As therapists we are necessarily aware of the pain of the human condition. Some of this awareness is a result of our profession and much of it results from the work we do on ourselves. I found it entertaining when along the line someone suggested therapists become such because they are basically pretty messed up. There is a school of thought which purports we have become therapists in hopes of finding our own truth and learning to work with that truth, finding some sense of direction and happiness. Now years later, I know the concept is not only entertaining, but also real. Many therapists I know, including me, are committed to digging deep to confront our pain and find our strength. We are also committed to travelling this same path with our clients.
The key is to find strength. There is no joy in simply exposing the pain. If we do not go beyond that exposure, we might as well not begin this journey. It is tempting to retreat when we touch the painful part; to tell ourselves we do not need to go there. All we really need is few tools; an affirmation chart, a method for reasonable distribution of household duties, a tropical weight loss catalyst, a scheduled time for communication, and the list of possible solutions goes on. Respectfully (or maybe not so respectfully) I tell you, this is nonsense. These magic bullets are superficial and temporary. It is necessary, albeit unpleasant, to dig into the pain. By digging deep we find our strength, discover and confront the source, and then embark upon the path of healing.
What I love about this calling are the moments when clients find the strength to confront pain and move along the path of truth and healing. Then comes the realization that the journey has become a walk offering less pain and more healing. Pain becomes less threatening and on the horizon….there is joy.
Please understand this is not often an easy journey. A few months ago I began seeing with a client who told me he was okay with the fact that I do not accept insurance because he did not think it would take very long. I get what he was saying and where he was coming from. He was ready to do the work. He knew at the outset from some research and another therapist that he might have some abandonment issues. We are several months into it and he is beginning to believe that his magic bullet does not exist. He is scratching the surface of his pain and coming to the realization his emotional cut-off and over functioning exist to protect him from his own feelings. Still, after all, it will become more difficult before the true healing begins. The gift this client has is a heart full of hope and the ability to draw on that hope.
It is my goal and honor to walk this path with my clients. It is a blessing to accompany them through their pain as they find their strength and discover their hope. I am inspired by the American mythologist and writer, Joseph Campbell. He is quoted, “Find a place inside where there is joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” Campbell is known for his favored phrase, “Follow your bliss”. I will steadfastly argue that we must struggle through our pain to find our true bliss, which lies beyond simple complacency.