I was working with a client at her desk. The desk had a lot of cubby holes that were stuffed with papers and notebooks. She looked down as she told me how badly she felt that she had let it get to this state. It felt like she was a kid expecting to be blamed for doing something wrong. I didn't see it that way. To me it's kind of like she was driving down the road, and she got a flat tire and she needed some helping changing tires. I wanted her to feel some relief from the harshness.
I said to her, "This looks like it could be in the Museum of Contemporary Art. It seems like a mosaic made from a lot of interesting pieces of things. Let's take a look at some of the pieces and see if we can find out what's going on."
Her eyes got wide.
I took out the notebooks from her desk. They were organizing datebooks. They went back to 1996. I asked her about them. She didn't want to let them go. She felt defensive in her desire to hold onto them. I asked if she referred to them. She said no, but she wanted to be able to look at them. I asked her why. She didn't know. I opened them up and took a look. There was some writing in the pages. Mainly appointments for some old jobs she no longer had. She explained those were frustrating times for her because she wanted to be successful, but the work never suited her. She felt it was her fault.
I said, "When you talk about that time, you sound uninspired. But you also sound like you should have been inspired. There's what actually happened, and there's how you think it should have happened. And the distance between the two bothers you. The truth is, you didn't like what you were doing. Sometimes we think things should be other than they are. That's the source of the discord in us. That's what's bothering you. That's why you've been keeping these datebooks. But maybe you can now say, "Well, it didn't work out like I wish it had...it went a different way. Oh, well. I think maybe perhaps yes I can probably let it go now."
She thought about it. I could feel the fight inside of her slipping away. She let the datebooks go.