It’s so hard. So hard. To be close to these amazing people and yet to constantly ride the line between what is appropriate to share and to give-and what is not. Housing issues-come live with me. Job issues-my friend is hiring. Political issues-me too. Spiritual perspectives-here’s mine. I love them all and I love to meet my people as a person, a real person. I’m struggling-can I say that? I want to cry-can I do that? I’m scared-will that scare them?
I had no idea when I went into the field of counseling one the most difficult parts would be to hold back who I am, unable to exchange the deep layers of my own experiences for the depth offered to me. And I am certainly one of the most authentic and open therapists out there. How do the others do it?
One afternoon I was in session having just been proposed to and knowing that, in days I would be married to my best friend-someone my clients knew nothing about. Is this okay? It’s so spontaneous. Wait, is it ‘impulsive’ or worse ‘manic?’ My soul was bouncing inside of me like a happy airy ping pong ball while my client shared the heaviness of their pain. I met her there. But I felt like a fraud.
Countless times I give and listen and hold the heart of the client across from me while, my own heart aches with grief. I too struggle with overwhelm. Sometimes I am afraid. Sometimes I am tired.
Often, I’m working with someone I enjoy tremendously. It’s not uncommon for me to become distracted wishing we could go on a road trip together or meet for coffee instead of therapy. They would be so fun to hike with. I could trust her more than anyone else I know to watch my dogs. My daughter would just love her. She and my best friend should talk. They shouldn’t be alone when I could so easily have them over for the holiday.
I suppose loving my clients is a good problem; certainly better than the opposite. These are the thoughts the client never sees, never knows-probably never imagines. The divided therapist teaching the client to be integrated. Ironic? No, it’s not ironic, it’s mandated, forced, intentional, and darn it, I suppose it is necessary. Not at all easy.