needed to say. He could express anger to me, and he could show me this well of grief and sadness he’d been carrying around. His heartbreak. His deep hurt. HIs intense pain. He could lay all of it out on the table and he knew that I would not criticize, ridicule, or judge him for it like his family had. In fact, I would affirm and validate him.
It was a bittersweet decision, he said. He was scared to leave the safe cocoon that we had built. He was sad that such a transformational period in his life was now shifting and taking a different form. And he knew it was time to fly on his own. He was ready.
We cried together for a few minutes. My tears were a mix of sadness to see him go and pure, raw pride in him and the often times gut-wrenching work he had done in my presence. I told him so.
The fact that you came in and spoke this truth to me, I said to him, is a testament to your healing. You have spent your whole life pleasing people. Doing what they wanted you to because you were afraid of angering or disappointing them, I reminded him. Saying what they wanted to hear even if you lost yourself. You did it with me too when we first started working together.
But that’s not who you are today. You trust yourself. You know what’s right for you. And you are not going to sacrifice who you are for anyone. And that is cause for celebration, I told him.
His smile returned. HIs eyes lit up. He got it. And so did I.
Really good therapy frees you. It liberates you . It gives you permission to uncover who you really are, even if that is not pleasing to others. It encourages you to claim your independence and autonomy. It’s flexible and fluid and does not demand a particular outcome. It does not insist that you turn right when you know your path is left.
It’s forgiving, allowing misstep after misstep. It’s spacious. It invites you to be your own sovereign being, To make your own decisions from a place of inner wisdom. To stand squarely in your own truth and power. To follow the course that is deeply aligned with your soul.
Today, I am here to remind you that, like my client, you know when it’s time for you to fly in your own life. You know when your wings are ready. . Trust yourself. You can tell the difference between the beautiful lie and the ugly truth if only you listen. Follow the nudgings of intuition. The answer to whatever confusing predicament you are grappling with awaits you in the wisdom of your internal sanctuary.
And know that even if we have never met, I am standing on the ground, heart full, watching you soar high above the clouds. Cheering. Celebrating. And rejoicing in your return to the sky.