Is there something wrong with me?

I love my work and this is why. A year and a half ago a new client walked into my office.  He was beaten down by life and couldn’t find many valuable reasons to keep going.  He had a wife, five children and one on the way.  He loved his family, but had lost meaning in his own life. He was an entrepreneur in a creative field, but wasn’t getting anywhere. His depression was evident, the drag of his feet, the lowering of his head.

He was court ordered to therapy for anger issues. His rage was released when his x-wife tried to take their son out of his car without his permission. His anger wasn’t palpable in our sessions, instead he seemed locked down and disconnected from all emotion.

In those first months, he mostly told stories and laid out maps of what he knew. If I offered any direction a wall would go up, and he would either shut down, or dismiss what I would say.  It was apparent I needed to follow his lead. It took many sessions before we found our rhythm.

About 6 months after our first session, I left my place of employment and opened my own practice.  I was very surprised to hear that he wanted to follow me, considering he would have a distance to drive and I wasn’t quite clear as to how I was helping him.

During our first session in my new space, he revealed more than any session prior. It was evident the months of ground work we did were paying off.  He was more able to move into his pain and even emoted some when he spoke of his brother who had passed a few years back. I began to see the man I always knew was there.  As he began to open, his struggle with who he was in the world became very clear to me.  He was now able to articulate his thoughts more concisely and grappled with the greater plan. I watched in wonder as this guarded man began to take off his shell.

As he dove deeper into his psyche, he took suggestions more readily and the gridlock of emotion gave way to a deeper knowing of who he could be. I began challenging his long held belief that if one good thing happens, 10 bad things will follow. It was the core reason that stopped him from trying. I asked him to elicit action, take the risk.  And week by week, he did.

I believed all along this man held greatness.  There was this vast potential inside him that was aching to be released; he just had to believe it himself.  This is never an overnight process, but once you step upon the conveyor belt, it’s only a matter of time before you believe it yourself.

He came to me feeling that there was something fundamentally wrong with him.  For months, I shared my perspective that there was nothing wrong with him; he just had to be willing to be himself and show himself to others. And when he started to do that, when he pulled the turtle shell off, the reflections he received were outstanding.  It’s frightening to be really seen by others, but once you are a whole new world opens before your feet.

And so, this past week, he stepped into my office completely happy, completely vulnerable, and completely alive; he couldn’t wait to share with me all that had transpired.  He was ready and it all showed up for him. I never saw him, lighter, more jovial or more honest with his feelings.

He would often share songs with me to relay how he was feeling.  He pulled out a song that he had shared months before and said: “Now I know the full meaning of this song”. He read the words to me and we both teared up because we both knew he had found the horizon.

That’s why I love my work.  I am honored to witness the journey of others.  I am amazed over and over, and it gives life extra-ordinary meaning.