My memory seems to consist of one huge storage drive when it comes to my clients – I rarely forget which story belongs to which client. While the family or client is often dumbfounded by the question “Do you remember that?”, for me it is the most normal thing in the world. Despite it containing 23 years’ worth of ‘anecdotes’, there are some stories and clients that you don’t forget as a psychologist. Funny, improbable, scary, unbelievable stories that illustrate both addiction and client.
But one client in particular stands out in my mind. And not so much because of his story: I remember him because of his personality. When I saw him for the first time, he touched me somehow. His vulnerability and fragility. A young man with an eternal smile. I could tell that he had been very hurt in the past, to the depths of his heart and being. His bright blue eyes did their best to hide the deep sadness of a dark past but, to me, his loneliness and need were plainly visible. He couldn’t drown them any more in alcohol, hide them away in the depths of his brain with a joint, or laugh them away with a line or two of coke. He no longer had anything that could repress them in the depths of his dark thoughts, because he was clean. He was optimistic and in good spirits, and he wanted to make it. He had dreams of a future with his beautiful girlfriend, wanted a house and a child, and to face the world together. He was a master at controlling his emotions and subtly disguising his pain. Oh yes, there were several times when I could and did ‘reach’ him during our sessions. But I couldn’t prevent him from choosing eternal peace. All that’s left for me is to post a message on his Facebook page on his day. I’ll never forget him.