This client was a heartbreaker. From a big city. Went to a small college. He's my age.
“When I was a sophomore in college, I fell head over heels in love. She came from a small town. Spoke softly, and her entire affect generated kindness. She looked a lot like Julia Roberts, but prettier.”
“She was an artist, and majored in Graphic Design. A gentle soul, and it was reflected in her work. But the most distinct part of her personality was that she was absent of any pretense. She was as genuine a person I’d ever met. Sincerity was a part of every syllable. There was no sexual attraction, which for an nineteen year old teenager, was amazing. I knew, in part, that I wanted to be with her all the time. From that sensation alone, I knew that if I could love anybody, I could love her.”
“I wanted her to like me. I was pretty sure that, being as insecure as I was, nobody as beautiful and kind as her would ever like a guy like me. I wasn’t that smart, never had a girlfriend, and figured the whole “be yourself” thing was not only elusive, it was a sure way to be ignored.”
"So, I tried to be as cool as I could be, and the only person I knew that displayed that kind of confidence was my older brother. He swore like a sailor, had a huge ego, and presented with a bravado that you could feel a block away. He was a talker, and could take over a room with his energy.”
“The next time I saw her, I thought I’d throw a little bit of my brother’s energy into the mix. I couldn’t be confident as myself, so I tried to be confident pretending I was somebody else.”
The man looked out my window and shook his head and said, “I failed miserably.
“I found out later that we had so much in common. She prayed every day, and so did. She listened to soft rock, singer-songwriter stuff from the seventies, and so did I. She loved going for walks around the farms in her hometown, and I loved to sit for hours in the middle of nature near the campus, just thinking and reading, breathing in those moments of peace."
“Now,” he said, looking back at me, “I’ve been searching for the same kind of love all these years. And, a couple of times I’ve found it, and I haven’t been able to hold on. Invariably, my ego comes up, shutting off my essence, yielding to the fear that shields me from exposing the heart of who I am.”
“I am now,” he said, quietly, “a slave to my persona. And in the process, I have drowned my spirit. The person I truly am-the gentle one, the quiet one, the one that wears all his fragilities, his vulnerabilities like an apron on his chest-never comes out.”
“I’m too frightened, even today,” he said, “to be criticized, to be rejected for the person I really am. And, in the process, I will never be loved for the person people see.”
He cried. Just a couple of tears, a deep breath, a staccato exhale, and another breath. Then he looked at the clock. He looked around my office, took another deep breath, said, “Thank you,” and left.
I never saw him again.
The next day, when I came to the office, I found this poem by Shel Silverstein under my door. It was from my client.
“She had blue skin, And so did he. He kept it hid And so did she. They searched for blue Their whole life through, Then passed right by- And never knew.”