“But I like living in two rooms!” says the patient adamantly.
“Okay,” I say. Sometimes keeping my sadness to myself and sometimes not. But despite my feelings, like in any other business, the customer is always right. The patient directs the show, not me. After all, it is their life.
Thus, the hardest part of being a psychotherapist is letting go of outcome. The best part of my job is being a real estate agent. Yes, I get to show the patient the grand home that he or she is living in but refuses to occupy. They have enclosed themselves in two small rooms of their personal mansion, choosing to live their life in a safe, limited space. So, I’m the trusted, privileged tour guide. I get to lead the noble seduction into all the rooms, spaces and places that he or she has closed off over the years. The basement with its musky tools and unopened boxes, the attic with its generational treasures, the hall closet with its multiple I-don’t-know-where-else-to-put-it things. The many rooms of entertainment, love-making, intellectual curiosity and artistic creativity. Shit, if you got a mansion, I say, move in its entirety. It’s yours to enjoy.
Yet, I get it is scary. Reducing our emotional space to what we can control (or try to control) feels essential, as if we are fighting for survival. And yet the opportunity cost is so expensive. Not only are we wasting our million-dollar property, but eventually, we whittle ourselves down to nothing. All in the name of protection.
So, remove the ropes from the dining room door. Take off the plastic sheets from the living room furniture. Dare to face the ghosts of your haunted attic. For, life is to be lived. Mansions are to be occupied. Your soul to go around once. And I want that invitation for dinner.