So today I get to the office a little early to go through the mail from my absence. First I find a long overdue payment to me for services I rendered several years ago. I am thankful, but I do the math and it is about half of what I should get paid. I will have to follow up on this before I deposit the check. Sigh.
Then, I get a huge gift from the universe.
I find a little envelope with a name of a client from years past. I open to find a thank you card with a hand-written note from L. I have changed identifying information.
When I first started seeing L. she was a teenager, struggling with family issues of divorce and drug addiction, and all the developmental challenges faced by a bright young woman seeking to find who she is and what she wants. She was earnest and sweet and open to working through her pain. I remember I liked her very much, and was impressed that she knew, more than anything, she wanted to fly. It was such a specific desire, and a beautifully apt metaphor for that to which her spirit aspired. It has been years since we last spoke.
She writes to tell me that now she is in her late twenties, working as a pilot, finishing up a degree in aeronautical science, and planning a wedding to the man of her dreams. She has taken the time to share where she is in her life with me, and to thank me. She feels our meetings helped change her life, allowing her to move forward without baggage and achieve the success and happiness she is now experiencing.
I am so moved by this message that I re-read the note a few times and tears come to my eyes. I knew I needed to write about this.
I seldom know what happens in the lives of the people I work with after our time together is done. Of course I always wish the best for them, but it is an immense gift that L. gives me today. I am so very pleased that she feels our connection and work together was pivotal in her growth.
Sometimes the work of a psychotherapist is hard, sometimes really hard, and some days more gratifying than others. Bearing witness to pain in a genuine way can be depleting. Not everyone has epiphanies or breakthroughs, and being the human being that I am, I can't or don't help every one this deeply. I don't do it for the thanks, and it is how I make a living, but in moments like this I remember the true reason I am called to this work. I feel honored and humbled.
For me there is no work I could do that is more deeply satisfying, and sometimes even sacred. I can think of nothing that suits me better than offering my presence and what skills I do have to another person in a way that eases suffering, promotes growth, helps clear the way for living a life in tune with one's authentic self and in alignment with the well-being of others.
Well, writing is a close second. I am grateful.
Thanks for listening.
And most of all, thank you L., for sharing yourself with me.