My therapist has been away. It ended up just being one missed session, since we re-scheduled one. But it still had me really anxious. I didn’t tell A. this prior to her going away, because I just felt I was making too much of a big deal out of what really is kind of nothing.
Or at least that’s what I thought.
In her absence I had something of a penny-dropper. It wasn’t really so much that she’d be away for that one session, as the fact that I was gripped with this intense fear that she maynever come back.
I know, this makes no logic sense at all. Which is exactly why I found it so hard to share it with A; I simply felt stupid about the whole thing. But then, as I mentioned, the penny hit the bottom of the piggy bank, and it goes as follows: last summer, back when I was still seeing D., she went away on a holiday. Three whole weeks, no less. When she went away I was at a pretty good place, really – so I wasn’t all that worried, to be honest. I think D. had her worries, because she said something to the effect of “I don’t want to come back here and find that you’ve killed yourself” before we parted at the end of session, but I shrugged and thought to myself that, really, her going away isn’t that big a deal. Of course I knew I’d miss my sessions with her, but I really didn’t think it’d be that bad.
How wrong I was.
It was three hellish weeks, trying not to fall back to a pattern of self-harm and ideas of killing myself.
But I made it. Or so I thought.
The evening before I was finally going to get to see D. again someone called to say that something had happened and that she wouldn’t be back. And even worse, they didn’t know when or even if she’d be back.
Needless to say I spiralled downwards. It was really bad. I had been trying so hard to hold it together for those three weeks, not wanting to let D. down, and suddenly I hit a wall and just kind of cracked. So badly so that in the end I was admitted back into the women’s crisis centre where I had been staying earlier in the year.
I think I would have been ok about the extended absence, had it been a case of knowing how long it would be for. But that feeling of not even knowing if she’d be back, it really knocked me for ten, I’m telling you. Especially since, at that point, I had no idea what the reason for her not coming back was. For all I knew she could have had a terrible accident or be missing or any number of other horrible things that I really don’t want to think about even now.
So, back to the present. Remembering all of this stuff going on last year, suddenly it made sense to me why I felt so incredibly anxious about A. being away, even if it was just for that one session. In my mind, there was just no way of knowing that the same wouldn’t happen again, and so somewhere at the back of my mind, my brain was going into overdrive, thinking about the possibility of a repetition of the nightmare I went through last summer.
Now A. is back. I saw her today. She seemed ok, as far as I could tell. Only problem was that as we entered the room we have the sessions in I could see that she had her diary out. Needless to say alarm bells were going off like crazy in my head. And, yes, sure enough, it was time to look at annual leave. (Seriously, this should be renamed “annual leave-S-behind-in-a-potential-pit-of-darkness”).
A. is going away. First one session at the beginning of July. I can deal with that. But then, later, she’ll be away for four consecutive weeks. That’s eight sessions. In short: a bloody lifetime!
(And this is me at a place where I actually feel reasonably stable and optimistic).
My initial, if unexpressed, reaction was that “I can’t cope with that. I’m going to die. There is just no way a person can carry on breathing in and out for four whole weeks without being reminded of the importance of this by their therapist!”
Then, about three seconds later, having – again – experienced that gut-wrenchingly white-hot fear, I just switched off. From feeling like I was going to break down right then and there in the chair, to “Pffft! I don’t care. Whatever.”
Those two extremes. Again and again, on repeat. That’s what I’ve been doing since I came out of session.
A. did mention that she’d give me a number to someone I can contact if I feel I need to, but part of me feels just like a very needy child: “I don’t want some-bloody-else. I want you.” (Do we sense a tiny bit of transference…?)
I do realise that the reality of A. being away will probably lie somewhere in between my worst and my best case scenario, and I also know that a break in therapy can be incredibly fruitful as it often brings to surface feelings which may not naturally emerge within the safety of the therapeutic dyad. You can talkabout abandonment issues as much as you like, but it simply doesn’t compare to the power of re-experiencing it, and (hopefully) having a different outcome.
By the way, I’m not really blaiming D. for all of my separation anxiety. I’m well aware that this probably stems from long before D. even entered my world, going back to my mother, and before that my birth-mother. But, it feels damn good to be able to blame just the one person, so I’m sticking to that! Ha!
(Especially since I know that the person in question will be able to see it for what it is.) :)
Finally, before I let you go.. please allow me to repeat a joke that about 99% of you will have heard me pull before:
“I subscribe to Psychotherapy Today. I’ve got lots of issues.”
Sorry, couldn’t resist. I love that joke. Makes me chuckle every time.
Raspberries and sunshine,
PS. R, S and BTC – whichever of you is currently in possession of The Great Therapist Smiting Stick of Doom – swap it for my Mighty Magic Cloak of Denial? It’s been infused with extra-strength resistance potion. :þ
Kidding. You guys are the best! I love it that you have the same issues with all this as I do…… You’re no saner than me. Ha! Double-ha!