The Email Reply That I Won’t Send


Dear R,

Wow – it was so great to get your email yesterday.

I was so certain you’d decided not to reply. I thought maybe you’d forgotten me, or you never really cared in the first place. I’m so pleased the baby is to blame!

Motherhood sounds like it really suits you. When (T) read your reply, I think she felt she needed to reassure me, to tell me that your happiness was radiating from the screen. That was inevitable, though; you were always going to be an incredible parent. You didn’t know anything about Little’s existance; at least, not in the form I know her now. But your calm reactions and mothering behaviour when I needed it, meant I knew you’d be fab. I’m so pleased, though. It sounds like your puzzle is complete.

It’s hard to believe that that secret which became a tiny bump, then became a big bump, which sat between us in sessions, your best surprise that I was utterly terrified of harming, then became a baby who’s now over half a year old. Considering I work with children, I’ve never been so petrified of a pregnant lady! He brought flooding back so many horrible memories from Before, and an entirely overwhelming urge to protect him at all costs. His vulnerability mirrored a very painful set of memories of my own. Sometimes I wouldn’t tell you the deepest darkest thoughts – you and he were too important to risk damaging with them. I remember so many times where I lied to you, because I felt the truth could not possibly be safe for Bump to hear. I remember (T2) convincing me that babies his age didn’t even have ears yet! You offered me a hug in our last session, and I flinched and said no, despite me being desperate for that comfort: but what if the evil that flows through my veins somehow dissipated into you? Sorry. Half a year – has it been that long? Oh R, I’ve missed you.

My life looks very different. I’m a graduate, I’m more adult than I was when you knew me. My challenges are much clearer and my therapy is more intense. Can you remember all those fires you put out for me? You were my chief firefighter, my go-to person. You knew just which blanket or hose or spray was needed for each situation, and as we stamped out the last few embers, you were always ready with a laugh. It seems miraculous that we laughed so much, sat in rooms that hear so many horrors, but laugh we did. You were my light relief from the horrors of my week. I still re-read your emails now, turning them over in my mind, savouring the way your words seem effortless and yet your care shines through anyway.

We didn’t do the most intense therapy work together. Being adult with you felt so vitally important. I liked you too much. I needed your holding as an adult I don’t feel like I get to be anymore. We rarely got too deep. But somehow that didn’t matter – I needed our fun and our proactive-but-kind sessions not to be filled with intensity and all those emotions my therapy life is filled with now; shame, heartache, disgrace. They weren’t the best therapy sessions – but they were the best fun I’ve had with someone who knew about before. You reminded me I was human.

If we were working together now, I would be ribbing you about the email you sent me. What am I meant to do with this?! I’d exclaim. It’s so open, so unclear. Thanks a lot! I’d tease you, thanks a lot for making me choose which boundaries I need to set. And you’d smile, and remind me that I need to do what feels right for me.

But I don’t know, R. I desperately don’t want to lose a link to you – a brief update on the back of a Christmas greeting, a few minutes catch up over coffee next time I’m on campus. I could not bear any regular correspondence, you remind me of a time that was too precious and until I find my feet in therapy again, the memories are too bittersweet. Still, I don’t want you to vanish from my life, I don’t want to lose someone who holds such pure faith in me. I don’t want to lose therapy possibilities, once I’ve dealt with this most childish, exquisitely painful chapter. When I need someone to support me as an adult, not a broken 6 year old, you’d be on my list. Except, I’m worried that ship has sailed.
Is dropping you a no-requirement-to-respond email in the new year going to make me evil (again)?

I fear rejection. I fear that you don’t want me to reply. That if I did reply, you’d ignore it completely, without so much as a ‘leave me alone’ response. That I’d always be left wondering what I did wrong. I fear that your care was always an act. I fear the humiliation if I push your boundary too far. I fear disgrace. (T) told me outright that replying would be the wrong thing to do. Your comment in our last session runs around and around in my mind; “I love people to keep in touch, but they never do.” Do you want me to keep in touch? Is that why you left your email so open ended? Or did you just not think, did my attachment struggles and complete inability to make adult decisions slip your mind? Would you find this really funny, that such a simple check in has caused such ridiculous angst?!

It has been so great to hear from you, R. But the reminder of what I’ve lost, what I am grieving for, what my therapy is missing now, it’s so sore to bear. And of course, as when I make most of my difficult adult decisions, the person I desperately want to chew my options through with, is you.



6 responses »

      • More like: wow intense!
        It’s like I can feel your struggle.

        I think this is a good first draft.
        I’m convinced you need to send her something back (she cleary wants that), but think this through. It’s not bad if you send her this, but you’re so vulnerable here. Let it rest for a couple of days and then look at what you’d like to send her back 🙂

        Take care!

  1. Until you said about her being pregnant I could have assumed we were talking about the same person in the same situation… seriously, this is so close to a loss I am going through right now too. SCary xx

  2. This is wonderful. I think it’s great to see how much you really do care for R, but also some objectivity about the form the sessions took, and seeing that this is an opportunity to set up an appropriate boundary. I think those are all good things 🙂

    It seems clear that she wants to get in touch; not just her general sadness that clients (that seems too cold a word?) don’t keep in contact, but her specifically getting back to you and leaving things open ended. She clearly hasn’t forgotten you, and won’t have forgotten your attachement issues either. This is an opportunity to set up a boundary, to update her with how things are going, and to keep some infrequent but warm contact. I think you’d both like that, and the chances of her getting back in touch are high; just don’t ever be afraid that a delay in responding is a rejection, merely a reflection of a busy life at work, and also a busy life at home too.

    I hope writing this all done has helped you to work through things somewhat 🙂

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