I Haven’t Been Entirely Honest

Hello friends–and I do consider the people in this small corner of the internet to be friends, thank you–I think I owe you an admission. I haven’t been entirely honest.

I mean, I haven’t intentionally lied to you either. It’s just that I realized I have been downplaying something important. I have been doing it to you, and also to myself. I have been writing as though I stopped therapy in August 2021 and that was the end of it. And that’s just not really the case.

It’s true that I stopped therapy with E, my very long-term therapist, 20 months ago. That was a huge change in my life, and I haven’t seen her again except for one (unsatisfying) time nearly a year ago. All that has been accurately represented on my blog.

But I think I have made it sound as though that meant essentially no therapy–and that is not correct. All this time, I have been seeing Charo. I mentioned her a little in some previous post or two, I know I did. She is the one I started seeing for EMDR/brainspotting, back around February 2021. The idea was that we would work for a short time, focused on a couple of specific past experiences and issues that I continued to find very triggering.

It hasn’t ended up working that way at all. We never tried EMDR, because Charo said she found brainspotting to be much more helpful. We did try a little brainspotting, but never with any of my scariest memories. I tended to find that what it did was make my mind jump around and remember various things, most of them trivial, none of them deeply emotional. I wasn’t convinced this would lead much of anywhere.

Instead, we shifted to more of an art therapy approach. That’s what Charo was first trained in, and as someone who loves mixed media art-journaling, I enjoyed pulling out my watercolors and pencils and making blobs and marks to express confused feelings that surfaced for me. For a while there, we mostly processed 1) my current relationship with my son Andres and 2) my loneliness during COVID isolation and 3) sometimes, my conflicting emotions about ending work with E.

Somewhere in 2022, Charo started getting deeper into Internal Family Systems, taking more trainings in that approach. If you’ve read many of my posts, you’ll know already that parts work really resonates for me. Little by little, we (mostly) abandoned the painting and scribbling I’d been doing and started doing deeper parts work together. Last year I switched from seeing her every two weeks to usually seeing her once a week.

I mean, seeing someone once a week and doing deeper parts work definitely qualifies as being in therapy. But not only was I not writing about it here on my blog, I wasn’t fully admitting it to myself. I kept hanging on to the idea that this was something temporary I was doing, even as I passed the two-year mark this winter.

Does this sound crazy? I mean, how can a person who has spent so many years in therapy pretend to herself that she’s “not really” got a new therapist?

You might think it’s a question of pride, that after being so brave or determined to stop working with E, I wouldn’t want to think (or have you all think) that I need therapy any longer. But I don’t think that’s it. Instead, I think it’s been a self-protective delusion. If working with Charo “isn’t really therapy,” then, well, I am not at risk of becoming deeply attached to her, like I did to E. If I am not deeply attached, I won’t need her, like I did E. If I don’t need her, she can’t hurt me, like E did.

After all, really I stopped seeing E because she kept hurting me. Never, ever intentionally, of course. But she had very particular ideas about attachment and independence, and some of those crushed the child part’s need for a very safe attachment. Or I kept looking for some level of connection, of love, that wasn’t possible there. Or some mixture of those things.

I don’t think I ever consciously told myself, “Never again! I am never getting attached to any therapist again!” But perhaps I subconsciously told myself that, because even as I went on seeing Charo, and learning from her, and liking her, I never considered that she might become important to me. It just wasn’t going to be possible, I believed. Perhaps I thought I was protected because I already had those big horrible therapy moments, the ones where you tell someone for the first time ever that such-and-such a person raped and humiliated you. I had done that with E and had that shock to mind and body that comes with trusting someone with your worst secrets. I had done that with E and experienced the amazement and relief and love you feel when you find that someone can know your history and still like you, can see you as worthwhile and not covered in shit like you always thought you were.

Anyway, maybe I thought that without all that drama of revealing untold secrets, I wouldn’t have the emotional intensity with Charo that I had with E. And in many ways, that’s probably true. I don’t long for her. I don’t poke at the meaning of the words she says to me, wondering if they mean I’m her favorite client or her most annoying one. I’m not obsessive about her.

And yet. Lately I find myself really looking forward to Thursday morning, when we have a session. A couple of times I have written her a text. I have held myself back from hitting “send” until right before our session (I’m *extremely* afraid to trying out-of-session contact ever again!), but it does indicate to me that I am thinking of her out of session.

I’ve tried to pretend to myself that this isn’t real therapy; it’s just a transitional thing. I have tried to downplay how important Charo is to me; maybe I have tried to keep her from being important to me. But just over the past couple of weeks, that delusion I was clinging to has started crumbling. And I’m not sure how I feel about that. Tonight I am asking myself, Do I even want to feel attached to a therapist again? Do I need this? Is this a wise idea? Am I setting myself up for more frustration and heartache?

I don’t know what the answers are to those questions. But I suppose it’s a good thing to at least get honest about the space these “temporary, short-term” therapy sessions are starting to occupy in my life.

CREDIT: Photo by Diane Helentjaris on Unsplash


  1. BRAVO AND KUDOS! Therapy is hard work, time consuming, exhausting at times or all the time, and costly.
    I applaud you. We all could benefit from it, but not as many are courageous enough to do it. I think the attachment is necessary in order to do the work. Not sure there’s any way around that and the pain of parting. I have high regard for those willing to do this work… : )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, thanks, but I don’t know that I deserve so much credit for continuing to go to therapy that I wasn’t even thinking of as “real therapy” for a long time!

      I definitely agree that we need trust to do the work, and I do trust Charo. She’s shown herself to be very steady and reliable, warm, calm and supportive. But do I have to be really attached? To me that implies thinking about her outside of session, missing her, wanting something more… or maybe that is just problematically attached, and I was that with E in the past. Maybe there’s a healthier version that doesn’t involve as much frustrated longing? I don’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. No judgement whatsoever on not sharing this before now. I totally understand how your long term therapy with E would affect how you processed this new therapy relationship. I’m so interested in following your journey as I approach the ending of 8 years of therapy with a wish to never ever feel attached to a therapist again 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for saying this–it’s always so interesting and helpful when I find out that there are others who can relate. So are you never wanting to feel attached to a therapist again because it wasn’t helpful? Or it was helpful but it’s just painful and hard and you don’t want to repeat the experience? I’d love to hear more, if you feel like sharing (no pressure, of course).

      Liked by 1 person

    • I am so deeply attached to my therapist and love him so much and because the attachment and associated feelings that occur in and out of session continue unabated to be ridiculously painful after 8 years, I’ve finally decided to end therapy. I have been staying in it for the last year or so because I’ve been so scared of leaving and the thought of never seeing him again seems too incomprehensible. So should I ever be able to start over, I’d like to do so with the least amount of pain as possible and that will involve somehow having a completely different kind of attachment.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for being brave and sharing, I imagine it wasn’t easy. A lot of what you have written about E resonates, particularly alongside my recent ending with Ella – you mention E hurting you, and the attachment and those were major things in my therapy. I have been deeply hurt by Ella and can understand the pain you feel/felt with Es changes. I’m glad you were able to take a bit of control back and end on your terms, I wish I’d have had that courage, it certainly had been something I’d been considering before the termination. I don’t dare start looking again, and will see how things go with Anne, maybe my needs can be met with her. Your new therapy sounds very meaningful, and if you choose to write more about it I’ll be here to listen. I see this corner of my world friends too. It’s comforting knowing you aren’t alone in your recovery struggles. Lots of love.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It was a good thing I ended with E, yes. It just felt like we went in circles, me always chasing the feeling of secure connection, obtaining it for a session or two, then losing it, then starting the same thing all over again. What I finally decided was that I had tried many times to communicate this to E, and she wasn’t hearing it in the way I intended. Nothing was changing, because on her side, it didn’t seem like there was a problem. And I didn’t know how to change it by myself from my side. So I decided I didn’t want to do that little dance anymore. Obviously I still feel upset sometimes (“Why didn’t see understand? Why did she think things were okay when they didn’t feel okay to me?”). Other times, I’m able to say, “okay, people see things differently sometimes. E did a lot of good things for me, but there were things we never perceived in the same way.” It kind of depends on how stable and centered I feel. But things feel different with Charo, easier and more steady. But who knows what the future holds–there was a time when things with E felt steady and secure, too.

      I’m rambling. I guess the point is: thank you for your comment, your interest and your encouragement. Deep therapy is hard, isn’t it?

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I think it’s important you came to this understanding of your position as “being in therapy” in your own time. I definitely understand not wanting to risk the attachment and all the fun that comes with feeling that attachment, but you are so good at grounding yourself in your thoughts and feelings, so I know you will work through this. I’m glad you took the needed steps for yourself, whatever path that ended up being.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Also, I really know what you mean about the fear about out-of-session contact. I feel so afraid of derailing my new therapy relationship through the same means. I actually want to write about that a bit.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s weird isn’t it–out-of-session contact can be SO HELPFUL, but it’s also a minefield. I feel like it was a huge support for me and, in combination with sessions twice a week, a bit reason I was able to process some very difficult stuff. And yet, even though I tried to be really careful–and E even said that I was always respectful of her time and her privacy–it got to be too much for her, and that was crushing.

        I think I am glad that we had that time of intense contact, but I don’t want to do it again with anyone else. (Ha, we’ll see if I can stick to that! The attraction of intense connection is so strong…)

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I relate to this post so much. I totally understand how you’re feeling, and while I’m still with my long term therapist, we’ve definitely been through it over the years. And I could never imagine having to “start over”. I think it’s okay that it’s taken time
    To get here, to admit that maybe this is therapy again. Protect your heart, but it to a degree that it ends up hurting you. You deserve to heal, and to have people help you heal.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Easetheride said something similar (above), that maybe it’s okay that it’s taken me time to even admit that this is therapy again. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but not I think you are both right. In fact, maybe I needed time to develop enough of a history with Charo that it even felt deep enough and real enough to be worthy of the name “therapy.” So thanks to you and ETR both, I think I’ll stop telling myself that I was lying or pretending. I’m grateful for that perspective!

      I will try to find the balance between too much and too little vulnerability (if there even is the possibility of balance) in my work with her. I know it isn’t easy, but maybe my prior experience with E will help me be wiser this time.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I generally have a lot of brain fog these days, for what feels like forever, so I really wish I could write a long and thoughtful comment.

    I see people here on WP as friends, definitely.

    It makes sense that it’s complex, why you didn’t want to call it therapy. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry to hear about your brain fog. I’ve experienced a lot of that in the past, and it’s so frustrating–like you can’t quite reach your own thoughts, or they come to you in very exaggerated slow motion.

      Regarding calling my work with Charo being “in therapy” again, I think part of it was that I kind of liked thinking of my ending with E as a graduation of sorts. Not that I believe there is ever a time when we are “cured” or don’t have struggles anymore. But I liked the image of myself as someone who had worked hard in therapy, learned a lot, and now could manage on her own. Which is weird because it’s not like being in therapy was something embarrassing that I needed to get past.

      Anyway, as you say, it’s complex. There are probably more layers to how we think about our own therapy relationships than we can be aware of all at the same time.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ah Q. Bless you. No one is here judging you! I can completely understand your reluctance to bring it here or even admit to yourself that you’re doing therapy. After what happened with E and the hurt you felt for the young parts of you I would imagine that any therapeutic work you might be doing would be consciously (or unconsciously) deliberately different. You probably wouldn’t be going out and seeking a repeat experience – especially with the attachment stuff. I mean who wants to get burnt again? So it makes loads of sense that the work you have been doing with C has been kept in a slightly different camp in your mind. I’m glad you have had the support from her and what you’ve been doing has helped you. Therapy in whatever guise can be a lot to process and I imagine looking at how you manage your feelings and what you bring to C would be interesting – i.e do you tell her more from an adult perspective, are the child parts kept away or are they even there? Anyway, glad you’ve shared your news and always reading with care and no judgement. Take care lovely xx

    Liked by 1 person

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