Silent Invitation

I heard his voice. I heard his words. Several minutes passed in this way. It was Monday. Twenty-four hours earlier, I’d been reading a book by one of my favorite psychotherapists on an airplane. I felt my body telling me that not all of me was back in the office. For months this client had been sitting across from me once a week. The psychotherapist I’d read the day before wrote as if he were a novelist. I often felt as if I were in the room with him and his clients as an invisible observer, which was how I felt now, during this fifty-minute hour: invisible. This word felt unwelcome. I felt unwelcome in my own office. My client was speaking about an email he’d written yesterday. I imagined reading his sentences, as if I would be a welcomed reader. I was welcomed in his mind sometimes, and I wondered whether fatigue was preventing me from discovering if I was welcomed there now. He was asking me what I thought about the email he’d sent. I wished I’d felt more welcomed at the workshop I’d attended and returned home from last night. My client was silent. Maybe he didn’t feel welcomed, either in his own mind or by me, and he was searching for a way to connect with me, right now. The psychotherapist who wrote as if he were a novelist came to mind again. In his books he was honest about his struggles as he listened to clients. I was struggling, right now. And this wasn’t the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last time. This was not the time for me to be invisible to myself. We were seated across from each other. What was happening between us, in silence? The silence in the room seemed to invite me to listen.

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