Lately, I have been saying a lot of Goodbyes.
I tell myself that this is the hallmark of a good therapist. I tell myself that if I do my job well, families will not need me anymore and that means Goodbyes are good.
I reassure myself that, as the school year ends, kids and families start looking forward to the ease and sun of a carefree summer, so the work of therapy gets heavier and putting it down- if only for a while- is a natural shedding that follows the season of our lives.
These things are very true. And, still, saying Goodbye is hard for me. I am in a very strange profession where efficacy is tied to intimacy... To help a person, I must deeply know and understand them. I am privy to fears and hopes and sadnesses and secrets. It is only natural that, as a person reveals their beauty, I grow to care for them more.
If I had a magic wand and a lot more time, I wish I could peek in on the lives of my former kids' and families every few months for the rest of their lives. I could see if She decided to continue soccer or lacrosse... if He ever settled into college like he planned to do... if She finally found "her people" in the new school... if Their marriage beautifully bronzed with time... Sometimes, I will hear about former families- they will have a Win, or a Loss- and I celebrate with them or cheer them along privately, from afar.
I grieve, sometimes very deeply, for the loss of connection with every child and family I have ever had the privilege of serving.
During weeks or months that are filled with more Goodbyes than usual, I have a harder time. So, I have to go slower. I savor my work. I mindfully focus on being present. I celebrate the Wins that show up each week. I cry.
And then, I harness all of my gratitude and funnel it into the next Hello.