Inspired by the topic of "Angels Among Us" featured in our current issue, the following are excerpts from Janet’s first book and memoir “Field Notes on Letting Go: A Memoir of Truth-Seeking, Healing, and Personal Freedom”, and its accompanying Pondering Workbook. Both are available for purchase now online and anywhere books are sold.
How do you say goodbye to someone who saved your life? Does that sound dramatic? Okay. Then, who would I be now if Wendy had not been in my life? That is more palatable. I am not the same person. She taught me what taking care of myself really means—and how to put my health first. And to know that I know—to trust that all is on schedule. To trust the process.
Wendy taught me to be patient and allow things to take the time that they need. If I had one sentence or piece of guidance to take away from over ten years of therapy with Wendy, it would be, “you get to choose.” I have choices. I can be this way or that or both or neither and I can change my mind. My favorite color can be yellow today and pink tomorrow. “You get to decide.”
It is weird to think that Wendy knew me better than any person on earth, than any being. I revealed all of myself to her. She was never surprised, concerned, or confused. She was open. She was all love, all compassion. She had a smile and freckles, and I could see a little child in her face—wise, knowing, full of wonder and curiosity. She enjoyed the richness of the life experience, daring to feel it all, knowing that while it meant we would experience deep pain, we would also witness and embody pure joy—miracles. And that you can’t have one without the other. When I felt like life was punishing me, she comforted me with details of her own life, with as many bumps and rough edges. She helped me see bumps as learning. She also shared that she found those with a lot of bumps to be interesting and powerful.
She didn’t question me when I reviewed the same experience or topic endlessly. It was like having to pick up the same rock on the shore every day for months, study it, turn it over and over, reviewing every mark, bump, and detail. I would place it back on the beach, thinking all its lessons had been learned—all the information digested. But the following week, I needed to pick up that rock and study it some more, even when I didn’t want to. I needed to take it in with my eyes wide open, feel it with my hands, turning it over and around, feeling the weight of it, the grooves and edges. I needed to make sense of the rock. Confusion would come back in and settle in my gut, and I would feel uneasy. She would listen and reassure me—set me straight—and I would place the rock back on the beach. She never questioned my need to talk about the rock. She never suggested that I leave it where it is and keep walking.
If I did not want to say goodbye to her, then why was I? A good teacher, a good friend, a good therapist becomes integrated into oneself. It is a limitless resource. Her truths are part of my being now. Saying goodbye created the space for the universe to connect the right person to her and her to the right person. Saying goodbye was my giveaway, my gift back. It's a gift of gratitude for her. My therapist. My teacher. My guide—and for my friend, Christina, who connected us. And my gift to a person I will never know. Then, in time, together, they will slowly dig through the artifacts and see the beauty in them, the hidden gifts, their warrior self, through the textures and cracks.
“You did the work, Janet. You led us. You are brave and powerful. It was my honor and privilege to witness it.” See? I knew you would say something like that. Did you know that I still talk to you? Did you know that my routine now includes prayer, contemplation, and recaps of events? You and lots of others are in my heart. You will be there when I need you or to talk about the rock again or some other object on the shore. And even when I do not need you, I will share other things, too—like the miracles. I see your freckles. I see your smile.
Reflections on Someone Wonderful
In Field Notes on Letting Go, Janet shares her spiritual journey and valuable lessons as she worked through her childhood trauma. And, with Field Notes on Letting Go - A Pondering Workbook, Janet provides a safe space for exploring feelings and memories through writing exercises. The companion workbook is designed to support the processing and feeling of challenging emotions while exploring the landscape of your past, present and future.