Naperville therapists

Photo Credit: Brian DePalo via Compfight cc

Dear Fellow Travelers,

I’ll be the first to admit, writing a letter like this is unusual.

We’re not supposed to talk in public about what we talk about in private. You’re supposed to hide your decision to see me, as if it means you’re more damaged or more fragile than the average person. And I’m supposed to have power over you—degrees and expertise and insights I’ll unleash at just the right moment. I’m supposed to take my authority very, very seriously, and I’m supposed to protect it by telling you very little about what goes on inside of me.

Well, I call BS.

And I do so for one reason in particular: you’ve told me again and again you feel badly about weighing me down with your wounds and burdening me with your, well, burdens. So, I think you need to know this: early one morning last week, I opened my calendar and was overwhelmed with gratitude. I looked at the list of the precious people with whom I’d be spending my day, and I had only one thought in my head:

I’m the luckiest person in the world.

How many people go through every day of life—especially weekdays in the workplace—and never have any kind of authentic human connection? How many of us are hungering for just a little bit of vulnerability and honesty and reality? And yet, this is what I get to do at work, all day.

I can’t believe I get to do this.

In ten years, you have radically altered everything I believe about people. I used to think people were basically bad to the bone—selfish, vicious, devious. And it’s true, those things do exist within most of us. You’ve shown them to me. But then, together, we’ve located a deeper, truer place within you. A place where a light burns so bright it’s Beautiful, with a capital B. When I go to work, I get to be reminded there is something brilliant at the center of every human being.

I’ve been humbled by your beauty.  

I offer you something you can’t find too many other places—I observe, I remain objective, and I openly share my insights. Sometimes they are a revelation. And sometimes they are just flat out wrong. When they are, you tell me so, and you share with me your insights about who you are and how life works. To do my job well, I have to embrace uncertainty about my own ideas and I have to be open to the accuracy of yours. And it is utterly freeing.

I’ve been humbled by your wisdom.

You come in and you say things few of us dare to say out loud. For an hour a week, you fashion a place of true belonging from your vulnerability and daring and determination to become unlonely. Some weeks this is more painful than others. Some weeks it doesn’t happen at all. But then you show true courage, and you return again, to try again. When I go to work, ordinary people teach me about extraordinary bravery.

I’ve been humbled by your guts.

You refuse to sleepwalk through this life. You refuse to numb yourself to what’s going on inside of you and around you. You insist upon finding your way to a life of consciousness. Alertness. Awareness. Awakeness. The truth is, the sun has dropped on plenty of mindless Saturdays in which I was left wondering, “What is the point of all this?” but I have never been left wondering that at the end of a day at my office. You are seeking to live your lives fully alive. And I get to witness it. Join you in it.

I’ve been humbled by your passion.

We live in a world in which, it seems, the flags are always flying at half mast. There is so much to grieve. Most work, unfortunately, has become a distraction from our grief. But when I go to work, I join those of you who have decided grieving is an essential part of being alive. You cycle through your denial about what hurts, your anger at those who’ve hurt you, your disappointment about what could have been, and you find your way to peace about all the sad and sacred pain of being human. You’ve taught me how to open up to all of it.

I’ve been humbled by your tenacious tears. 

You see, when I go to work this week, I won’t be the only healer in the room—I have a bunch of healers listed by name in my calendar. Because you all teach me the tender truth about what it means to be human, and then I pass that truth along. In this way, actually, you’re all healing each other. I’m just the conduit.

I can’t believe I get to do this. But I do.

We do.

With gratitude,



If you’re interested in receiving future Artisan blog posts by email, CLICK HERE to subscribe to the list. We’ll post approximately two times per month, and we’ll never try to sell something to you. Therapy is the one space in the world you get to receive without feeling compelled to give in return. We want the Artisan blog to feel the same way.

Dr. Kelly Flanagan

Dr. Kelly Flanagan

Kelly is a licensed clinical psychologist, practicing at Artisan Clinical Associates in Naperville, IL. He is also a writer and blogs regularly about the redemption of our personal, relational, and communal lives at Kelly is married, has three children, and enjoys learning from them how to be a kid again.

Disclaimer: Posts on the Artisan Clinical blog represent a combination of our therapists’ personal opinions and professional experiences, but they do not reflect professional advice. Interaction with a therapist via the blog post or the comments section does not constitute a professional therapeutic relationship. For professional and customized advice, you should seek the services of a counselor who can dedicate the hours necessary to become more familiar with your specific situation. While all blog comments are read and appreciated by our therapists, the blog cannot be monitored continuously, so if you have a need that requires immediate attention, you should go to your nearest emergency room for assistance. We do not assume liability for any portion or content of material on the blog and accept no liability for damage or injury resulting from your decision to interact with the website.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists, you can do so on our "make an appointment" page. We respect the privacy and confidentiality of our clientele, so we write about ourselves, not our clients.
Dr. Kelly Flanagan

Latest posts by Dr. Kelly Flanagan (see all)

Free as a (Stubborn) Bird: Moving From Self-Defeat to Self-Worth
Ready or Not, Here Life Comes (and Goes): The Everyday Joy (and Grief) of Parenting