It feels unreal that I could possibly be writing this post, after the journey I’ve been through in therapy. Not least because of all the times I have written on here that I am NEVER going to be out of therapy, ever ever ever! But this is where I am. So, here goes…
I think it’s time to start thinking about what happens at The End Of Therapy. Gahhhhhh.
T and I have been working together since January as one week face to face, one week phone call, and repeat. This was a cut down from weekly face to face (and before that, a check in phone call as well). After an initial panic at the change, it has worked well. We have had some really beautiful sessions (last time I saw her, she read me a book that really touched L and Sass especially) and we still love her wholeheartedly.
Recently, though, I’ve started to not want to go. I moved house last week so I didn’t have a session that week, and the week after something came up so I asked to speak rather than see her face to face. The morning of our session, I was struck by a really strong sense that I didn’t want it. I even considered texting her to cancel, but I can’t throw money away like that. So I didn’t cancel, but I did know that I could have quite happily managed without therapy that week. Which would have been three weeks without.
We used that session that I didn’t want to begin the very first conversation about a genuine end. We’ve talked about endings a million times before, but always with T telling me that I will want to end eventally, and me either telling T that I will never be able to leave her, or begging her not to leave me. That phone conversation with T this week was the first time I’ve probably ever considered that it might be possible that I will want an ending.
Having the conversation was hard. My switching is loads more under control than it was before, and it is rare that one of Little or Sass is totally and completely in control. Mostly, in day to day life, I’m still hugely aware of them and often they’re present but mostly alongside adult me now. They don’t tend to steal control anymore.
That phone call made it hard to keep them in balance though. I think it’s probably any discussion about ending. T noticed it. For every sentence that says that I want to take that time back into my life, the next is L begging T to work forever so we never have to leave her, and then a silent thought from S that she thinks that T is evil and horrible and she just wants us to be gone from her life and we’re being tricked into ending with her…. then we go round again. It makes me sound uncertain and contrary but I’m not. All the parts of me are absolutely sure what they feel and what they want. The difficulty is how to know whose thoughts and wants win.
Having the conversation has started a train of thought it’s been hard to break from since. L and S have their own opinions and it’s hard to honour their feelings when I’m also trying to honour mine. I’ve got a session with T tomorrow so I wanted to write before then. The rest of this post will be a bit of a list, sorry.
I’m scared to stay in therapy too long in case it ruins what we have. I don’t want to become resentful of having to go, or to feel like it’s a chore and then forget how completely beautiful it has been. I don’t want to stay so long that I ruin it.
I’m scared of not staying for long enough. If I end it too quickly and then need her, what if her spaces are all taken? T has said a number of times that I could come back if I needed to, but the logistics of that worry me. T is always crazy busy with life and what if I can’t fit back in?
I’m scared of a clean break ending. My entire sense of safety and wellbeing has grown and developed, based on T and her support in creating a secure attachment with her. It’s taken a LOT of hard work from us both but now, when things go well or things go wrong, T is the security that I hook to to remember that everything will be okay in the end. That had hugely developed over time, and her security has helped me create other secure attachments, but I am worried that a clean break ending would be like taking the floor out of a house of cards. Will an ending with T ruin that secure attachment? Will it bring all my others tumbling down?
I’m scared of NOT having a clean break ending. That opens up a million possibilities and worries. My gut feeling is that I won’t survive an ending without some ongoing contact, but what happens if I need her too often? What happens if I don’t need her but feel I should? What happens if I need her and she doesn’t reply? And then, when T stops working, what then? At the moment, T is extremely intuitive and most of the time manages to get it right as to when I need a reply and when I don’t. The occasional time that she doesn’t, it’s because I haven’t been clear. But is she intuitive because she sees me or speaks to me frequently? What about if we haven’t spoken for months? Will we both get it right then?
I’m scared that, clean break or not clean break, I won’t know if T is okay. As a client someone will at least tell me if she dies. I guess she would tell me if she was sick. When I’m not a client anymore, nobody would tell me. I guess if we were in touch, emails would just stop coming back. I know I don’t really know anything about her even now… but once I’m crossed out on the client list, that’s it. Nothing. One of the most important people in my life and nothing. I know it sounds daft but I keep dreaming about it. The other night, I found out she’d died because I was walking and fell into her grave. I landed on the coffin and in my dream went through every awful feeling of grief, sat at the bottom of the hole, the light so far away, and nobody knew I was there and I had to stay hidden because it was a secret and nobody could know that I knew about her death.
I’m scared of staying in therapy just to keep her in my life. At the moment, our regular sessions mean I can share what I want to when I need to, without too much guilt at ‘forcing’ her to be part of my life. It is very tempting to just stay in therapy forever so that this can continue. If therapy ends, what happens when the big stuff happens? I can’t imagine the big things happening and not telling her. Or her not being part of it in some small way? If I can email then I would still be telling her… but I’m not sure it’s the same. Maybe I’m naive for wanting it to change and stay the same simultaneously. Maybe that can’t happen. But it scares me that there could be a time when she isn’t part of my life.
I’m scared that T not being a constant presence will be a painful reminder or reenactment of my relationship with my mum. At the moment T won’t accept that she’s perfect, but she does (okay, 99 times out of 100) react in a warm, balanced and expected way which reconfirms the security of my attachment to her. When I need support, she is there. I know it’s fake in that I pay her to be that support, but once that stops happening I can’t even pretend anymore. She won’t be there in the same way… and I’m scared that will be too painful a reminder. Especially with the big stuff – my mum is not going to be a support when I get married or I have children, and it scares me that T won’t be there either. It hurts when my mum isn’t who I need her to be, but I think it might kill me if T did that too. I’m really going to need her to tell me I don’t look fat in my wedding dress and that I’m doing okay as a mum. My mum isn’t going to manage that – she never has – and right now T fills those gaps when I need reassurance and mothering. Ending therapy feels like the end of that and that’s scary and sad 😦 I will be so very lonely without T, in those moments.
I think that the way to manage this is just very, very slowly. We talked last week about how we will probably go to fornightly for a while first. But I think that tomorrow, and for a long time to come, I need to start to pulling apart these thoughts and fears. With T, of course.
It’s always been ‘with T’ for years. What the hell am I going to do when it’s not anymore…
Pic by Anita Jeram.