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.