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.