I’m a counselor. I spent my whole life trying to figure out what I wanted to be; I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, depression. I’ve been hurt, allowed myself to be hurt, hurt myself. I’ve felt alone and invisible even when surrounded by people. Somewhere in the midst of all that, I decided I didn’t want others to feel the way I felt…I was going to figure myself out so I could figure them out and help them move forward. And I did! Kind of. It’s a process.
Anyway, I’m a counselor. Counseling is a thankless career. People think we make a lot but we certainly don’t; we don’t get vacation and sick time. We don’t get salary. We do get everyone’s sorrow, trauma, anger, vitriol – the things people won’t show their closest loved ones, the heap onto us. And I think we might all be masochistic, because we ask them to. We purposely build one way relationships in order to encourage this therapeutic purge without purging ourselves. We spend years learning how to compartmentalize, purge without talking to others, create boundaries that keep us safe from the very situation we willing pit ourselves in.
Despite the way it might sound, I love my job. It’s hard when people are guarded, or when they’re stuck like in quicksand, but I still love it. I love it because my clients are each so unique and, even though they’re in the middle of the darkest tunnels without a clue what direction they’re walking in (let alone where the light at the end is!), I can see the path. And given what they’re living through now, successfully, I can see how resilient they’re going to be when they emerge. Will they be changed at the end, in some ways not for the better? Maybe. My experience says probably. But I can see the beauty that is going to shine from them, and I’m determined to show them the path…it drives me. It feeds me. Guiding them toward the incredible human being they’re destined to become – wow. It’s heady stuff.
It’s weird how we can’t do that for ourselves; there’s some confusing saying about forests and trees that I’ve tried to explain to my Hispanic clients completely unsuccessfully. I’m certainly not at the end of my own tunnel, and sometimes I get really turned around. But I feel like helping them find their footing is also helping me – if this potential exists in them, then it surely must also exist for me. If they will emerge beautiful and full of light, then surely I will be glowing after my long journey, too. Being able to see their light gives me the faith to believe in my own and the strength to keep walking.
I spent the first twenty years of my adulthood shuffling papers; may I spend the remainder of it turning faces toward the sun and capturing a little of the light for myself. It’s really beautiful.
I’m a counselor.