Life without Therapy

Tomorrow it will be one month since I ended therapy with E. There were a few times in our 11 years of working together that we had a month-long break (usually because of her vacation, early on sometimes due to my work travel). I used to find those breaks painfully difficult, but this is different. This feels okay.

I haven’t journaled about it or really talked about it to anyone, so this is the first time I’ve sat down to ask myself, “Self, what is it like not to see E anymore?”

Well, I think about her most days. Pretty much every day, I think. Not with an aching heart. I just notice things I would have told her, if I were still going to see her. I sometimes read things and think of sharing them with her, before I remember that I’m not doing that anymore.

A few times I have really missed her, and when I have gone to bed, I have imagined that we sat next to one another on the sofa, and she put her arm around me. She never did that in real life–no touching, I always hated that boundary–but I developed a habit of imagining it as a way to soothe myself sometimes, when I really needed it. I probably don’t need it now, but a few times I still let myself imagine in.

I’ve remembered to check in with my internal world, though maybe not as often as I intended. I had told myself that I could keep Wednesdays at 2pm, my session time for the last two years of therapy, once I went down to only one session a week. I could keep that as a time to check in with myself, to journal, or maybe to write a blog post. But the thing is, 2pm on Wednesdays is the middle of the afternoon, and if I’m not going to therapy, I might as well get work done in the afternoon.

Still, I haven’t lost touch with the characters in my inner world. And for the most part, they are all doing fine. Sometimes they need me to sit still, close my eyes, and attend to my breath, reconnect to my body.

I haven’t really written about it, but I was sick for a good part of the summer this year. First I had a nasty withdrawal experience when I tried to drop my remaining antidepressants. And then shortly after that, or before I was even recovered from that, I had my first-ever bout of diverticulitis. And even though the worst of it only lasted a few days, I had trouble eating and feeling okay for about seven weeks.

Also during this same time period (late June to early August), my son Andres abruptly moved out. He’s not a planner–or at least he doesn’t talk to me about plans in any meaningful way–so every once in a while, he turns my life upside down. In November 2019, he abruptly came back home and lived with us. And effectively in July 2021, he moved to another state with a new girlfriend. It kind of made my head spin. It also made me really frustrated at the time, because I had put a lot of time and energy over nine months into getting him qualified for state developmental disability services. We were just about to sign off on a plan for him, and suddenly, nope, he wasn’t going to be a resident here any longer, and everything went out the window. If and when he moves back here, we’ll have to start from scratch again.

I’m more at peace about this now, however, because I have come to see that this new girlfriend is really good for him. She’s patient and flexible and appreciates all his good points (his kindness, loyalty, and cheerfulness, for example) while accepting his atypical behaviors. Meanwhile, around her, he is making healthier choices in terms of food, sleep, and daily activities–better than I have ever seen him do. So I’m glad for him for now, even while I know that at some point he may suddenly need to move back home, urgently, right now, and reshape the pattern of my days again.

These are big things, and there was a time when they would have thrown me off balance. I would have leaned on E, needing her to help me find my equilibrium. Now–at least so far–I feel like I have internalized the messages and practices that allow me to cope:

I’m not feeling well, but this won’t last forever. It’s hard to feel sick, and I can allow myself to rest without criticizing myself for being “lazy.”

I don’t know what will happen with Andres in the longer run, but for now, he’s safe and well, and I can rest in that knowledge.

Sometimes I will put a lot of effort into something I think is good for someone I love (like my son), and he will not accept it. That doesn’t mean my effort was for nothing. It doesn’t mean he did anything wrong. We just don’t always know how things will turn out.

I don’t know what is wrong with me [I felt sick for nearly 5 weeks before getting the diverticulitis diagnosis–a very frustrating medical runaround fed in large part by COVID and doctors being too busy], but I can allow myself to rest in this moment.

It’s okay to not know what will happen next. I’m safe in this moment.

I have people who care about me and are willing to listen to me process what’s going on for me. I don’t have to be alone with my worries or concerns.

When I look at these statements, I am kind of amazed. I really do think this way now. But it’s entirely foreign to the way “old Q” used to think. I’m so very grateful for the change. It doesn’t mean I never get upset anymore. Instead, I get upset, but I don’t get lost in my anxiety, I don’t stay in a place of helplessness or despair, I don’t berate myself for messing everything up. It makes such a difference, and I wish I could somehow transfer to all of you here on WP, you who are still so hard on yourselves, the permission to be kind to yourself, even if things are not always going well.

It’s late, and I’m rambling. I suppose all I really want to say is that, so far, I am coping fine without therapy, but E is still very much in my head–and in my heart.

10 comments

  1. Oh! I am so happy for your reflection. I am a month out today and I could have written this myself.. solid and fine; think about T everyday in a low-key, stuff I would share way; sometimes deeply miss it; not checking in with myself as much as I thought I would. But also stable and steady. What I miss is the way in which therapy oriented my week, it was something to look forward to and also something that sort of anchored the busy-ness of life with the promise of some quiet reflection. I also need to work now in the time I had booked off for Therapy (I used to take a morning off to get there and back), and my plan to keep that time for myself hasn’t really panned out. I wonder what 3 months will feel like, and 6 months, and 2 years… Also, very sorry about the diverticulitis! I’m glad you got a diagnosis. and I’m glad Andrys’ girlfriend seems like a keeper. I love the coaching you’ve been giving yourself. DO you pull out the cards E gave you ever? I have a nice email from my T that I copied into Notes so I can look at it when I miss her.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s so interesting to read this and to know you are reacting in some of the same ways to stopping therapy. Like you, I miss having the designated time to reflect, especially with someone thoughtful to listen and ask questions. At the same time, I kind of like that I am doing it “all by myself” (I sound like a three-year-old who can pull on her own t-shirt and leggings).

      I do look at the cards E gave me. I have them on my dresser, and every few days I flip through them and decide which one feels most applicable. Then I put it on the top of the pile so I can see it. In a way though, more than the words, what’s of value is simply that she made them for me.

      I have kept old emails from her as well. But so far, I haven’t read them. I think I fear that I’ll really miss her a lot more if I “hear” her voice through the emails. Maybe it’s best to let a little more time pass first.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So good to hear you are doing well emotionally, if not physically, after therapy. Those are such good thoughts to hold onto. I do know what you mean about a changed mindset….for me its not solid, but I’m aiming at it also. It’s the kind of thing you can’t just be told – you have to make these changes in thinking yourself.

    Sorry to hear you have been sick and hope you are better soon. And children – they are with us for life, aren’t they. The good and the bad.

    Take care

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m happy to read that you’re moving toward the changed mindset as well. Just doing something other than automatically thinking, “oh, I must be doing it wrong; I’m just shit,” that’s already a huge improvement!

      I am feeling better last week and this week, which is wonderful. And even more wonderful that Andres is doing well, for now at least. Yes, they may be adults, but they are forever our children. They have our hearts wrapped around them in ways they can’t even imagine.

      Like

    • So sweet of you to say, RB, even though I don’t feel awesome at all. Just, hm, ordinary I guess. And fairly centered and fairly able to cope. And that is an incredible shift from the emotional freak of the universe, which is what I used to think of myself!

      Like

      • Your journey brings hope to me – that there’s positive healing improvement that comes from the struggle of digging into the pain filled past. I truly appreciate the perspective you share. 💕

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a 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.