A client who is in the midst of a painful breakup asked: “How do I ever love again? How do I open my heart up again to the potential of this type of pain? It makes me never want to date or risk that ever again.”
My response back was this:
I had a client who I saw for about a year when he was 16. He mostly dealt with the typical high school angst. Fitting in, bullying, trying to figure out who he was. He showed up and did the work and made progress during the time we worked together. It was hard, at the end of the year, to say goodbye to all of my wonderful adolescent clients who I had grown quite attached to. But that’s how therapy training goes, you move around a lot filling requirements.
About 10 months later, his mom reached out and asked if I was taking new clients at my now private practice and if I could see her son again.
It had been less than a year since I saw him last. In just that 10-ish months, his younger sister, who was all but 15, had been diagnosed with Leukemia and had passed. To be honest, I wasn’t so much concerned about him and his grief as I was about the parents seemingly hiding from their own grief by overly focusing on him and his.
My point in telling my current client this story of a past client, is that when we decide to have children, or get married, or love another — we do it without any indication of what might come. My daughter could run out into the street today and be hit by a car. My partner could be diagnosed tomorrow with cancer and only live another 6 months.
And yet, we choose to love anyway.
It all ends. For every one of us. We are all on the same train, with the same destination, some of us just get off sooner than others.
The practice of living is to love like it’s going to end (John and I have a chapter called this in the book, actually). There is a possibility of pain in everything we do and we do it anyway because that is what living is. And, there is a fear of this pain for all of us, of course. Maybe not front and center, but it’s there. We know the risk, somewhere, deep in our psyche. For some of us, the fear isn’t so deep and it actually prevents us from showing up and living and loving as fully as we could.