A Letter From a Psychologist, to the Warriors Who Speak With Me
Where do I begin? I’ve received countless letters, messages and emails from you. Yet, I have never had the honor of writing one back. This is because it simply isn’t done.
I am supposed to listen but not share. I am the keeper of secrets, the person whom you become raw and vulnerable with every week. I am to hold this rawness, offer empathy and tools in exchange, but tell you very little about myself while doing so. There is to be a clear and definitive hierarchy. You are to leave wondering if you had an impact or if I ever think about you. When our relationship ends, you are to ponder whether I will remember you down the road.
OK now lean in close because here is the important part. This dance is full of smoke and mirrors, and I’m about to clear the smokescreen. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say you may have realized by now that I am human. The jig is up! Let’s get real. When we sit together, and you open up about your darkest thoughts, your fears and your struggles. I feel it, and I am immensely, eternally, grateful.
You thank me often. You thank me after sessions. You thank me when we end our work together. Sometimes, you even thank me years later when we meet in passing! What I always feel in my heart, the words that are always jumping to my lips when I hear this are, “No, thank you.”
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to sit with you while you are vulnerable. In a true testament to the human spirit, you show up when you feel weak. You decide that life is meant to be lived in color damn it. Then, remarkably, you continue to come back to talk with me, raw and thawing from whatever was keeping you numb and in the black and white.
Even though you quickly realize that therapy is like frostbite, that it hurts as it heals, as it thaws, you show up. Vulnerable. Raw. Thawing. Thank you for allowing me the very opportunity to sit across from you while you do this demanding work.
Thank you for showing me the true tenacity of the human spirit. Most people go to work to endure a soul-crushing eight-hour day staring at a computer screen. I get to go to work to witness the genuine strength that lies within each and every human being who walks this earth.
Every hour with each of you throughout the day shows me that we triumph and warrior on, throughout the most punishing and painful parts of this journey that we call life. Some hours this triumph is softer. Some hours it is a bellowing roar, but it is always there. Thank you for reminding me of this day in and day out.
Thank you for teaching me so much. I learn from you all every single day. I always say I feel like my brain is expanding all the time from the wisdom I gain from you. You are the world’s leading expert on yourself, after all. Each time we meet, you share your insights that you have garnered through your own journey with me. Whatever demons you may face (and they run the gamut from eating disorders, to trauma, to low self-esteem, to perfectionism), you entrust me with your thoughts and observations that you have picked up about this battle along the way. Thank you for letting me in on this invaluable wisdom. You often innately know so much more than you give yourself credit for.
Thank you for trusting me to hold the hope when things feel dark. At times, I have described my job as “the holder of hope.” So often you come to me when things are darkest. These are the times when it is most difficult for you to feel hopeful for yourself. I know. So I hold this hope for you and you let me! You let me do this while we walk forward together. Over time, you take your hope back, little by little. Then, all at once. Honestly, how cool right? To be the holder of your hope for a few steps in your journey? I cannot fathom a better job than this. I am eternally thankful for you and your hope.
So the smokescreen has been pulled. Voilà! You now know the secret of secrets, that I am immeasurably grateful, to the depths of my heart, for the opportunity to walk a small piece of your journey with you. I am so honored. This is a secret I should have never kept to myself.
So the next time you thank me, you can bet I’ll say it right back (and now you’ll understand why.) Thank you.
Colleen (Dr. Reichmann/ Dr. R)
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