Beware the Butterbeer Spiked with Veritaserum

I have a confession to make.

I’m a Gryffindor.

Now, with respect to your profession, you may have some thoughts on that yourself. I’ve sometimes wondered if you sort people into Houses as part of your diagnostic process. How could you not, right?

Granted, there’s a case to be made for Slytherin – that is not lost on me – and I think too that there’s even something to be said for Hufflepuff, but what I am not, my friend, is a Ravenclaw. I never quite possessed the discipline for that and as Dumbledore once suggested of Harry, I too display a certain disregard for the rules.

I’m a Gryffindor and my Patronus is a wolf, but when I first walked through those doors nearly three years ago I couldn’t summon that spell. The Dementors who stalked me – grief and anger, anxiety and depression — had drained my soul and stifled my will.

My arrival here was not a decision I made freely, it was, at least in part, made under duress. I had convinced myself of a lie and in doing so had been damned to a half-life. I think I knew that at the time, but coping with that pain seemed preferable to the journey that it would require to navigate the muck and the mire that had swamped my heart and mind. I had convinced myself, Rowena, that I had caged my demons and that would just have to be good enough.

Furthermore, I didn’t believe that anybody could tell me anything about myself that I didn’t already know. But the reality was that I had not caged my demons; I had merely chained myself to them. The unknown element in all of this was you, of course. I had no way to anticipate or expect your indomitable spirit or your relentless commitment to perspective and positivity. You’re an inspiring human being, Rowena, a genuine source of substance in my life, and I hold you in the highest regard.

On one of my very early visits here, in fact, in may’ve been the first – I saw you. This was before you were assigned as my therapist, before I’d even been made aware of your name. We weren’t introduced, we didn’t speak and it’s not something you’d likely recall. I was seated on one of those awful couches in the dreaded orange room, surrounded as I was by present company, I had begun to think that perhaps I was quite well adjusted and had grossly misjudged the severity of my issues.

Thinking back on it now, I’m amused by how closely the whole mood mirrored that scene from “Trolls” when Branch and Poppy arrived in Bergen Town to witness the downtrodden denizens perform that mournful rendition of the Gorillaz’ “Clint Eastwood.”

But then, as if you were whisked into the scene on the winds of grace, you flooded the room with your signature aura and that brilliant personality as bright as bubblegum. Poppy, in the flesh.

The sudden shift in contrast was as sharp as these things come. It was as if a vibrant, Broadway star armed with jazz hands and dressed in a sequined top hat, feathered boa and fish nets had suddenly been teleported into the smoke-filled, grimy exposition of a monochrome film noir.

As you spoke with a staff member I thought, “What is she doing here?”

The whole episode lasted just a few moments before you turned on your heel to leave, but before you did you looked in my direction and offered a brief smile. You may’ve departed as quickly as you had arrived but in your wake was left the distinct impression of warmth, comprised of equal parts goodness, light and hope.

It’s been a welcome if not unexpected journey thus far, Rowena, and I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to adequately express my gratitude but I hope that these sentiments will suffice for the time being.

Just as every student ultimately graduates from Hogwarts, I know that the day will come when our sessions together are at an end. And while I hope that day isn’t any time soon, I trust that when the moment does arrive, I’ll wield the wisdom and bear the armor necessary to become the person I was born to be.

I’m not sure where you found it or if perhaps you forged it through your own brand of alchemy, but you’ve held a skeleton key to every chest I ever locked pain inside of, to every doorway behind which I concealed gaping wounds. You made sure that I didn’t have to open them alone. And as the tragedies and heartbreaks piled on, you ensured that I understood the meaning of each and in the process taught me to transform that adversity into the very thing that would heal me. You see, that’s your magic.

It was you who reminded me, time and time again, that the pen is my wand and words, my magic. You know, I think the time has come for Hermione to relinquish a certain title because it’s you, Rowena, who’s the brightest witch of our age.

Merry Christmas, and as always, lumos, my friend.

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