Today I had my final session with my (now old) DBT therapist ‘E’. I have been slowly transitioning to my new therapist ‘J’ by cutting down sessions with E over the last 6 weeks or so, and today was our final one.
E hadn’t just been a typical therapist for me in terms of providing traditional therapeutic support – she had also been a great source of comfort and company for me during times of great loneliness and discombobulation upon returning to London. In fact, some of my most productive sessions had not even taken place within the confines of her office, but instead outside the therapy centre on leisurely walks we took together to soothe my various anxieties and provide me with a little respite. And she always seemed to intuitively know when this was exactly what I needed!
Today we did just that. Because I had to pick up the girls I nanny straight after therapy, I knew it wouldn’t be effective for me to say goodbye to E in the typical way I may otherwise have done: for me this would look like sitting in her office, wallowing in the pain of my sadness and grief, crying relentlessly and pouring out my gratitude and love to her – before heading off in Emotion Mind, distressed and dysregulated! So instead, we decided it would be a good idea to go on one of our walks together, soaking up some sun and making the most out of the last hour we had together. We walked to the nearest station, where we sat outside in the wamrth of the sun chatting informally and, for me at least, with vitality and presence. She bought me a drink which I felt incredibly touched by, as it was a very kind gesture which made me feel cared about and treated. I felt giggly and immature inside, as I often felt I had been with E, and felt myself dipping in and out of regressing to my child-like self, then back to adult, and child again. Overall I was beaming, because I was with her, feeling looked after, and youthful, and happy.
I gave E a handmade card, expressing my gratitude for all she has done for me, as well as the sadness I feel around having to move on from our relationship. I wanted her to know how much I appreciate her; her presence, non-judgement, authenticity, validation, humour and pro-activeness, especially during so many transitions and life changes I’ve gone through recently.
Being able to experience the time we had left together in an emotional but effective, balanced and mature way meant so much to me. It was also positively reinforcing and empowering to be given E’s time and consideration for having done well, as opposed to being ineffectively and unhealthily rewarded for my struggles like I may have been in the past. I was able to honour our goodbye and my feelings around the ending of our relationship, whilst simultaneously remaining effective by ensuring I maintained my Wise Mind state – in order to be in the best position I could be to pick up the girls from school and go about the rest of my day with them.
Sitting here writing this now, I am feeling overwhelmed with sadness again as the feelings flood back into my body, having been lying dormant during my time with the girls. Today has marked yet another goodbye, and yet another loss of somebody who has been unconditionally supportive and invaluable to me. I feel like over my life I have left behind me a trail of wonderfully special people who I have become immensely attached to and then had to sadly move on from. It hurts to be back in touch with a continued sense of incompleteness and grief having lost another little piece of my heart. It is certainly true that the root of much of my suffering has been through attachment. However I do acknowledge and validate just how difficult this entire process, and what it represents on a number of levels, is for me.
I am so lucky to have met E and been able to work with her even if it was only for a relatively short time. Even though it hurts to be leaving her and starting a(nother) new chapter of my recovery, I am immensely grateful for the fact that I was able to spend the time with her that I did. I would never trade in the pain that inevitably comes with the termination of a connection such as this one, if it were to mean losing the invaluable positive experiences, laughter, strength, holding and love I received during the many times in the relationship we did share.