An Ending

I have vaguely mentioned Em before, in this post here.

She was (is?) an incredibly important part of my therapeutic journey and my in-person counsellor for two years. She is still my online therapist. She has everything in terms of access I could ever want with A.

The last time my brother attempted suicide and my family blamed me, she was there. The last time I was hospitalized because I was so afraid I was about to kill myself but didn’t want to, she was there.

She was the first person I trusted.

I can text her, call her, Skype her, and since she moved to New York City abruptly I can still go to her whenever I want.

But earlier this year, in March or April, I realized I wasn’t making any progress anymore. Skyping her was like talking to an old friend. I looked forward to our sessions as if reuniting with someone. I knew a lot about her life. It was when we talked about her coming to my wedding (she isn’t, but we shouldn’t have even considered it) that I realized maybe, maybe this wasn’t serving me anymore. The relationship wasn’t bounded the way I needed it to be.

Which is when I found A.

Em still checked in often and when A was on vacation for four weeks and I had a crisis and she hadn’t given me any supports to fall back on (a good story for another post), I reached back out to Em.

And we got stuck back in that cycle.

Suddenly I was paying for two therapists. Em gives me a discount (again a boundary thing) and I didn’t tell her about A and things were confusing and eventually my fiancé was like “PD, why are you seeing two therapists?” 

I knew the right answer was to end it with Em, but she brought and gave me so much and it hurts my heart, literally, to consider the end. She has actually saved my life before and is a crucial reason I survived through multiple damaging experiences.

I don’t want her to feel second best. I don’t want her to be upset with me. I love her, in a way a client can only love a therapist who has stayed with them through so much.

But the bottom line is that I have moved through what we worked on. I moved through the constant self harm and suicidality, the immediate things, the development of basic coping skills.

And I am so grateful to her for that.

But I can’t keep up with this duality. She gets that phone and Skype don’t work all the time and that my fiancé is usually home. She knows that there are limitations to that method. She isn’t a trauma counsellor who specializes in PTSD and attachment. She can’t do what I need right now and that is not a failing on anybody’s part.

But I don’t want what held me so strong for so long to be severed. And yet I know it’s what’s best for me.

We have a last closing call tonight and I know it’s going to break me a little but I also know it’s what’s right. I know she will tell me I can reach out whenever. I know that she means that but that it’s a reflection of loose boundaries that are only going to end up harming one or both of us. I know this because she should be the one making the decision that we are done for good unless I pay her in full and see her in person – and it’s me who is making it instead.

I am going to miss her. Our time together was important. But this ending is important too. I’ve come really far but I still have a ways to go and the person holding the light that guides the way this time needs to be A.

Update: it was the most perfect cry fest. If I have ever doubted the need for an end of relationship session or sessions, that ended now. We reflected on our time together, on the therapeutic alliance that we had, on my emotions surrounding the end. On how I haven’t betrayed her by leaving, on how she supports my decision 100%. On how she loves me and believes in me and is so incredibly proud of me. Em may have had some weak boundaries sometimes but the effects of our work have made me stronger. This chapter is over, but the remnants and positive growth will last a lifetime.

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7 thoughts on “An Ending

  1. This sounds so sad, the saying goodbye, and acknowledging her limitations. It hurts to see a person’s limitations in ways we might not have before, and realize we have, in a way, “outgrown” the relationship as is. Even if the goodbye is healthy and necessary, it still hurts an awful lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was. It really was. It was melancholic. Sad and wistful but a good sad, if there is such a thing.

      Even if it’s only good because as she put it, “two years ago you would have cancelled this, because you knew it would be a difficult conversation. But you showed up, and you are here, and that alone represents so much growth”

      Feeling my feelings is also growth. So the sadness and hurt is representative of growth… but you’re right. It hurts and I did my best to allow myself to be sad today.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I relate. I relate so much to this, at least to the heartbreaking ending. It is a loss. My amazing therapist of 9 years and I ended what had become a dysfunctional treatment last year. It was heartbreaking and stunningly devastating, even though it was the right choice. I always feel her support and love in my head. We agreed to be in touch once a year, as long as I wanted to. And if there were some years I didn’t want to, that was okay, too. I would always be the one to initiate the contact and since I am more comfortable in writing, it’ll usually be email. Sometimes I am still so achingly sad, and sometimes angry, too, that I don’t want that contact, and it’s a relief to know I don’t have to have it, but that I don’t really need to make any decisions until then (I picked a significant day for us, to keep things further boundaried). I love the idea that I can use that time to update her on my successes or deep thoughts over the year and that I can do so without turning to her in a crisis. I kind of see the annual contact as a chance for our mutual caring and love to touch without needing her to be the “therapist,” so to speak.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I so appreciate your comment and that you relate. While it was peaceful and loving and the best ending I could ask for, this morning and today is much harder than I thought it would be.

      While I know she is only a message away always, I also know that those messages aren’t healthy right now. I like the significant date, once a year type thing.

      Thank you for your comment – and in reminding me I’m not alone in these experiences.

      Like

  3. Man, this is such a hard (and brave) decision. I’m so glad that your last call was helpful and you were able to walk away feeling sad but appreciative of the work you did together. I look forward to hearing more about A as you continue to move forward.

    Like

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