On Being a Therapist

  A 21 year old man screams, shouting that no one will ever understand the hurt he feels from being conceived from rape. He’s been a targeted murder victim over five times. His voice is starting to strain from over three hours of yelling.

  I stand to the side, interjecting that we should take another walk. He’s standing over his girlfriend, continuing to yell as she lays on the couch ignoring him.

  This is how our session began, and it will end with him walking off in the distance. I’m not sure whether he’ll find a place to stay, go back home later and make amends, or kill himself somehow. Such is the experience of a therapist. No matter what I see, however, what I feel will never amount to the lifetime of excruciating experiences people like him endure.

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Casual weeping/reflections/Threnody for the victims of hiroshima/Ultimate beauty

  Two of the greatest things you can do is help others and live temporarily in the wilderness. As I sit in the backseat of a Jeep, I think about the pines we’ll soon be sleeping under. My wife points out that a song playing on the radio is about domestic violence. My mind returns to the ugliness of the day prior, where clumps of hair laid on the floor because of escalated emotion and ferocity. I start to weep, a single tear leaking from my eye. My wife wipes it, thinking it’s eye irritation. I point out yucca plants along the road to shift my flow of thought. 

  As a therapist, I have to make sure I write down these experiences. I have to watch my drinking, making sure my imbibing isn’t the way I’m coping. As a lover of spicy bourbons and smoky mezcal, this can be tricky. I have to meditate, I have to exercise, I have to set limits, and I have to continue actively finding the beauty in life. 

  Being around the harsh realities of the world, you begin to really understand cacophonous music. Take this piece for example, titled for the victims of Hiroshima:

A lot of people hate this piece. I find catharsis in it. We need art like this to feel understood. The squeals and disharmony are a direct reflection of pain. Pain that’s like a pummeled eagle with mangled wings.

  I love being a therapist. I would never have made so many intimate connections otherwise. Intimate connections that are like flowery blooms on a desert cactus. The therapeutic relationship is a basis for organic growth, and ultimately beauty. Whether it’s a song I worked on with a client, watching them get excited for the first time in weeks, or simultaneously admiring a rap video, I smile, and they smile. Whatever pain that precedes us, there is opportunity for healing ahead.

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