It’s not so easy to let go of your therapist.
To be fair, I’m not quitting therapy. Not yet, anyway. But I’ve started my letting go process, and it provokes a range of emotions.
The last time I wrote, I described the way I’d come to terms, at least for now, with my anger and sadness over losing texting access to E. I didn’t like the change, but I could accept it and all the powerful emotions that went with it. More than two weeks later, that is still true. That raging bear is still sleeping peacefully in the corner of my emotional house.
That’s meant I needed to decide what comes next in therapy. Honestly, since January, much of what preoccupied me in therapy had been my unhappiness over not feeling able to text freely with E. (Yes, it’s also true that I went through some dreadful venlafaxine (Effexor) withdrawal and a lot of waffling about whether there was any point to group therapy. But neither of those generated the same emotional intensity.) If I wasn’t there to grieve or fight or challenge or struggle with my attachment to E, what was I doing?
I’ve processed a lot of trauma history. I have told E about things I thought shame would prevent me from ever telling anyone. I’ve learned a lot about paying attention to my thoughts, questioning their accuracy, and consciously changing them when they are feeding me painful lies. But most importantly, I have learned to be honest with E about how I feel in our relationship. I can tell her now that she has hurt me, and I can do this without suggesting she is a bad person. Doing this is more empowering and than I ever would have imagined. It tells my inner wounded child that my adult self can stand up and defend her when needed.
That’s pretty much what I think I needed in therapy. It’s true that I still have a lot of challenges in my sexuality, but I’m working on that with Marie–something to write about on another day. It’s true that I need reminders and repetition to stick with my mindfulness practice and remain committed to self-care. But I don’t need therapy twice a week to do that.
So last Wednesday, I told E I felt ready to start decreasing the frequency of our sessions. “Let’s cancel our session for next Monday,” I told her, cringing even as I said it.
“You don’t have to decide right now,” she told me. “You can think about it a few days and let me know. And don’t forget, you even have this coupon; you can cancel at ten minutes before your session and not be charged.” (She gives her clients these coupons after she has had to cancel last minute due to illness or emergency. I have never used mine.)
“No,” I said. “That defeats the purpose. The idea is not to decide at the last minute about whether I need to or want to see you. The idea is to get myself adjusted to the idea of waiting a week to see you. The idea is to use everything I have learned to cope, to comfort myself, to give myself what I need. Knowing I don’t have a session on Monday will make me do that.”
So that’s what we agreed upon. And all in all, it’s been okay. I mean, I haven’t had nightmares or flashbacks. I don’t feel like harming myself. I haven’t felt unable to cope with my life. On the contrary, I think my newest supplements have actually boosted my energy and concentration, so I am better able to work (more on that another time, too).
But oh, I have missed her. There is nothing like that safe space. Now that I know I can be accepted in her office as my full, real, messy, longing, contradictory self, I want that. I want to tell her things. They don’t even have to be important things. Maybe I want to share a meme with her, something that encapsulates what we have worked on. Maybe I want to ask her what she thinks about my new ideas for work. Maybe I just miss her.
Definitely I just miss her. I miss my time in that office, sitting on the floor with her. We still sit on the floor and surround ourselves with markers and mandalas to color, even though most of the time we don’t use them anymore.
On Monday morning, I thought about checking her online scheduler. Maybe no one has taken my slot, I thought. Maybe I can go back in and reserve it.
But I didn’t. I didn’t even check. Because however much I miss her, even more than that, I want to be healthy. And healthy at some point is going to mean living most of my life without her.
It’s okay to miss her though, I tell myself. It makes sense. It’s normal.
To honor the part of me missing her, the part that likes to sit on the floor and color with a safe, accepting person, I sat at my kitchen table and tangled a card for her. I’ll take it to her for my session this afternoon. Thankfully, that’s only four hours from now.