“Estoy cansada,” my client says as she drops onto my couch, settling herself inside the dip that holds her body every week.
I close the door to my therapy office and sit across from her. “I’m sorry you are tired, Anita. Tell me about your week,” I say. Then I sit quietly until she is able to focus.
She tells me that she sleeps all day, that her body hurts everywhere, and that her adult son never visits her despite the sacrifices she made to keep him fed and clothed growing up.
“You are a good mother,” I say. I know this because she also tells me stories about him—how happy, polite, and generous he is with others and how much they laugh together when he calls her on the phone on Sunday afternoons. I sit in silence, waiting until she looks up at me, her lip quivering.
“What’s coming up for you right now?” I ask, watching her pain flush away her hope.
After she leaves, I hold my breath. “Don’t!” I say out loud, but it’s too late.
In my mind’s eye, I am a teenager again, sitting in the hallway of my childhood home, staring into the open crack of Mami’s bedroom. Darkness had a way of looking cold on her. I knew Mami was fighting her depression behind her closed door and that she would not leave me alone in this world. I hoped she would soon walk through that door and look at me with those adoring, big brown eyes of hers—the way she did so many nights when I lay down to go to sleep.
Mami used to tell me that she cried the day I was born. “No woman creates something so beautiful inside of her and just lets it go,” she said. Mami said she had cried because she’d never been that close to me again, because she knew that I would slowly move away.
As a psychologist, sitting in my therapy office with Anita, I often think back to those days when I sat alone in the hallway just outside Mami’s closed door, waiting for better days.
Needham Heights, Massachusetts