"I've never told anyone about our son's learning disability...not even family. I don't know how Jessica could possibly have known, but from that moment on, I listened really closely to everything she had to say."
"My beloved grandma came through to Jessica -- I knew it was her when Jessica commented on her Minnesota accent! -- with overwhelming validation: she knew all about my kids, mentioned her famous carrot cake, and even told me who she wants to inherit the pearls she left me. Jessica gave me a marvelous opportunity to express my love one more time...and feel Grammie's love, too."
"I lost my mother to cancer two years ago, and I came to Jessica just hoping to know Mom was okay. Turns out she's better than okay: she's with me all the time. Hearing her acknowledge my final ballet performance brought me to tears. There was no way Jessica could've known about the ribbon circlets we wore during that performance, let alone that I had danced professionally over twenty years ago. I will treasure my session with Jessica for the rest of my life."
The last few years have been rough on Juliette, 46: right about the time her second marriage dissolved and she finally got on her own two feet as a single mom, her elder daughter moved back home in an effort to conquer a very dangerous drug addiction. Juliette was nearing her limit, emotionally and psychologically, and hoping for any instruction the universe had to offer.
The message she received when she came to see me one cold January day was a bit disconcerting: “Buckle up, because the next few months will only get much, much busier.” She was told it would be close to another 6 months before her elder child found her wings, that she needed to get her paperwork in order and “just file for bankruptcy already!”, but that by the time November rolled around, she’d be back on top of her game and feeling like she had everything (more or less) under control.
With Juliette, I lucked out: we have a mutual friend, and I got to hear through the grapevine exactly what happened! Turned out Juliette’s life DID get busier: her daughter’s best friend moved cross-country to live with Juliette, too, and Juliette was promoted at work…meaning longer hours to match her better pay.
Juliette’s elder child and her friend moved into their own apartment the first week of July, and her bankruptcy hearing took place a couple months later in September. By Thanksgiving, Juliette was back to building a nest egg, had adjusted to her new work schedule, and both her children were happy, well-balanced individuals…just like their mom, who acknowledged that our session had prepared her for everything ahead of time. It was all a matter of relying on the guidance the universe bestowed, being patient, and knowing for certain it was all going to work out in the end.
And it did.
Kaye visited me because she'd just experienced two traumatic losses: her cousin was killed in an auto accident, and her coworker passed away unexpectedly four days later. Kaye, 28, had never lost anyone close to her, and couldn’t understand her inability to grieve. She shed a tear or two at each passing, but nothing further. “I’m not numb,” she acknowledged, “I just don’t feel things like I used to.”
The number 14 jumped out at me. “What happened when you were 14?” I asked. She couldn’t think of anything in particular that might’ve contributed to shutting down her own emotions. “Then tell me what you were like at 13,” I suggested.
“I was a goth,” she said. “I wore all black, I was angry all the time, and my parents divorced.”
“You pulled out of your funk, though? And came out emotionless? What changed?” I prodded.
“Well, when I was 14 I joined the area’s predominant religion…” When she explained what that entailed, how it changed her family and social life, and that her newfound faith had illustrated how easy it was to be happy, I heard a song play in my head: “Turn it Off,” from the Book of Mormon musical. I pulled up the lyrics for her to read. Her head nearly exploded.
“You’re dead-on: I turned off my emotions and replaced them with the superficial ‘happiness’ I was told I should feel. Half a lifetime of feeling nothing, illuminated in 5 minutes.”
To be clear, Kaye wasn’t “fixed” – she has many sessions with a qualified therapist ahead of her – but our visit provided the insight she needed, both to embrace the full spectrum of her emotions, and to move toward grieving those recently departed.
Sometimes the simplest insights motivate the most exquisite growth.
Mandy’s session was an “emergency” session: her husband had taken his own life a few weeks before, and she was understandably despondent. He was instantly there, desperate to communicate with the woman he loved. During the session “bipolar” popped into my head, and it struck a chord: after his passing, his family told her they’d suspected he was bipolar from the time he was little, but hadn’t realized the degree of his suffering.
I asked if he’d seen a counselor or been on anti-depressants, and she said, “He saw one a few months ago and tried medication, but didn’t stick with either.” I felt it immediately: he was afraid people would think him “broken”, so he hadn’t been honest with his counselor about the gravity of his situation, and didn’t like the medication's side effects. “He told me he just didn’t like the counselor,” she explained, “but he never looked for a new one, and you’re right: he hated the meds. They made him nauseous, and he couldn't drive on them."
I then asked what happened between them the day after Valentine’s Day…because that was the day he’d decided he couldn’t continue living in anguish. “He said he felt like something snapped; you nailed it again. He was different from then on. Two weeks later he was gone.”
He admonished her to take care of herself, to devote effort to healing, and when the time was right (in a few years), he looked forward to her happiness with another very special man. “In the meantime,” he prodded me, “are you thinking of...having a baby?”
She laughed: “I’m adopting a puppy!”
When someone passes – particularly under difficult circumstances – closure can be hard to come by. Mandy needed a final conversation with her husband, and knows he’s right: it'll all be okay…eventually. In the meantime, she’s found some semblance of peace with her sweet puppy “Fearless” by her side, and her husband watching over them both.