"AN OPEN LETTER FROM A CLIENT AND THEIR EXPEREINCE OF THE THERAPUTIC PROCESS"
Shared with Full permisson.
Before you I had seen 4 different therapists throughout different stages of my life, then I found you.
I hated going to therapy, making every excuse not to go, if I did get there I hid myself. Telling the others what they wanted to hear, I figured I would get out of there sooner if we ticked all the boxes, that's what I felt I was to them, a tick box.
They would ask me questions, I wouldn't engage. Responding with "I don't know . I did not know. I didn't want to disclose. Plastering a fake smile on my face. "I've had a good week actually". I did not have a good experience, so I stopped therapy for good. I felt alone. Questioned why this wasn't working for me. Was it me? Was it them? Before you, I wasn't ready for therapy. You told me this. Graciously. It would have been easy for you to bask in the glory that your colleagues weren't as good as you. You worked gently with me to begin, building our trust week by week, strengthening our relationship until I was ready. I started to actually look forward to our sessions. You gave me the gift of patience choosing your moments carefully, waiting until I was ready, no boxes ticked. We joke of your sorcery, one minute we would be talking about a TV series the next an unresolved trauma from my past, that I had buried deep. You just have that way. Before you I wasn't ready. With you I was. Ready to be vulnerable, ready to be real. The time you give me each week has changed my life for the better. Before you, I was closed off, I was fake. With you I allowed my feelings to surface, to sit with all the pain and really get to know myself. Before you, I was so angry at everyone, using my trauma as an excuse for my behaviour. You didn't allow that, you validated my feelings, yet called me out on my bulls*t. No one had dared called me out before. I remember projecting that anger to you, utterly seething with you. Who did you think you were? The audacity of you to hold me accountable for my actions. I was never going back. Another one bites the dust. I then remembered you had warned me this might happen at the time I shrugged it off not fully understanding. Then something happen. A strange feeling enveloped me. I needed that. I needed accountability. The following week I reluctantly went back, I feIt somewhat lighter, yet slightly awkward and embarrassed at my rage towards you. I couldn't look you in the eye. You were firm yet gentle with me. Making mention of the previous week, explaining the process, allowing time to explore my feelings. With you, I was comfortable enough to communicate how I felt, making sense of my thoughts and feelings. Before you I had spent so much energy on being angry and avoiding my truth. Living the blame game, a victim of my circumstances. You changed that. I'm now a survivor of them. You told me I could let my tragedy define me or determine me. You told me I had the power, the choice. Questioning if I wanted to stay bitter or get better. I felt that. To say you are my saving grace doesn't cut it. You say that it's all on me because I'm doing the all work, but that's not true. I want you to know the reason I want to do the work is because of you, your kindness, your compassion. Your acceptance. Your passion, grace and empathetic nature exudes through every word you say, every smile, look and face you pull. My other therapists were stone faced, sounding boards, box tickers. They showed me no emotion. You show it all. You wear your heart on your sleeve. Literally, one of the first things I noticed about you was the small heart tattoo on your wrist, ironic. A lotus flower on the other, when I questioned what those meant you didn't hide, you didn't hesitate to answer, explaining the lotus as symbol of purity, enlightenment, self-regeneration and rebirth. It's characteristics are a perfect analogy for the human condition, we come through the dirtiest of waters growing into beauty, I too have been through the mud", you smiled. You showed me you are human, real, showing me humanity. One person to another. I relaxed. I knew I was ready to bloom. Before you, I was different. You've shown me how to put myself first how to fully love myself, grow through murky waters, scars and all. Before you, I felt alone. Now I know when I need someone you'll be there, present in my week, whatever I need that hour you'll give to me. You have cried with me. You have laughed with me, but most of all, you have heard me. For so much of my life, I just needed someone to hear me, to be with me. Thank you for giving so much of yourself to others, I know I am not the only one who feels this way. I see it. I see you greet others with a hug or put gentle hand on their shoulder as you part ways - silently saying "I am here with you". I see the few moments you take to compose yourself after holding the heartbreak of another client before you begin with me. Now fully present with me. I see the love that you hold for us all. The light that you give. Thank you. For being incredible at your job. For your job being more than a job. For being authentic. Thank you for being you.