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.