Therapy, I was telling a despondent patient the other day, is like someone holding a mirror up to our soul. Sometimes what we see in it is the youthful, ageless part of us that shines and sparkles bright . Other times what stares back at us is the wrinkled by time, scarred by pain, burdened by responsibility side of us which we want to disinherit and run away from in anger and disgust.
When I was in my doctoral program we were expected to have therapy ourselves. We were asked by our professors to look into the same mirror that later on we will be holding up to our patients. So I, like the rest of us doctorate aspirants, complied with the request admittedly not without my reservations. As therapy progressed I named my therapist, half in zest half seriously, Freddy Krueger because many times after our session I felt that my heart was shredded as if I had spent the hour with the infamous soul-shredder. However, it was during those times that I learned the most. As if the oak tree of my life got taller and stronger with every emotional storm it weathered. I learned to look at my broken or bent branches, my scarred and carved bark as the emblems of my survival as the signs of my uniqueness. My therapist taught me what to trim, what to cut off and what to nurture and strengthen.
So, my dearest teacher and guide, in case I have not said it before, thank you for often "being cruel to be kind". Thank you for showing me that the future does not indeed lie in our stars or in the wounds of our past but rather in us, that the chapters of our lives lying ahead are for us to write because as Henley said:
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul.