This Is Not Abandonment

​This is not abandonment.

Somewhere inside me, I know that. I know that I am still going to see A at least once a month for now. But a stronger part believes the quality of our relationship will change, or our relationship will end, because I see her less. That my worth is tied into how frequently I remind her I exist. That she isn’t going to be able to see me if I’m not physically there. 

I truly believe if I am less of a presence in her life that she will care for me less. And this, this is the root of everything. My belief that if I am not top of mind – however I manage to get there – I will not be loved or cared for at all. It’s why I lie when I sense relationships changing, swinging around desperate attempts of ‘you can’t walk away from me, I need you.’ It’s why I did what I always try not to do and dropped an emotional bomb at the end of session yesterday hoping it would be enough for her to go ‘wait, let’s sit and talk about this.’ And I again find myself so grateful for her boundaries, as she redirected with ‘we have 10 minutes left, PD, as much as it shouldn’t, this has to wait.’

I believe that if I am not in someone’s face and full of wounds that need immediate attention that I am not going to be loved. I have never had anybody care for me in this way I so desperately needed as a child. And I’m terrified it’s going to be torn away from me. And that stepping back out of necessity is going to speed that process up. I’m trying to cling to anything I can get my hands on because I am so afraid of losing this taste of what I have been missing – even though because I hold her (and I’m realizing, everyone) at arm’s length – it is only a smidgen of the relationship I could have if I opened up to her. 

I have been so alone because I never learned that being close was allowed, okay, and didn’t have to be earned. 

And oh my god does that hurt. This whole thing is touching into a rawness that I haven’t really seen before. I am so, acutely, aware of this pain. This pain that digs right into the root of how I felt unloved and abandoned and neglected for so many years. A isn’t leaving me and seeing me less won’t change our relationship (but I don’t even believe that as I type it, it just feels like what I should type). It will work out. I will figure this out. But I want her to rescue me. I worry that if I don’t need rescuing I won’t be loved. I worry that as soon as I’m out of sight I become out of mind and that she won’t care anymore. That her love is finite and if I’m not taking it someone else will. I guess that’s what happens when you have to fight for attention as a child – and you constantly lose. You feel like you’re yelling into an empty abyss even though there are people right in front of you. 

And let me be clear that I know her job right now is to not rescue me in the way I want to be rescued, and maybe in the way she wants to rescue me. That would do more harm than good. I am glad she didn’t offer reduced rates or a payment plan or any flexibility. I am glad, because that would feed right into my pattern. I sense abandonment or a change (whether or not it’s in that person’s control), I do everything I can to ‘save’ the relationship by making them feel needed (usually by lying), said person makes concessions or adjustments, I feel like by begging for attention I am worthy of their love, lather, rinse, repeat. Until they tire of my antics or get burned out, and I lose them altogether. By not making concessions, A is stopping this pattern in its tracks by not playing along. She’s refusing to bite at anything I’m throwing her in a desperate attempt to save a connection I feel slipping away. Even though what I’m throwing at her is true – it’s still in an attempt to stall what I feel is something that is breaking our connection.

I told her what had happened with my client and she expressed great empathy at the upset. And I said “and now, I’ve worked so hard, and I’m in this place with this relationship that is working for me, and it’s all going away.  Because this is how my life works. Nothing good ever gets to stay.”

And she said “I’m going to say something here that you won’t like. But stay with it, OK? Because you need to hear it. You’re making quite the cognitive leap here, PD. You’re assuming that our relationship will change, that I will care less, that you won’t matter to me, if you aren’t here every week. That all of the work we have done and all we achieved is thrown away if you don’t see me every week. That isn’t how this works. I will, PD, I will always care for you regardless of how often you sit on that couch and what you share there. My affection is not dependent on your behaviour or how often I see you.”

So she’s stopping my pattern by not playing along, but she’s also offering a corrective experience. By showing up for me, in the same way, whether I see her once a month or many times in a row, she is communicating my value simply as me… problem is I don’t believe it. I’m panicked, in this state where I believe it’s all or nothing. 

I don’t believe I don’t have to earn her love. But maybe the forced breaks will end up being a blessing in disguise, in that if she is consistent, and there, and continually corrective, that this experience will start to override the hundreds from the past. 

I’m giving myself the weekend to mourn, and to be sad, and I’m trying to be compassionate (I feel slightly stupid and very self judgmental at being this upset)… so if you don’t hear from me, I’m taking some space to really feel this… as much as I don’t want to. To mourn, to self soothe. To try to, anyways. 

And I thank you all for your support. I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.

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8 thoughts on “This Is Not Abandonment

  1. PD, I’ve been shitty about responding to others’ posts recently, but I want you to know that I’ve been following along and holding you in my heart.
    “I believe that if I am not in someone’s face and full of wounds that need immediate attention that I am not going to be loved.”- this really resonates me, along with so much else that you write.
    And, I’m glad to see that A continues to be a consistent and strong and loving therapist, even through everything that you two have gone through. She’s a real catch, and I’m happy for you that you have her, even though it really, really sucks that you will see her less often. xx

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  2. I can relate to the profound desire to be rescued. It goes back to feeling unseen and unimportant as a child and wanting to erase that by having someone rescue me now. It’s hard and sad and sometimes intensely painful that the truth is we have to rescue ourselves.

    It is beautiful and astonishing, however, to learn that people can care deeply for us even if they aren’t rescuing us, even if they don’t see us as often. I know you are in the hurt phase of this whole experience (and that’s necessary too), but I can already see the signs in your post that there will be time when you feel the warmth and strength and loving connection that remains between you and A.

    Sending you tender hugs and much admiration for your capacity to reflect deeply during this disruption.

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  3. I am really impressed with how you have dealt with this PD. You were honest with A and she was able to be honest with you.
    I’m sorry that you have to take these measures because of a work situation. The increased time in between sessions won’t make A care any less about you. But if you believed that you wouldn’t be in therapy. It’s not something that I think about with H but I find it easier to believe that she doesn’t care. A reducing her fee for sessions wouldn’t be enabling you to try to save the relationship either. You’re not paying her to be your friend. You don’t need to pay people to be your friends. She may have agreed a reduced fee if you had asked but that is totally up to you. If the connection does suffer, it will be because of your continuing fear and all the reasons you have given in your post.
    I’m glad you are letting yourself feel those feelings even if you are slightly reluctant to. It’s an unfair disruption to your therapy and I hope it isn’t a long term thing. Sending love x

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  4. PD…you continue to do some really good work through some really shitty experiences. What insight you have… but PD, what is happening right now is awful and unfair for you. It is ok to recognize that and be angry and sad….I often try to rush through those feelings as well to get to the “healing” but it doesn’t work that way. Don’t forget to acknowledge how bad this is, how unfair it feels and like you said, give yourself time to mourn. But don’t limit it to one weekend….allow yourself time to process it, as long as it takes!!! We are here with you and I’m so sorry that you have to manage this in your life on top of all the other pain you have been processing.

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  5. You have every right to be upset and to feel sad. It is okay. You are worried things will change, and that is so understandable. You are mourning the loss of weekly contact, and while a part of you can see that this can be a positive corrective experience, it is still difficult to accept. I think grieving seems right, in this situation. Take care this weekend, be gentle with yourself. Sending lots of hugs and care. Xx

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  6. You don’t have to push yourself to feel okay with this right away. You don’t have to embrace it as an opportunity for growth without mourning the change. You have so much wisdom and insight and that doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t feel absolutely shitty and devastated about it too. I’m glad you’re taking the weekend to feel whatever you need to feel – take as long as you need.

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  7. A lot of insight here. I know it’s hard to emotionally believe, but seeing A less doesn’t change her quantity or quality of care for you. For now, it’s going to be hard to see, until you experience it. Which, of course, sucks. Give yourself this time to mourn and to feel what you feel. It’s all incredibly valid and it’s okay. Somehow, some way, this will work out.

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