Dear Guidance Counselor

Honoring a person who changed the course of my path.


Dear Guidance Counselor

I apologize for not remembering your name - time has a way of stripping away details. The gift you gave me was not in your name, but in your heart. I am now forty two years old, mother of three, and married for fifteen years. Are you surprised? I never would have guessed this fate all those years ago. That time in my life when you knew the details of me intimately. It's funny how time has a ways of moving people in and out of our lives. I want you to know that although some of the layers have washed away, the key you held in my heart is still hanging in stillness. You were a pivotal person in my life. You may not know how much you gave to me. Maybe you do, and you gave it without any expectations. I feel it's most important for me to share with others the role you had in my life, and how you changed the direction I was heading. 

We met junior year of high school. I was spinning out of control, drinking, skipping school, although outwardly I appeared just fine. When we first met, I recall feeling uneasy because you could see deeper than most. You weren't afraid to see into my fears. You were willing to sit in the discomforts with me. So we sat quietly for our first few meetings. You were assigned my case, because I needed  to get back on track for graduation, and college. You were to be my guide. Little did I know that you were a gift, sent to guide my future in a way that had very little to do with academia.

As the weeks clicked on we began to cultivate a friendship. I allowed you to peer into my pains, and understand the difficulties I was facing. I had to work a part time job daily to afford to live. I had a mother who was checked out, and who wasn't able to guide me. I shared of the abuse I had experienced, and the constant fears that whirled around me. You never flinched, you never wavered. You sat in the pits of my pain with me, just as children would sit in a sand box. No expectations, only discovery. There came a time when I looked forward to our visits, and to have your safety. Your presence was always enough for me, the way you listened was like syrup on my wounded heart. I had never before been listened to in that way. 

I remember when you had an extra ticket to Swan Lake. I can still recall the excitement I saw in you, to offer the ticket to me. The chance to experience the beauty of the theater, was exciting! The performance was breathtaking. I'd never been exposed to anything like it, and since then I have become an avid lover of the theater, ballet, and anything in performing arts. 

Afterward, you surprised me again, by thanking me for accompanying you! I will never forget that feeling of being thanked for my company. You answered to my inner need to be special, to be valued. Wherever you are in your life, may you know that you redirected me from my path of self-destruction and self abuse. It may have been a few years later that I can credit you for this turnabout. I still struggled with substance abuse, and neglect of my body for a time. But the seeds you planted began to sprout. Little by little I remembered my specialness, that I am of value, and I needed to treat myself as such. Today, I am still healing from what I endured as a child, however, my love of self, art, and connection continue to bloom and expand in my world, and in those I love. Thank you for being so kind, and willing to nurture the qualities in my being I didn't know lived there. 

With Deepest Gratitude — Brigid Hopkins fka Corrigan