Saying goodbye, at least for now.

Last week, and yesterday, I had my final two sessions with J over telehealth.

There’s been a lot of emotions and I’m still processing everything. It certainly wasn’t the way I ever pictured our relationship ending, and not something that I would have preferred, but it happened all the same. So now I’m in Phase 2, as L calls it, sorting out how I feel in the aftermath.

The first week we met, I found the courage to share my feelings of anger towards her for the way she’d handled the situation. I was able to tell her that her actions left me feeling like a loose end or just a case she needs to close. I was hurt and I made that clear.

Although she didn’t apologize for some of the specific things that bothered me, she did apologize for hurting me, and emphasized how much she wasn’t aiming for that. And I knew this was true. She doesn’t strive to hurt me.

We spent the rest of that session catching up and getting updated. She told me a little bit about her son. I told her about my steps towards better mental functioning with routines, romantic relationships, etc. It was really nice to just talk to her, I forgot how easy it was to tell her everything. I forgot how little it took from her to make me talk.

That session ended quickly and though I cried some during the time, I was largely okay afterwards. L was kind enough to call and talk with me for a few minutes, which was appreciated.

A particular moment that stuck with me was at the end of our time, when I said to her “I don’t want to never talk to you again” and she smiled “I don’t want that either.”

So I took that little tidbit to L and upon exploring my feelings surrounding it a little more, L had a suggestion for me. She thought maybe there might be some value in asking J if I would be allowed to send her updates via email. Not all the time of course, but every couple months. Something that would keep the connection present, even though the relationship would be changing.

I was so nervous to ask, but L really pushed. She said that considering how important J was to me, it was worth the risk. I just kept flashing back to J telling me that “all her cases were closed” while she was on leave and wondering if I’d get a similar type statement here.

It was a long week in between sessions, but yesterday came eventually. Before I knew it, I’d gotten through a day of babysitting and was signing on to see her. I was extremely anxious, and I owned up to it when she asked. “That’s understandable,” she told me.

Then I got down to business and asked her about the emails. To my surprise, she said yes. I was absolutely allowed to email her.

“You’ll be like my pen pal,” I joked and she smiled. I think she was secretly happy that I wanted to email her, and that she wanted to stay in the loop of my life too.

We spoke about the restrictions surrounding that. Obviously, nothing that would put her in a position of having to provide therapy virtually. The self-harm and suicidal thoughts stuff was out, unless I had a positive update to share.

“If I missed an email from you when you were in crisis,” she explained, alluding to the drastic consequences that could occur, “well, I couldn’t handle that.”

It was sweet to say.

Honestly, the fact that she’s willing to receive emails from me changed the game. It transformed the situation from a final goodbye into something that felt more temporary, because I knew we would have contact. She even said she’d probably reply to the emails.

Early on in my session, I began crying and didn’t stop the entirety of the time. Every time I said something to her about how much she meant to me, or how she saved my life, or how much I’d miss her, I’d collapse into tears again. There was a lot of emotions coming to the surface in our time together and I was forced to feel every bit of it.

We talked about the ways I had grown since we’d started our work together. “The fact that we’re talking from your own apartment right now is huge,” she said. I agreed. I also remembered how I was in her office when I got my first job offer and how excited she had been for me.

She said some very kind things throughout our time together about what a hard worker I was, how empathetic, how kind and I extended the kindness back. She was particularly taken when I told her that I could understand the decision she was making, and that in her shoes, I’d probably make it too. She told me it meant so much to hear, almost as if she was being pardoned.

When I communicated this to L, she said that J reacted this way because she so badly didn’t want to let me down. And maybe she was right.

And for once, she actually admitted that she cares about me. I told her I think it was the first time she’s ever straight up said it instead of talking around it, which she didn’t believe but I’m pretty sure I’m right. I really needed to hear it, as much as I knew internally she cares about me, from her directly. I’m glad I did.

Our conversation also strayed to the challenges of hearing me talk about wanting to end my life. She told me that her heart deeply ached for me whenever she heard that, and how badly she wished she could take away those struggles. “You don’t deserve one bit of it,” I was assured. Another thing that felt really nice to hear.

As the time came to a close, I felt dread knowing that the call was going to be ending. Then she said the words that I’ll hold onto for the rest of my life. “I want you to know I think the world of you and you were never ‘just a client’.” I continued to cry and stated that our relationship is special. “It was,” she said, and then amended her statement, saying at the same time as I did “It is.”

It was incredibly hard to say goodbye, but I did it. Shut the computer and immediately began to sob. One of the worst moments of my life by far, up there with the time I forgot to pick up S and finding out that I didn’t get my dream job on my birthday.

Then, thankfully, I had a session with L that allowed for more crying and just in general to pick up the pieces. I don’t know what I would do without this woman, seriously.

She spent the majority of our time just reminding me that I had done it, that I was strong and resilient, and look at how well I was coping. By the end of the time, I felt slightly better and was much more composed.

So here we are, one day out. I know the ebb and the flow is going to be strong with this one. I was okay the day after she left on her leave too, but the emotions came flooding back when I least expected them to.

I truly believe that somewhere down the road our paths are going to cross again. She may not be my therapist now, or for awhile, but she’s going to come back into my life eventually. Maybe it’ll take years, but I like to think it will happen.

For now, it’s just about surviving. L tells me to be completely gentle on myself so that’s the effort I’m trying to make. Comfort food and Disney movies and sitting in my safe haven typing this post.

I’ll make it through this. I know I will eventually. L reminds me that I’ll be able to think of J fondly without feeling the pain that accompanies that thinking now.

I hope that time comes quickly.

 

 

Interpersonal Ineffectiveness

I went to a party for my friend A who is moving away to another state. This happens to be the same friend that I had the whole moving debacle with last year. If you weren’t reading then, or don’t remember, we were pretty close for the first two-thirds of the year until I showed her a little too much of my crazy. After I admitted to her that I had suicidal thoughts and explained what BPD was, she decided not only that she didn’t want to live with me, but that she would begin to distance herself.

It sucked and it reinforced everything I’ve ever believed about myself.

She never did anything direct like saying she didn’t want to be my friend. Really, we just stopped texting and didn’t walk into or out of school together anymore. She is part of my special education team but has a different role, so as this year began she tended to stick to her crew of people.

I guess I didn’t try very hard either, but I had gotten that sense of ‘she doesn’t like me anymore’ from her so of course any action from me felt like a lost cause. I figured she was secretly harboring negative feelings about me.

Anyway, so A’s party was yesterday and at her party are C and F. I’ve talked about them before. They are the ones that I got drunk and self-sabotaged in front of last year on a vacation, after which our friendships were never the same. I already felt like a third wheel, but it became even more apparent after that trip.

I was struggling for awhile to determine whether it was wise to fight for the friendships or let them dissolve. I didn’t want to just give up on something that might be salvageable on a whim.

That post was from October and honestly, I haven’t hung out with a single one of them more than once or twice since that time before yesterday. We were friendly at school, we talked about making plans, but nothing ever seemed to transpire. C and I still worked together, so we saw each other there, but neither of us ever sought each other out. F and I spoke rarely and the few times I did try to text her, I got no response.

There have been a few positive moments though. C and I went hiking last month. F texted me out of nowhere to wish me a belated happy birthday and tell me she was excited to see me at the party. These were little glimmers of the relationships I’d had. But were they enough? I didn’t know whether to trust my hope.

So when I was invited to A’s house for her party, I was wary about it. Maybe it could be a chance to rebuild some of these relationships? Maybe I’d find things were easier? I knew I had to go and find out.

The party was fine, I guess. No one was openly ignoring me, but I wouldn’t say anyone really made an effort to talk to me either. I sat with the group of C, F, and another colleague while we talked, made comments here and there, and otherwise listened while trying not to dissociate.

What made the conversations particularly hard for me was that they constantly injected little mentions of times that they had hung out that I wasn’t invited to. F would mention a time she went to a bar with C. C alluded to the fact that she’d seen my other colleague recently. A and C talked about a few mutual things they’d done together.

Each time they’d look at each other and share that moment and each time, I felt further and further away from them. L has said in the past that maybe it’s normal and natural for them to hang out in pairs and that it’s not necessarily with the intent to leave me out. This is something I’ve always had trouble really being able to understand, but have tried to get behind.

Still, I keep coming back to the same thought. Why don’t any of them ever show interest in hanging out with me?

It’s clear that they all text and yet when I try to, it’s difficult to hold a conversation with them. Even in person, things don’t come as naturally.

I know that part of the reason the interactions are jagged are because I completely feel like an outsider. I don’t believe that they like me. I don’t believe that they want to be around me. So I’m not comfortable when I talk to them. I question everything I think and say. Did that comment annoy them? Do they think I’m stupid?

And my intuition seems to be right a lot of the time, so why believe anything different?

It feels like another failure for me, another example of my BPD stepping in and ruining everything. This just perpetuates the cycle and reminds me that I have no chance in successful relationships. Ever.

I don’t know what to do now. With A moving to another state, I promised I would try to keep in touch. I suppose that’s an opportunity. But what to do about C and F. They clearly have a good friendship that doesn’t include me, even when that used to be the case.

Do I keep trying? Do I try to make plans with them and see where it goes? Or is it better to cut and run?

I wish I knew what the right choice was.

Adjusting Isn’t the Easiest Task

I feel like a little bit of a hypocrite for writing this post. First, because it goes against all of the positive things I’ve been saying about L and the impact she’s had on me. Second, it just doesn’t emit the gratitude that she deserves from me right now.

But man, I am having a hard time connecting in therapy with her the last couple sessions.

Let me start off by saying that this isn’t in any way her fault. She hasn’t done anything wrong. In fact, she continues to be there for me in and out of session however she can be. I’m working on texting less with the goal of trying to allow her the break she deserves, but sometimes I slip.

Yet despite how wonderful she is and how thankful I am that I at least have her in this mess of things with J, I am hardcore struggling for the fact that she is not J.

I remember posting, back when I thought J was still returning, that I had grown to accept both of them for their differences as providers. Both of them had their individual strengths and drew different things out of me. This was all when I thought that I would have the opportunity to be with J again

And I do, I do accept L. I embrace the person and provider that she is. I wouldn’t have made it through this period without her and her special brand of honesty coupled with spectacular insight.

But now I’m also so acutely aware of how she’s different from J because J wont be coming back.

I’m struck constantly by the reminder that I’ll never sit in J’s office again, never hold the pillow or stare at her carpet or name things by color when I’m distressed. I’ll no longer sit in periods of silence, which I used to hate but now crave because they were the moments where our eyes would meet and we could just exist together. I’ll never have interactions laced with the same style of warmth. While L is warm in her own right, she is also a lot more blunt and vocal. J has a very soothing style and demeanor that differs and always calmed me.

You’d think that after seven months of being away from all this, I’d be adjusted to it by now. I thought I was, and maybe that was true, but this new information upended all that.

I’ve been honest about this with L because it’s been fairly obvious that something isn’t right. Whereas before I felt settled and comfortable, now it’s painfully uncomfortable to be seen by her. I shy away from her gaze. I cover my face if I think I might cry.

I have cried more in the last couple weeks than in the couple months before that. It feels as if I am constantly in tears whenever therapy rolls around. It’s almost like the office has become it’s own triggering space that reminds me of J.

She’s been so understanding about all of this and keeps assuring me that her ego is checked at the door. It’s a grief response, it’s normal, it will fade with time.

And it’s especially so obvious because I’m sitting in limbo right now, between the first of my two sessions, waiting for it all to end.

As much as I don’t want to have to say goodbye, I know that when I can focus on my relationship with L solely, it will help us to rebuild the strong connection we have.

Of course, then I think about L on her maternity leave, which certainly doesn’t help. My attachment pains are in overdrive. But one thing at a time.

For now, I just have one more session with J to endure and then the adjustment process really begins. And with it, I’m sure there will be more crying. Regardless of how spacey I can feel during session and that my needs are not being completely met, I’m so grateful I have L to sit with through this. I’m seeing her three times this upcoming week. Hopefully that will be enough to get me through the crisis period.

This all just really sucks.

Well, shit.

I think I may have just crossed a line into eating disorder territory.

I’ve been real angry and frustrated all day for no other reason then because I can be. I know that everything looming on the horizon with J has got me in a whacked out place.

The choices I’m making leave a lot to be desired. While I may not be sabotaging by cutting myself, I’ve found other destructive ways of coping. The eating thing

I thought I had it under control. After a bad binge a month and a half ago that left me super sick the next day, I resolved to do better.

And I really was for awhile. I wasn’t overeating and I was making healthier choices. I felt like I’d turned a corner.

Then J unleashed her hell on me by telling me she wasn’t coming back.

I think I’ve been treading water since the day I found out. It’s really taken a toll on me in other ways. I’ve let my house fall into disorder, my hygiene has slipped, and I sleep all the time. Really, when I’m not babysitting or in therapy, I’m not making productive use of my time.

It’s frustrating, because I want to be motivated to do more. I want the energy and I feel like if I just tried hard enough, maybe I’d find it. But I continue to falter and beat myself up for it.

Food is unfortunately my comfort item of choice. I’ve been feasting too often on the unhealthy picks this week, but it culminated today in an overwhelming amount of junk food, pizza, and ice cream.

I don’t know why I did it. In the moment I think I hoped that I’d feel better, but that didn’t last and all I was feeling afterward was bloated.

Staring down at my stomach and thighs, I again began to beat myself up for gorging. My weight has been such a point of contention for me, and I’m so uncomfortable in my own skin.

So I did something that I’ve never done before. I made myself throw up.

I’ve tried once or twice and been slightly successful but never like this. As I’m laying in bed typing this out, I’m overcome with conflicting feelings of relief that the food is out of me, shame for my eating choices leading me here, and fear.

Ultimately, I know I’m in control of my choices, but I don’t feel that way. I think my struggle with eating has just gotten the best of me.

I guess we’ll see what happens next.

Outgrowing

I’ve been back babysitting now for about the last week and a half. It’s been a slight nudge in the direction of normality, being able to be with the kids. Actually, I’m not just watching them, I’m also watching two of their neighbor friends who I’ve known pretty well for the last couple years. So if you weren’t keeping count, that’s four children.

My job with these families has really emphasized for me just how much pressure I’m feeling for things to be perfect and how embroiled in the comparison game I really am.

Being a babysitter has historically been one of the places I’ve felt the most at ease. Coming up with ideas for things to do, solving the minor problems, it was all pretty simple for me. I remember how easy it was to make them laugh or to come up with an idea for a craft or a game that would kill a lot of time. That creativity and assuredness came naturally, without too much fanfare. It was one of the things I felt like I was genuinely good at and meant to do.

The hard part now is that they’re getting older. This happened with my last family too. What works for a 7 and 8 year old does not meet the mark for a 10 and 11 year old. And that makes sense right? It’s a whole different developmental stage.

Of course, these kids still like to play pretend. They like to craft and throw water balloons and play tag. We go outside and draw with chalk or shoot baskets. Sometimes, anyway, they’re all about it.

But then other times we’ve run up against the thing I just can’t compete with: electronics.

When the girls were younger, all they had were these well-used ipods that allowed them to play a few games and ran out of allotted time super quickly. We rarely drifted to the electronic world, and usually if we did it was on a weekend to watch a movie. They didn’t ask, and they didn’t care.

Now? Electronic time is precious. It has to be scheduled into each day, the time I used to clean up from lunch and prep for the rest of the afternoon. They all have devices like phones and iPads. They play all of the hot button games.

It has turned them into children that I don’t always recognize. Kids that talk on and on about their trades or their new ultra rare item or their desired skin or their latest kill strategy. Half the time I just nod along, unable to keep up with all of it. I know some, but not enough to hold a real conversation about it. Plus, the topic changes daily.

And that’s the problem, it’s like I don’t speak their language anymore.

What used to be engaging to them doesn’t hold their attention in the same way it did. I can’t reach them in the same way or for as long.

Every day it’s like pulling teeth to get them off the electronics. Last week, I had to play the role of firm babysitter and deny H more time for her game, even though it meant she wouldn’t get enough points to earn the character she wanted to play. This never would have mattered before, but now she needed actual time to cool down and move past it because she was so affected.

So it’s hard. I don’t trust my own instincts anymore because I feel like they are slowly outgrowing me. Where ideas once popped up at lightning speed, I’m now constantly searching for things to do with them. I hesitate where I would have once suggested things because I’m not sure if we’re beyond that point in their childhood. And any time of adverse response feels like personal rejection, even if I know it’s not.

I’m not confident in myself anymore. I spend a lot of my days thinking If I could just come up with something to say… or If I could just come up with an idea… I put the pressure on myself to have all the answers, when I rarely have any at all.

Mostly, I let them lead the activities and then I try to provide the structure and guidance. They’re old enough that they’re not going to do what’s not interesting to them, so I figure might as well put them in control of what we do (within reason of course).

I still experience tastes of the relationships I know and love. S comes running to me every time she sees a bee, desperate for a hiding spot. H looks for hugs all day long. They get excited about the small moments in the day like a new stuffed animal or filling balloons in the pool. They’re still kids and they still love me, just like I do them.

I wonder sometimes if maybe I love them a little too much. I wonder if maybe I’ve put too much of myself into these relationships. These girls are very special to me and I’ve felt lucky to be a part of their life, but the more they grow up the more I feel myself slipping from their lives.

In all likelihood, this will be the last year I am there to watch them after school. I don’t reasonably see them needing me much beyond that. And while right now it’s nice to be connected, I can see down the road to what life looks like when they’re not there all the time. Quarantine was a good preview of that. I can imagine how it will be not to see them every day.

Part of me loves the relationship with them, but part of me knows it will not last in this capacity. Even if I stay in their lives, it will be very different. I kind of want to protect myself from the pain of that.

Who knows how much longer I really have that they’ll look at me in the way they do?

And it makes me feel dumb that this will affect me so much at all. It just feels like another example of me needing someone more than I need them (sound familiar my fellow therapy friends?), which reminders me of the areas in my life that I am lacking. What I’m missing socially that I’ve tried to fill with this babysitting role.

On top of all of that, I come up against this grief daily as I watch these kids live their lives. To see them experiencing vacations, family friendships with other children, and life in a family where emotions can be expressed more clearly, the ache of the childhood I’ll never have just becomes more persistent.

This is just another example to me right now of how something that should make me feel happy is super complicated and just magnifying all sorts of other unexpected emotions. I think it’s part of the reason I rarely feel like I’m in my window of tolerance these days.

Approaching the End

Last Monday, I texted J to let her know that I’d made a decision about speaking with her. I told her I’d prefer to speak by phone and asked if we could schedule a short time.

She obliged and we set up a time for later that day. Holding the feelings of anticipation going into that phone call put me in a state of panic. I tried to breathe and pushed my way through it until she finally called.

On the phone, I took a deep breath and asked her three things. 1. Could we please do two sessions instead of one? I’ll make that work, she said and I sighed in relief. 2. Could we wait until I finished school? The thought of trying to work from home and contain any feelings about session sounded unbearable. Sure, she told me. 3. Could she find some explanation for me about how we ended up here? Some type of reason that she felt comfortable divulging. I didn’t need every detail, I just needed something. I can do that, she agreed.

All three of my requests granted. I think it was brave of me to ask, especially over the phone, but it made more sense to me than texting and waiting for a response. Easier to clarify what I needed too.

It was so weird to hear her voice after not being able to speak to her in over six months, but also brought back all the feelings of being in the room with her. It was like this cruel taste of my safe relationship with the knowledge that it wouldn’t last.

I did ask her to clarify what she meant by being gone for the “foreseeable future.” She wavered, admitted she didn’t want to give me an answer that she couldn’t promise she’d adhere to. I asked her if she thought she might mean years of not practicing. She sighed I think I do.

Before I knew it, and despite my efforts not to, I was crying. We talked about me feeling my feelings. I said, more to assure her, that’d I’d be okay. I know you will, she told me and I felt a pang of anger, because really what does she know about me at this point?

The phone call was 10 minutes long and the second I was off with her, I began to sob. Just having that little bit of exposure awoke all the attachment pain and suddenly her absence felt like a gaping black hole.

So I did what I probably shouldn’t have and I called L. At this point, I had been texting L every single day looking for some form of reassurance (you’re still there? I’d ask hopefully, struggling to maintain the connection) or to seek comfort (I can’t stop thinking about her, I’d say, hoping she had some supportive words). I mean, how many people can you talk to about losing your therapist? It’s not a common kind of grief people understand.

I left her a voicemail that couldn’t be understood because I was crying. She did get back to me a little later and I spent an additional 20 minutes on the phone sobbing to her. There was nothing really she could do for me, it was just knowing that she was there and trying.

Every time I’ve apologized for needing her, she’s told me not to apologize. She’s told me she’s here for me. And again I’m so thankful that she has flexible boundaries and I haven’t had to deal with this on my own.

Dr. N has been supportive too. When I met with her on Wednesday, she seemed to genuinely feel bad for me. She offered me support and tried to lighten the mood. You’re 2 for 3 she said, meaning of my three pregnant providers, two have or will return. Of course, that remains to be seen with L, but she is so firm when she tells me she will come back that I almost believe her.

So my final sessions with J are on June 24 and July 1. After that, I may never see her again. I try to be hopeful that some day, maybe a few years from now, she will come back into my life. But I don’t really know.

L and I are working on getting me through that. Again, I’m stuck in limbo because the sessions haven’t happened yet and I can’t start to move on until they do.

We expect that on July 1, I may enter a crisis point for a little while again, and I know that I’ll be allowed that extra room to be needy. In fact, I’m finishing my session with J and driving right to a session with L. To be able to fall apart with someone around me who can empathize.

As I try to cope with this, the one thing I keep trying to tell myself is that maybe it will be for the best J and I are no longer working together. If you consider how much she impacts me, how angry she can make me or how easily she can bring me to tears, maybe it’s better to be with someone with whom I have attachment but not to the same level. Maybe that will interfere less.

Of course, I don’t truly believe that. I see the millions of reasons our relationship worked instead of the emotions that interfered. It’s just this funny little thing I try to trick myself into believing.

I want to be back with J, but that’s not going to happen. At least not anytime soon. The end is coming, whether I like it or not.

Thank God for Her

A little note of appreciation to my therapist L,

Thank you, for letting me text outside of session to reassurance me that you’re still here. Sometimes it’s hard for me to know for sure, even when I tell myself so.

Thank you for validating my anger about the way this whole situation is unfolding, for feeling it with me. You’re always quick to point out bullshit when it exists.

Thank you for normalizing my sadness and refusing to let me internalize the shame. You can appreciate just how difficult this is for me and you are constantly holding up a mirror to show me all the reasons why I need to be gentle with myself.

Thank you, for being there. A year and a half ago when I needed a second opinion. Six months ago when I needed a person to stand beside me when my regular safe person couldn’t. On Friday, as I processed the biggest curveball I could have imagined. Last night, as I cried on the phone to you with an absolute inability to see anything beyond darkness.

Even though I’m going through my worst fear realized right now, one of the only things that’s holding me together is knowing that I still have you. You’re so resolute that you’re not going anywhere (aside from those three months of maternity leave) and I’m determined to try to trust you.

I know you said that you’re “interchangeable” but I really don’t think that’s true. I don’t think anyone has exactly your brand of humor, insight, and warmth wrapped up into one person.

I’m glad that our relationship has developed in the way that it has, and that we have grown comfortable and familiar with one another. There isn’t anything I feel like I can’t tell you.

Sometimes I feel like I won’t survive this. But sometimes I do, and it’s because of you.

Waves of Emotion

Sometimes I’m okay. I really am. I’ll think for a minute that I can withstand this, that I don’t need her to be okay. These moments are fleeting but they do exist and I try so hard to acknowledge them in the time it appears.

I assume, and hope, that there will be more moments like this as time passes.

Sometimes I’m sad. So sad that it washes over my whole body like a tidal wave, knocks me right off my feet. In the sad moments I don’t want to do a damn thing. Like my routines. Last night I realized how much I was living my routine of meditation, journals, skin care, and bedtime rituals as a way to make her proud. It was something I’d be able to tell her look, look at the positive steps I took when she returned and we could admire it together.

Except now when I tell her, it hardly feels like it will matter.

Sometimes I’m worried. What must be going on in her life to make her suddenly terminate her lease and decide to stop practicing? She was a good therapist. Is it simply that she’d prefer to be a mom? Or is it something more sinister, like the health of her baby or some anxiety about living in this COVID-19 world?

I’ll likely never know, but I still ponder. I wonder if she’s okay.

Sometimes I’m angry. Angry in a way I can feel it in my body. She didn’t handle this right. She owed me more than I was given, or at least that’s what I believe. I could have received a phone call, been given some options, the opportunity to experience my feelings with her. I didn’t get any of that.

I’m not simply a loose end she has to tie up. I’m a person with thoughts and feelings. A person that I thought she cared about.

L thinks that just maybe, she cares too much, and that’s why she butchered this ending the way she did. It might have been why she’s been so ambiguous and used sentences like “I won’t say I’ll never return, but for now I’ll likely take a break from practicing for the foreseeable future.”

Just say it, you aren’t coming back! And yet, she couldn’t. Could it be because of so much care for me? Leading to lack of perspective. Fear of hurting me.

She did hurt me though, so much. It’s always been this way with us, when I think about it. I can remember other times where she’s straight up said to me, I didn’t mean to hurt you and I ended up doing just that.

It’s no excuse, but it does make me feel bad for her if that’s the case. I know she must feel guilty, that her tone in her conversation with L was imbued with guilt. I don’t like to think of her in any type of distress.

Regardless, if I have to learn to sit with my discomfort, then she should have to learn to sit with hers.

This is the biggest reminder to me that she’s human. Especially after last year, when I drunk-dialed her in the middle of a social crisis and then was left with the debris of that decision, feeling like she’d never mess up as badly as me.

Well…

I don’t think she knew what to do here and it showed.

Now I’m stuck in the phase of anticipation, trying to find the words to text her for what I want, waiting for the final session(s). I think the only reason I’m teetering on the edge of okay is because I still have that time with her.

Then there’s the knowing that after it, I may never see her again.

Part of me believes that down the road our paths will intersect. It’s that gut feeling, and I want to believe it. I don’t want this to be the end of our story; it feels premature. Even if that’s true, who knows how long it will be.

I need her to clarify what she means when she says “foreseeable future.” Is she thinking months? Years? Does she really just not know? How much will she be able to tell me without self-disclosing?

I won’t know until I’m sitting in front of that computer screen. Which, by the way, how unfair that I don’t even get to see her in person.

It feels to me right now like she’s looking forward to getting rid of me, even though she said she hoped that we’d be able to talk. I feel like I’ve been cast aside, some unimportant item with no value. I think I feel this way because she’s been so indirect. Like she was avoiding me.

It’s hard to draw on that positive evidence now, the way I might have been able to six months ago.

This was my worst fear realized. When J told me, the first thing I said to her was what if you don’t come back. That fear came true.

L says that when I survive this (when, not if) it’ll be proof that I can survive anything.

She’s been my saving grace in this mess. Available for me in various capacities, including text. I’ve already texted her a few times since I saw her on Friday, and I’ve been tempted to text much more than I have. My need for reassurance is all ramped up, it’s felt impossible to hold the connection with her.

And she’s responded, each time with warmth and patience. I’m so thankful for our flexible boundaries. I’m so thankful that I found L, already nearly two years ago, when I was looking for some type of answer about my relationship with J.

Who knew this is where things would end up.

Thank you everyone who commented on my last post; your kindness means more than I can say. I’m very grateful for this community, one of the only places I can go to talk about how painful it’s been to lose J. Most people just don’t understand the significance of the therapeutic relationship.

For now, I keep going on, through these waves, looking forward to when I can see L on Tuesday.

She’s Not Coming Back

So…exactly as the title says, I found out yesterday that J isn’t coming back. There’s no other way to say it but to just say it.

Let me tell you how this came about. Since we were a few days into June and I still hadn’t heard from her, I finally decided that I was going to text J to get an update. I figured it was better to just get my answer so I could try to make peace with it.

I had a little nagging fear in my head that she wasn’t coming back before I heard from her. Intuition maybe. I tried to ignore it, I tried to neutralize it. I was sure I was just assuming the worst. But there it sat, impenetrable.

She took a full 24 hours to answer me and then when she did, she dropped the bomb. Over text. Three and a half years we worked together and I didn’t even get a phone call. I bet she was just afraid of my reaction and wanted to put as much space in between us as possible. Strike one.

It wasn’t a very clear text either. She talked about how her “return was going to look much different than anticipated” and that she was only doing telehealth with clients once a month looking to “terminate in the short term.” I didn’t really understood what she meant. She also told me that she’d reached out to L the day before and hoped I was comfortable continuing my work with her.

She reached out to L before me, which put L in a tough situation by the way because we had been texting the night before (I was having an awful night) and she had to pretend she didn’t know after I flat out told her I texted J and got no response. Strike two.

And the only reason J even reached out to L at all was because I texted her first! I found out from this text exchange that she already terminated her lease for the office, so how long has she known this and hasn’t told me? Strike three.

I was so angry and so hurt to receive those messages. It felt like such a punch in the gut. I did everything I could over this break, I held up my end of the bargain. I wrote in my journal and crocheted my squares and crossed things off my break bucket list. All with the knowledge that if I put in the work, there would be the payoff of her coming back and I’d get to tell her all about it.

But, as L said, I’m getting robbed.

I don’t know exactly why she isn’t coming back, but if I had to guess it has something to do with the virus. Part of me wants to send her compassion for this, because I’m sure it’s been difficult living through a pandemic with a newborn. Who knows if they’ve all been healthy.

Still, she royally fucked up this one. She got scared and she took the coward’s way out.

So all I’ve been left with is the option to do one final telehealth session. A chance to “wrap up and catch up.” I’m going to ask her for a second session, because I feel it’s unfair to expect me to process all of my emotions in one session and be able to reflect positively on our relationship. I need more time to do that in order for us to end in the most successful way.

End. I still can’t believe I’m saying that. She’s really not going to be my therapist anymore.

I was talking to a friend yesterday and she agreed that what I was asking for wasn’t out of the realm of justified. L doesn’t think J is going to give me two sessions, but there’s only one way to find out. I’ll reach out to her early next week.

In the meantime, I was forced into a situation with L yesterday where I had to admit what I found out via her instagram over a month ago now. I had crossed a boundary and yes, I knew she was pregnant.

There was no way around telling her once we both knew J wasn’t coming back; I needed to be able to have my full range of emotions.

As it turns out, she was aware that her instagram wasn’t private and she was almost relieved I had found out the information without her having to tell me. With everything happening with J, she was nervous about it the right way to break the news without me completely melting down.

She’s taking three months and she’s promised me she’ll come back. She knows I’m terrified of history repeating itself and tried left, right, and sideways to assure me that while she’s excited to be a mom, she’s completely career-oriented as well.

I’m still scared, but I’m going to try and trust her. She hasn’t let me down so far.

The worst part is going to be having to start over with yet another therapist in that time that she’s gone. I already know that I’m going to try hard to keep my emotional distance, to try not to get attached. I have someone in mind I may ask about within the practice, but I’m not sure yet.

So this is it. This is really where I’m heading to. My therapist of 3+ years is no longer going to be practicing, which means I’m likely never going to see her again aside from a couple of teletherapy sessions. She’s not going to know about anything going on in my life; in fact, she has no idea about the person I’ve become in the last six months!

I thank God that I have such a good rapport with L. As much as this is going to be painful and difficult for me, I know that I can survive it as long as I have her. L insists that I’m not reliant on her the way I think I am, it’s just my attachment talking. Still, I know that her support means the world to me.

She’s my singular safe space now, my support person. Different than J, in some ways that are hard and in many that are refreshing. She’s who I have and I’m grateful for her.

This will be an adjustment for me, so please send me some positive thoughts as I grieve the loss of my therapist and adapt to this new normal. Thankfully, I’ve already had six months of practice.