It was late in the afternoon and I had just gone through one of the hardest things people go through – a breakup.
But it gets worse. It happened outside my office.
I felt like the world was going to end. Our cherished moments together flashed before my eyes as my heart sunk into the depths of my stomach. I was in shock, but there was a sense of foreboding that I was once again coming face to face with the torment of loss. My eyes swelled up as the fear of being alone swept over my entire being. And I could do nothing but stand there in silence, watching her walk away from me until she slowly disappeared into the horizon.
And then I walked into my office. I was expecting clients. Four of them, back to back. And I was their therapist.
Staying with them, engaging with their hopes and fears, listening to their stories, battling back my tears, struggling to keep my mind from drifting into my own inner storm – for four hours straight, right after a breakup – was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.
“How do you do it?” I asked my own therapist later that week.
“How do you do what?” she asked.
“How do you put all the shit you’re going through – the pain, that feeling of impending doom, the foreseeable collapse – how do you put all of that aside and keep yourself together so you can focus on your clients’ issues, on their feelings, on their suffering instead of your own?”
Her answer was simple, and yet so powerful.
“Because you remember that someone did it for you.”
We are taught to be resilient because an-other was resilient for us.
From our caregivers to our friends, teachers, mentors, partners, support networks and therapists, there are those along the way who taught us how to keep going, how to survive, and how to turn the page. Because we watched them do it. We experienced it. And we took it in.
Of course, my therapist was also talking about herself. And through that insight, our therapeutic relationship became stronger. Because I knew I could trust that she could keep going for me, and that she’s probably had to do so already, even when she was going through her own inner storm.
So when you find yourself climbing out of the darkness, remember that you have the capacity to pull through. You can do it. Because someone did it for you.