Surviving An Ending: Starting Over

Finishing with A. was always going to be immensely painful and would inevitably leave me with a whole host of scary feelings, and nowhere to put them. So, in a bid to keep myself from harm’s way I decided to give myself a time-out immediately after The Ending.

Chickening out of allowing any kind of time or space for those Scary Feelings to rear their ugly heads, I made sure to book a seat on the first morning flight available after The Ending – and – looking back, I think that was a wise choice, indeed; getting through even just an afternoon and evening after my final session with A. was a momentous task, and didn’t feel like something I could have coped with safely for any length of time at all, to be perfectly honest. Far safer to spend time with sisters and nephews and brothers-in-law, all of whom provide sufficient distraction, and help me find some balance between being hit at full force by the painful loss of my relationship with A. and shutting down altogether. In short, I made a conscious choice to be around people who I knew I would feel OK to not be OK around, if that makes sense.

But, now I’m back. And – fearing that reality is about to strike – I have purposely thrown myself into all things Olympic in order to buy myself some more time and shelter myself from the whirlwind of emotion which is sure to soon come sweeping across my soul.

*

I had my first two sessions with The New Therapist this week, and that was both absolutely emotionally draining and a huge relief. The New Therapist – who I have decided to call P. [as that was the letter that immediately came to me the very first time I met her, at the initial consultation], is very different to A. Although she is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, just as A. is, she is also attachment-based. And that is a whole new ballgame for me. It’s all very relational, very direct and very open. Even at our first meeting I noticed that she actively wants to make eye-contact with me, and seeks to engage in a completely different way. And that will take some getting used to. As much as I have often found myself frustrated with what I have experienced as a certain lack of closeness or intimacy with A., now that it is being served to me in this way, it is quite a scary thing, because in that slight distance between A. and I, there was also safety: for better or for worse I could opt to hide in that space if I needed to, and I have a feeling that is something that will be a whole lot harder to do with P. There is something about this open invitation to attach that leaves me feeling vulnerable and somewhat exposed. And allowing myself to enter into a relationship in that way feels strange and more than just a little scary.

I will say that, instinctively, I rather like P., and I think that – once I get more used to this new way of relating to The Therapist, this could be quite fruitful. But, at the same time, I do have a lot of ambivalence: I find myself going back and forth between ‘Go on, dare to trust. Everything you have seen of P. so far points towards you being in safe hands. Try to not hold back so much’ and ‘Don’t do it. Don’t let her in. You’ve been wrong about people in the past, and ultimately you’ll be let down, and you’ll end up being hurt’.

*

As I am writing this post, I suddenly feel very aware that with every difference I note between A. and P., the realisation that I won’t be seeing A. anymore knocks on the door – makes my eyes tear up – and I am also struck by the feeling that I am somehow being disloyal to A. in writing about anything even remotely hopeful about P.  Almost as if I am cheating on her with another therapist. I remember feeling something very similar when I started seeing A., having learnt so much from my work with D., and worrying that in one way or another moving on to a new therapist meant that I didn’t value what D. had offered or the hard work she had done with me. I know that these feelings will eventually subside, and I also know that in some ways I had outgrown A. – or perhaps we had both outgrown our relationship – and the time to part ways had come. But for now, each reminder that things have come to an end in my relationship with A. hurts. Because I really miss her.

I suppose that in a way, ending with A. – and the fact that I really won’t be seeing her again – is a bit like dealing with a death, and I suspect that over the next several months I will be going through all the different stages of grief.

But, hopefully, I won’t be doing it on my own.

xx

Ps. To those of you who know about my trip to Sweden: I know that I am missing out two absolutely massive things about my time there, both of which deserve some proper analysing; I will return to those things in a later post, but for now, I am choosing to leave it out. *hangs the STILL PROCESSING sign on the door*

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12 responses

  1. You are being so brave.

    It is absolutely a grieving process – in fact, when I prepared for my ending with my T2, we prepared for it as if it were a death. The impact it has – someone important is there, then they are not – is absolutely identical. Obviously death is harder in other ways but I actually find death easier, because there isn’t a life happening somewhere without me in it.

    I look forward to reading of your healing journey as you start with a new therapist. Attachment is scary and painful but my attachment to my therapist is saving my life. Keep being brave :)

    X

  2. Thank you so much. I’m not feeling all that brave, but I suppose bravery and courage are qualities we generally find easier to see in others than in ourselves.

    I understand exactly what you mean about “a life happening without me in it”. It’s a great way of putting it. I was thinking exactly that, while I was writing that I am really missing A. That meanwhile her life goes on with her man and her kid and her 350 million other clients who are all now far more central to her than I will ever be.. How can that not be excruciatingly painful? I really wish A. had helped me prepare for The Ending in the way your T2 did. But there is nothing to do about it now. Hopefully P. will turn out to be the right person to help me get over that ‘let down’..

    Once again, thanks for following my blog. Never ceases to amaze me how people who have never met me can be interested in hearing about lil ol’ me.

    Take good care of yourself.
    xx

  3. I regularly think about your blog and what you’re up to. It was your blog that got me into blogging, in fact, so you’re always high in my mind when I check my reader!!

    Please feel free to look at my posts from when T2 and I prepared for the ending – I was exceptionally lucky in that T2 had previously been a child bereavement counsellor (as in, counselled the children, not the children dying) which meant we just got super, super lucky. I did write up a big post on all the grief theory we talked about, and I’m more than happy to run through it with you if it would help. It’s no magic cure, I still cry over T2 and it’s months since I left her now, but it may help you see the process for what it is.

    Acknowledging how heart shatteringly painful it is is an absolutely vital part of the process I think. Endings are meant to be hard – it shows we care.

    Her current clients will be more central to her diary from now onwards, yes – but I can absolutely guarantee that she won’t forget you and the importance you meant to her. I teach 25 children every year, and every year there is a new set – and yet, despite them moving on and me having a new class with new challenges every year, all those children still flit across my mind occasionally – usually when something reminds me. I really feel we lack a word in the English language for the love we feel for a client or pupil – there is something entirely unique about that relationship, but it is there and it is so very, very powerful. You are feeling it, A is definitely feeling it, and you will feel it again. Promise.

    Always here x

  4. It is a relief to find that you are listening to yourself in a way that allows you to be taking care of yourself in the way you need to. I agree with plf1990–you are being so very brave! So happy that you have an immediately positive feeling about The New Therapist. Sounds promising. Especially the part about her being attachment oriented. Sending you big hugs!

  5. Thanks, hun.

    I really hope that the attachment approach will prove helpful. Also seemed like a reasonable add-on to the psychoanalytic thinking, considering that I was adopted and as a result attachment issues abound.
    But for now it’s one step at the time.

    xx

  6. Jag förstår din känsla av “otrohet” men ni gjorde slut i samråd, även om jag tycker att A tog beslutet.
    Håll i din känsla och “tillits testa” P snabbast möjligt så du kan/vet om du kan lita på henne.
    Kram (Tentan kändes bra, tror jag klarade den).
    Ninisen

  7. Hej vännen,

    Massa olika känslor som flyter omkring angående A. och hur avslutet kom till och blev av.. Växlar ständigt.

    Känns bra med P. och jag hoppas att jag ska ‘våga’ även om allt känns nytt och ovant och rätt skrämmande just nu.

    Vad bra att magkänslan efter tentan känns positiv. Håller tummarna för dig. Fast det behövs säkert inte.

    Kram kram,

    xx

  8. One way I have sometimes thought of therapy (from my point of view as a clinical psychologist) is that it can give the patient the opportunity to have a good relationship after many that were just the opposite. In that sense, it is a bridge to what is best in life, starting in a safe place, and eventually crossing that bridge to bring the patient to other, better experiences in the real world. Best of luck in this process.

  9. I was relieved to read your latest post – to know you did a sensible thing to take yourself away and to be among those who you can be yourself with.
    Stand back and realise you are bravery and courage in action. I cannot imagine not seeing my therapist and my mind doesn’t allow me to contemplate that it will ever happen.
    I look forward to hearing more about your attachment based therapist and how you get on.
    Best wishes.

  10. Hey there,
    Thanks for your very kind word of encouragement.
    They are much appreciated.
    I’m getting into the swing of it with my new therapist, and ‘though it’s scary, I think this may be the way forward for me.

    All the very best,
    xx

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