When I was saying my goodbyes to E almost two months ago, I read off to her a list of things I had wondered if would be okay after we ended therapy. Could I send her an occasional meme or poem, say no more than twice a month? Yes. Could I text her if there was big family information, like my son getting engaged? Yes.
[Side note: My son got engaged! And I adore his fiancée. I couldn’t be more delighted.]
Back to my list of questions to E: Could I send her a birthday card in October? Yes.
Well, you know what? It’s October, and I don’t want to send her a birthday card after all.
I feel a little guilty about this, actually. I want to want to send her a card. I want to think, “Oh, E did so much for me over the years. I’m grateful. I appreciate her. I want to wish her happiness.”
But instead, what I honestly feel is mad. I feel mad at her. Can you believe it? After everything she has done for me? I hardly can.
But I do. I feel mad about old ruptures that we really just papered over and never truly resolved. I feel mad that she didn’t help us face them together. Or maybe what I really feel is that I was not understood, which means I was not seen, which means (at least to a wounded younger part of me) that I was not worth making the effort to see. And that makes me (or a wounded younger part of me) feel hurt and angry.
I don’t know exactly what I am going to do about this. Except, you know what, I am not going to send a card. I am not going to ignore the feelings of this hurt, mad, perhaps unreasonable but still tender little part of myself. She can be mad if she needs to be. I’m committed to listening to all parts of myself, the easy ones, and the not-so-easy ones too. I won’t override her feelings and send a card that isn’t an authentic reflection of my whole self.
Not that I think E will notice much either way. She is an extrovert, with a big circle of friends. She throws herself parties, if she feels like it. She has plenty of people who love her, and she deserves that love. She has many good, caring, generous traits. That can be true, and it can also be true that maybe she didn’t do a good job healing up some pain between us. She can be a good person, a good therapist, and I can still be pouting and mad about ruptures we had several years ago.
Happy birthday, E. I don’t begrudge you a lovely birthday, with cards and presents from many people. There just won’t be one from me this year.
CREDIT: Photo by Monirul Islam Shakil on Unsplash