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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A Little Death – An Entry About Loss And Grief

I cried last night. Real tears. Connected to real emotions.
It happened while I was writing my journal.
And it’s been a while since I’ve allowed that to happen.

I went to see a possible therapist yesterday afternoon for the first time. I’d only spoken to her very briefly on the phone before meeting with her and I had a few fears and worries before going to the meeting. I’m not going to go into detail about that, because it’s sort of beside the point, but, I did see this person. Some of my preconceptions appeared to be valid (though, that is not to say that my fears were realised), but there was also something about this person that I did sort of like.

Still, I left the session feeling quite down. So, when I got home I got out my journal and started writing. And what I realised was that the reason I felt down wasn’t only because I had been talking a lot about my background [which can be pretty emotional], but because it kind of dawned to me what a hugetask it will be for me to start over again. Not just the actual therapy, but meeting with a new person on that very intimate level. It is enormously hard work, and very very draining.

I don’t trust people easily. Especially in a situation where I’m meant to give a lot of myself; where the stakes are high. So, I test people. A lot. I’ve done it with every single therapist and counsellor I’ve ever worked with.
And most have failed in one way or another.
Not on a professional level, but on the Deemed Trustworthy By Me scale.

You see, in my mind counselling and therapy is about meeting another person. Or, maybe that’s not quite what I mean.. It’s about allowing yourself to be met by another person. And that doesn’t just happen. And it certainly can’t happen unless you truly trust that other person.

So, starting over with a new therapist is a mountainous task for me. I went through all those different stages of testing with D. last year – something that was further complicated by the fact that for the better part of my counselling with her I wasn’t sure how many more times I’d be able to see her. But, in the end she did pass. Meaning that I felt able to actually let her in.

But then counselling came to an end.
Needless to say, having finally reached that stage of trust and respect, that was a pretty painful experience. Or would have been, had I been able to let myself really feel the pain.

Up until recently I’ve been quite busy, getting used to all the general changes in my life, finding my place within the community I am now living in and so on, and that has, I suppose, acted as something of a buffer for any real feelings I might have had regarding the end of counselling, [which, in effect, is also the end of my relationship with D.], but yesterday, having seen this new person, and realising on a different level that I won’t be seeing D. again, well, it brought on a whole range of emotions.

I guess the best way to put it is that, although it may seem horribly blown out of proportion to someone who doesn’t know me, the loss of this very important person in my life, it’s something like dealing with a death. The way I see it you pretty much go through the same stages of grieving, the same cycle of emotions. And last night it hit home in a big way. And I cried.

I’m not entirely sure why I’m writing this. Other than that for me writing is, and always has been, a way of making sense of what’s going on inside of me. It may well seem to other people that I am awarding this pseudo-loss too much significance. But, honestly, I don’t think I am. For me this is real. And it hurts.
And therefore it is valid.

xx