Until a year ago, Charlotte was my therapist. I use the word “my” loosely, as I hadn't had a session with her for close to four years. But she was the person I sobbingly met with when I was 18 years old and in the throes of depression, and with whom I built a relationship—fluidly moving in and out of contact—over the following decade.
She was the first person to truly witness my pain, and what I gained from our relationship ultimately influenced me to pursue psychology and a helping profession.
Which is why I found it confusing that, when I got word that Charlotte had passed quickly from a stage four cancer diagnosis to her death, I didn't feel immediately sad. Like a movie montage, my mind went to all the harmonious things I knew to be true of Charlotte, and it brought a sure smile to my face.
She consistently pursued her passions.
In addition to being a busy therapist, Charlotte was a professor of transpersonal psychology, a supervisor, a co-owner of a goat herd (yup), a student of spirituality, and above all a mother and grandmother—both in the flesh and as archetype.
She could readily share knowledge of everything from biopsychology to enneagram personality types to dream analysis, and she did so with energy. Her bookshelves were sky high and their contents were not for show. She did the work that helped her do the work and you could feel that in her presence.
She felt strongly and loved fiercely.
Some therapists are stoic, but if you told Charlotte a self-deprecating story she would laugh with you, and if you told her of harm done unto you would get angry on your behalf. She spoke of her family with compassion. and each member was reflected as a glimmer in her eye. When my sassy 20-year-old self learned that her zodiac sign was a triple-Scorpio and joked. “Your husband must like that,” she replied with a giggle, “My first husband didn't.”
If all this sounds like too much to know about your therapist, that's because Charlotte was not one to color within the lines. She used her human-ness in order to relate to those seeking her help. (One of my absolute favorite memories is of the time I was early for my session and ran into her in line at Walgreens buying a pint of ice cream. If that ain't humanizing, I don't know what is) Had she not been so Charlotte-esque in her work, I would never have felt so confident that she wasn't leaving many regrets on this earth, a fact that she later confirmed.
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