Set the Date?

I can hardly believe I am writing this, but it’s true: I’m thinking about setting a date to end my therapy with E. After all the hemming and hawing and resisting her efforts to nudge me along… after all the times I said “I should quit; this isn’t working,” or “I need to make a change,” but then never did anything about it… Now I’m finally, really there.

It’s been ages. I mean, most of you probably have no idea how very long it’s been. I think I first met E in 2003, or maybe spring 2004. That was at least 17 years ago! I only saw her for about a year or so though, and then I ran out of insurance benefits. (Side note: I am so thankful for laws that were passed in the meantime, which no longer allows insurance companies to set a maximum of 20 visits per year, which was the limit I used to run up against).

Anyway, I stopped seeing her for quite a while, didn’t have therapy at all for a few years. But by 2010, I was overwhelmed. My son Andres had finished high school and wasn’t doing well. My father was sick and wanted to come live with me. I was working long hours, with huge responsibilities. I felt like I couldn’t cope, so I went to therapy. E talked to me about boundaries, and I listened, but I didn’t do anything about setting them. I think at some level I felt I didn’t deserve to set those boundaries, any boundaries. I think I felt inadequate and feared that needing to set boundaries just proved I wasn’t up to being a mom, up to being good at my job.

In 2014, E asked me if I really still wanted to come to therapy. We weren’t really talking about anything new, so maybe I felt finished? I think that question was what finally made me break through my hesitancy and start talking about early abuse. Or perhaps I just needed time, just needed those four years, to feel I could trust her enough to open up. Maybe I also needed for both my boys to move out, which they did, and my dad to move in with my sister. That cleared a bit of mental space for me to be able to focus more on myself.

Then, once I started to focus more on my history and give it some space, I really went downhill. I think I was pretty severely depressed most all the time from 2014 until last year, with small reprieves here and there. That’s a long time.

But now I haven’t felt depressed for months. Of course the pandemic has been hard at times. It was hard when my dad died unexpectedly in October, or at various other times. And sometimes I have even felt some of that old depression garbage creeping back in. But it hasn’t lasted. I’ve had a resilience that is new to me, and I’ve been able to steady myself.

I feel ready to leave.

It feels good. I am not doing it out of hurt or fear or anger–all the reasons that used to prompt me to say in the past, “I am done!” Instead, I am leaving because I feel like I have integrated so much of what E has taught me. I have observed myself getting shaken by something–by life, as we all do on a semi-regular basis–and then watched as I have been able to remind myself to act with self-compassion, to lower judgment and raise up kindness to self.

I’ve been creeping closer to this place, this place where I can manage distress myself, for a long time. I think my troubles getting off Effexor delayed it some. And the repeated ruptures with E that came whenever she tried to tell me she thought I was ready for less therapy, and I heard it as rejection–that obviously didn’t help either.

Whatever! Maybe I just needed it to take this long, and this was the perfect amount of time for me. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be done one minute sooner.

But even though I feel ready, I’m having trouble setting a date. Should I be done next week? Or maybe I should go down to once every two weeks for a while, and then stop? Or maybe I should just move to monthly check-ins, rather than a firm stop?

It’s not just that I am not sure if I will want reminders or encouragement in future weeks and months. It’s also that E knows me so well. She is the only one who has heard so many of my stories. My husband knows some of them, but not all. Most other people don’t know them at all (well, you dear readers do, but you don’t know me irl).

It’s a special thing, the therapy relationship. Painful and difficult but also tender, reparative and sweet. We have a lot of inside jokes. There are moments E feels like a dear friend rather than a therapist. All of that makes it hard to leave. I know I will miss her.

She’s going on vacation in July. I hate therapy vacations, even when I’m doing well. Maybe I should end right before that? Then I won’t feel as if she left me, because I will have left her first. Ha, I don’t think I’ll fall for that.

Maybe I should stay with her over the summer, when we can sit outside in her garden. It’s lovely there, and I can just take my time and wrap up any loose ends I still feel are there.

Maybe I should go tomorrow and tell her next week will be my last session, and just go ahead and make the break. Then I’ll have done it and freed up the mental space that is currently occupied with making this decision.

I don’t know. I guess for now I just have to accept that I don’t know. I’ll figure it out, I suppose, in time. I’m not paralyzed; I’m just indecisive. I won’t stay this way forever. One day, probably soon, I’ll set a date.

6 comments

  1. Is there any rush? The reason I ask, is that I know we’re not all built the same, but sometimes I find I can get a new idea (in this case, to stop therapy) and then it hounds me until I’ve acted on it. But it might be you’re at the incubation period right now, which means to put it on the back burner until the mental weighing scales of your mind, finally top it over into ‘must do something’ more than ‘not sure what to do’. For me, when the scales nudge me in one camp more then the other, I feel more certain. And after such a long time, if there’s no rush, then you can probably afford to wait to feel more certain first? But even then, I know I’m going to have to reduce my hours slowly and wean myself off! I can see myself being one of those that had a monthly checkup or something, for a very long time! But like I said, we’re all made differently and it could be your methods work better a different way for you. What is certain though, is if it’s the right time, there will be more certainty deep down. I suppose that’s what I’d look out for.
    Or, you could agree with E to rush in and stop therapy, and then come back and say you’ve changed your mind if that happens! Then at least you’ve got all your angles covered!
    It’s lovely to hear you feel in a position to be able to think these things through like that though. It shows how much work you and E have done, and how much healing has taken place through your increased strength.
    Isn’t it traditional to have ending sessions anyway? So maybe if you strongly want to do this, you could go for your idea of doing your termination sessions in the lovely weather, outside in the garden, leaving it on a ‘perfect’ note that way.
    Whatever you decide isn’t likely to be set in stone and I’m sure you’ll do what’s right for you, you’re pretty attuned to yourself (and other people)!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Nothing is set in stone. It is so special and rare to have someone there if you need them. Someone you know you can trust and count on. That is a good thing! So good to hear your decisions rise from your wise place, and this one will too. And can be changed if need be.

    Like

  3. You sound so sure it’s the right time. I think it’s a magical place to reach, though also painful of course. I came on to write a post about having decided (I think!!) to not return to therapy in the autumn and your post was the first I saw – reading it actually confirmed I’m doing the right thing (I think – reserve the right to change my mind at this point!). It feels right but so much to leave behind when K holds our story – both our story before we knew her and her and our story in all the time with her. I know you’ll draw on your relationship with E and your time with her forever now. I feel my time with K is taking root inside me more since I’ve not been seeing her, it’s a strange and wonderful thing x

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I love this! I’m in the same place, though my strategy has been to have it peter out.. what do you think you’d like out of an ending? What would that last session (or last few sessions) look like? What would you want to hear from E before you say goodbye?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It seems to me that the greatest gift you can give to yourself right now is to take your time with this while paying careful attention to your needs (from all parts). This appears to be exactly what you are doing. 💕 Hugs to you as you continue to navigate this next phase of your journey.

    Like

  6. Q this is really inspiring. To have followed you since I started blogging (about 4 years!) and to see the growth in you really gives me hope for where I might end up one day. I really hope that you continue to chronicle your journey as it’s great to see people moving on and out of the attachment trauma and dependence stuff and see that it is possible to heal and integrate the positives… I know it’s a lifelong journey and we’re never fully done with the healing but there are other ways of continuing on that journey! Right now I can’t imagine being able to leave Anita so it’s fab to see that it does happen and in a positive and healthy way (rather than a nasty termination like with Em!). Whatever you decide to do and in whatever time frame I am sure you will get the balance right for you. Even if you don’t, I don’t think E is going to just disappear and will be there for the odd tune up xxx

    Like

Leave a Reply to slantgirl Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.