An open letter to my therapist
BLYTHE LANDRY MARCH 15, 2018
This week’s blog is dedicated to one of my greatest mentors and teachers in this journey of life. It is also dedicated to anyone who has ever had any therapist or mentor that has come in at the right time and completely transformed their lives. And, finally; it is dedicated to anyone who needs to know that even their therapist, who seems to have it all together; is just another person walking through life who sometimes has things they need help with too.
I’m a therapist. Obviously, then, I believe in therapy. And, because I believe that all good therapists should be willing to sit before another human being in all of their raw and terrifying vulnerability; I, too, have my own therapist.
I don’t have just any therapist. I have an epic, best of her kind, out-of-the-box and life-giving therapist. The kind that just sits with you and let’s you find all the contours of yourself while beckoning every bit of the light and goodness and truth that she can bestow upon you. The kind that you know thinks you are the cat’s meow. Even when you are being a jerk.
I’ve only had two therapists in my life. One for 7 years who was equally amazing in a different way. And then you. It was you that I met in 2007 for the first time. I am calling you “you” here, because one of the first things I recognized in you was your humility. The fact that you were here on this planet, maybe for this very purpose, and that even you didn’t realize the power of your presence and your word. I honor that today, because one of your greatest qualities is your humble nature. I recognize, see and respect that you would never want to boast or publicly display all of your many gifts for others to see. You are too good — too special — for that. You just ARE.
When we first met, I wasn’t in a good place. I was still afraid a lot of the time, and uncertain about who I truly was. I remember when you would just ask me a simple question or make an observation early on and even that would make me question your motives. I would come at you like a bullet – thinking you were sending me a secret message or hidden agenda about me maybe being evil or bad and finding out something about me I hadn’t already known.
Of course you weren’t. You were just asking me a question. But you got it. You could see my fear. You could see my vulnerability. You could see that I trusted almost no one, and you were not about to lose the initial smatterings of trust that were happening between us. You would just lower your voice and say something like, “Oh, Blythe, that must be so scary. I’m so sorry I frightened you. I understand.” Although, let’s face it, what you said was much better than that. Because it wasn’t about the words, it was about the real “message” you were sending.
The only “hidden” message you ever sent me was one of love. It is all you know how to send, really.
I remember the time when I told you I believed in past lives and felt maybe I had lost a son in another life. You didn’t even flinch. Maybe you thought this was crazy, but you didn’t show it. You just allowed my feelings to be there and to help me heal from what I felt was lodged deep in my soul that I hadn’t been able to explain before.
It helped. I don’t feel that angst or loss or hole inside anymore.
I also remember how I was so afraid of myself for so long, that I would just spend my hour bitching about how nobody in my life was doing what I wanted them to do. You clearly saw that this was avoidance and deflection and maybe even a waste of the hour; but you didn’t show that either. You just let me be where I was. You could see there was more fear inside of me to work out. And, of course, over time; I was able to talk about myself.
Your patience during this time (and all times really) is unmatched. Patience is one of your greatest superpowers.
You also indulged me in all of my attempts to turn things around and help you instead. You even took a lot of my suggestions and made a deal to go to the gym more if I would try really hard things emotionally.
That was so damn cool.
Even though it isn’t traditional, you could see that part of who I am is that. That it would make me feel safer and that it would allow me to get closer to myself. You weren’t a wall. You were and are real. You saw and see me. You listened. You still do.
We got so far together, that I felt really ready to launch out on my own a few years ago. Life has progressively gotten better and better, as has my ability to know who I truly am and all that I am, and love that more every day. You are a big part of that. I didn’t thank you enough then for all you had done, but I’m really glad I get to now.
Of course, you checked on me intermittently, or if I ever reached out; you immediately responded. You didn’t pretend to care. You just do.
Last October, I realized I was overwrought with some serious personal grief and pain that needed to be addressed. I knew you were the person to call. And, as to be expected from all of your greatness; you made yourself immediately available to connect again.
We have been talking regularly ever since, and it is, of course like no time has passed. Our connection is real – and you show me that through words and actions. Thank you for that.
This February, you had to cancel one of our sessions because you were having an unexpected medical emergency. I was concerned, but assumed that like always, you would bounce back and be back in the game before too long. I was also worried, because, well, you know, that is what I do.
A few weeks later is when I got the call. As a human being and therapist myself, I cannot even imagine how hard it was for you to call all of your clients and tell them the news. That you were sick. Very, very sick. We cried about it together. I told you I was beyond sorry. You told me you were too.
You asked me if I would be willing to be in this and work with you until you just couldn’t do it anymore. There was no pause. I would be honored. And have been. You told me how much you love me and that all you wanted for me was my precious heart to never be hurt again. That you saw my goodness and all that I was worth. And that you knew great things were coming.
When you said it, I knew it was true.
I got to see you in February, and of course, give you all my “resources” about how you could get help for your very grave disease. I just wanted to offer you some hope. Thank you for, again, indulging me. Even in your time of greatest pain, you have the gift of letting others in and letting others be who they are.
I think about life. I think about the great cosmic screw up of just now reconnecting with you again while you simultaneously fell into the time and space you are now. It seems unfair. And then I shift my thinking. I think about the good fortune that has been bestowed upon me. What a gift to know you. To have that universal nudge to reach out to you just at the right time. To get to walk through this time and be part of it, even to a tiny degree.
I also know that I am not God, and that things could turn around at any moment and a miracle could happen.
I can’t know. And I know, unfortunately, (you who always have all the answers), that this time; neither can you.
I’m so sorry you have to go through this. I think about your spouse of decades and can’t even begin to imagine how she must feel. I think about how young you are and your family, your dearest friends; and I pray that you are surrounded with all of the love and all of the sunlight that you have offered effortlessly to all who encounter you. I think about you. How are you? Do you feel afraid? Do you really KNOW the miracle of who you are? I’m guessing many have told you. At least I hope so.
You have taught me so much. How to sit still. How to pause. How to lower my voice when someone is afraid, because raising it will make them even more frightened. How to let others come to themselves without all my words and wisdom, but with my heart. You have taught me how to trust that everything is happening for a reason and that good things do eventually come. That I have very little control over very few things. That if someone hurts me, I can’t rescue them anymore. That the empathy I might have that their hurting me might be hurting them, isn’t something I should indulge in. If people love me (and, more importantly, if I love them), I have to give them the opportunity and dignity to come back around to me. In their own time.
You have taught me that having empathy and compassion for a behavior doesn’t make that behavior acceptable. And that when people do hurtful things, it is absolutely okay to not allow it. And it is also equally okay to love them anyway. You have taught me about the strength of my own power, and that just because I can manifest a situation or someone into giving me what I want, that it doesn’t mean I should (because eventually that always leads to me getting hurt, and I don’t need anymore hurt). You have also taught me to teach that to others. Which has really helped a lot.
I used to always joke that you were too great to be a real person. That you were always the “Late, great (blank) to me.” That you were iconic even in your own time. It isn’t funny when I say it now. Stupid, even, at this point. But I truly meant it. I meant every word of it. Because, in some ways, you really are just too cool to be a person. You transcend the average person, and I suspect, always have.
I will never be what you are as a therapist. And you have also taught me not to try. That what I offer is uniquely me, and uniquely important in its own right.
I am so grateful to know you. I am so grateful I have gotten the opportunity to sit in the wake of your light. And I am eternally grateful that someone as amazing as you dropped out of the sky and, just at the perfect time, came into my life.
You are uniquely, magnificently and undeniably you. And oh what a great YOU you are to me.