In Your Bag?
This tells the story of how I learned what a gift letting
go of all that STUFF can be!
She was 10 minutes late. I had been told by my supervisor
that if this client was a “no show” or late one more
time, I was going to have to end her counseling sessions at the “free” community
mental health center where I was an intern working towards getting
licensed as a Marriage & Family Therapist.
Two minutes later, my client ran into the small counseling room,
dumped her large bag in front of her on the floor, grinned at me
and muttered “Whew, I made it!”
I sighed and told her the same, sad story again about there being
a waiting list for people who really need and want counseling services
at the clinic and that it wasn’t fair that they be turned
away when she was not able to keep her appointed times and dates.
She looked puzzled and said that she thought she was on time and
that she knew she wrote the time down in her appointment book. She
then started rummaging through her large bag looking for her appointment
book so she could prove it to me.
I had taken note of this large bag before. It was a “purse” of
abnormal proportions, made of bright red vinyl and looked like
it had been around a long, long, time. However, most noteworthy
about this particular bag, was that it seemed to weigh this young
client down. She was of petite dimensions, full of nervous
energy and I was sure the bag left a permanent indent on her left
shoulder. That bag seemed to keep the weight of the world on this
young woman’s shoulders and, if I could have my way, it wasn’t
going to do this any longer.
She continued to rummage through that bag.
I asked her to please stop. I then asked if there was anything
breakable in that bag.
She replied “no.”
I asked permission… if it was ok if we took a look at
what was in that bag together.
She didn’t say “no.” She didn’t
say anything. I chose to take this as a “yes.”
So, I lifted the bag, turned it upside down and dumped its contents
on the floor between us.
There were candy wrappers, old sales receipts, newspaper clippings,
assorted make-up tubes, lipsticks and lip glosses. There
were brushes & combs, feminine hygiene products, spare underpants,
a bathing suit, large plastic bottles of tanning lotion & hand
lotion. There were two wallets, two notebooks, 2 “daily
planners” (current year and 2 years before). There
were loose credit cards, loose keys, marbles, crayons, highlighters,
pens and pencils. There were toothpicks, toothpaste & brushes,
nylons and there was more.
I looked up at her and asked, “Where’s the kitchen
She grinned at me and answered, “It wouldn’t fit.”
For the remainder of our session, we sorted what was still of
use and could be returned to the bag from what clearly needed to
be thrown out.
Less than an hour later, with at most a quarter of the bag's original
weight on her small left shoulder, my young client walked out the
door a much lighter version of the person who had walked in … both
in “bag”, but much more importantly... in spirit!
What’s in your bag?