Goodbye DS

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My heart has not felt this much pain in a long time. My most wonderful, kind and helpful therapist DS is leaving. I am in shock.

He broke the news when I walked into our session on Wednesday night. I entered in the best mood he’s probably seen me in the last two years. We sat down and he said he had something big to share.

“I am going to be closing my practice in August and I am moving overseas for training and study opportunities.” (Or at least this is what I remember hearing. And it was probably said in a much gentler way). I felt like I was dreaming. Surely he couldn’t be leaving. Could this be another of my common abandonment dreams that I hadn’t yet woken from? There I sat on the couch, trying to process what he had just said. I was too shocked to cry immediately.

And then the emotions rose to the surface… joy, pride, sadness, despair, confusion and to a lesser degree, anger. The tears started pouring down my face as I opened up to him.

“I am so proud of you DS. What an amazing opportunity. Wow,” I said, meaning every single word. I felt like a proud parent. It was a courageous move to leave behind the familiar and his friends and family. At this, his eyes welled up and he broke out into a beautiful, genuine smile. I sensed this was extremely difficult for him and I told him I wouldn’t like to be the one to have to break the news to all his clients. It would suck to be in his position, knowing his move would hurt some people.

I had a ton of questions.

– Will you start a private practice over there? [yes]

– Are you taking your dog with? [yes]

– When do we begin termination? [when would you like to start, he asks. I tell him I honestly hadn’t thought about it and surely he knows more than I do]

And then the implications of the move hit me and I crumpled into my lap. We would have to say goodbye to each other. Not only was he leaving us but leaving the country too. He would be very far away, with no chance of bumping into him. He would be as good as dead. My whole body hurt at the realisation. It made me feel less alone that DS also seemed sad and had tears in his eyes.

How is possible to feel so happy for him and yet so sad and lost? Perhaps the adult and child part of me feel differently about this? I haven’t slept well since the news (just when sleep was getting better) and I find myself weeping at random moments of the day.

This sucks so bad.

Like it or not, DS is re-enacting what my dad did when I was four. My parents divorced, he left the house without much warning and I didn’t see him often after that. I need to find a way in the time we have left to re-frame this departure so it doesn’t scar me in future. I don’t know how but I remain optimistic.

I have to admit that a small part of me was relieved when DS told me he was leaving. It made me feel less crazy. I just KNEW something big was happening in his life and that he would be leaving. Call it intuition. I’ve felt that way for at least six months. Every time I shared my feeling that DS was going to leave, he acted surprised or calm. Either I sensed something before he did or he knew and was still deciding whether to move. My gut tells me he has been planning this for at least a  year. One doesn’t just decide on the spur of the moment to move your entire life to another country. My gut also tells me he is moving for love, and not just for his career. But I have absolutely no way of knowing this for sure. It’s just something I feel. I think growing up in a house where I was on alert all the time honed my super-sensory skills. I just wish I could call on those skills at will.

The next four months are going to be quite tough. All I know is that I don’t want to see another therapist after DS leaves. He was my first therapist and I honestly can’t imagine sharing that private space with anyone else. It would feel tainted.

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16 thoughts on “Goodbye DS

  1. You’re lucky to have so much time to wrap things up before he leaves. My first therapist was an intern, and I didn’t even get a total of four months with her. Of course, I knew from the beginning that she would be leaving, but I still got very attached to her and it was difficult to transition to someone new. It did work out though. I like my new therapist very much and we’ve made a lot of progress together. So don’t completely abandon the idea of finding someone new.

    • Jay says:

      It is very difficult to have to say goodbye to someone you are attached to, regardless of how long you have been seeing them or how little you know about them. I am glad it worked out for you and you have a new therapist you like. I am not completely closed off from the possibility of another therapist. I just do not think it will happen this year or next year. I anticipate I would perhaps think about seeing someone again if things got really bad. For now though, I have absolutely no space to trust a strange therapist who claims they will be there for me. Yes, there are no guarantees in life but the pain is still too fresh.

  2. I’m so sorry, Jay. I just don’t even know what to say, except im sorry, and i can only imagjne the hurt and feelings that have to be coming up. I hope that the next 4 months is good, and helpful and everything you need it to be. Xx

    • Jay says:

      Thank you Alice… I feel your kindness. I find myself weeping at some points, having angry thoughts at other points, feeling alone at night, being paranoid about my husband also deserting me… the emotions and thoughts vary within hours. But I am trying to accept whatever comes up instead of stuffing it down. Stuffing it down was a habit in the past and although it allowed me to cope, it eventually exploded. Not easy though.

  3. Sorry, I know how painful this can be. You impress with your responses when he announced his decision. I lacked such grace, and just froze.
    Life seems to be a series of comings and goings. Therapists, friends, real deaths… though that doesn’t help much.

    • Jay says:

      Your words DO help, so thank you. You are right. Nothing is ever set in stone and the people we love most eventually leave us, sometimes by death, sometimes abandonment, sometimes emotionally and other times, through departure for greener pastures.

      I am surprised I did not freeze, which is a perfectly acceptable way of dealing with shock if it helps you stay alive. As I said to DS, I was having a very good, strong day when he told me his decision. Plus, I was just very aware in that moment that what he was doing was extremely difficult for him and took courage. So I felt compelled to make him feel better in some way and try to re-frame his news. Even though I feel very sad and hurt now that I am apart.

  4. se4b says:

    The fact that you are able to feel genuinely happy for him, despite the hurt, speaks volumes about you. Also, the fact that you choose to still feel optimistic is a testament of your strength. Sorry that the next few months are going to be hard, all the best x

  5. Tina says:

    I cried when I read your post. I wept & my fear is that I drive my psychologist crazy & he will tire of me & want to drop me as a patient. They are supposed to be trained to handle almost anything, but I’m afraid that I’m that one patient that’s just too much too handle & he will kick me to the curb:( omg … HUGS!!

    • Jay says:

      Sorry that this post triggered those fears. I should have put a warning at the top. I think people with certain attachment histories would naturally feel like they might be too much for someone and that this could lead to a loss. That small, vulnerable child part of me wonders whether I had something to do with this decision and whether my cries to keep an evening session were too much for him to handle. The more realistic adult part of me (which has grown a lot stronger in therapy) knows that his decision has nothing to do with me and is based on his needs and experiences in life. I get it though that it is not easy to talk ourselves out of that place where abandonment feels impending. From your blog posts I have read so far, you seem to be handling the transference well. You also display a good level of self-reflection, which I think will hopefully be a tool to use in those moments where you feel you are the problem, rather than it being about the situation or those engrained fears that may have little basis in the present. xx

  6. 0sername says:

    Oh no oh no oh no. I am so sorry, this is the exact scenario that terrifies me with therapy. I don’t know how you coped so well at the time. *Hugs*

    • Jay says:

      It is the scenario that I have been dreaming and thinking about for nearly the whole time I have been seeing him. Sadly, that is par for the course for someone who has been abandoned in various ways in the past. Weirdly, I expected it to happen at some point and maybe that is why I was so calm… I have been preparing for this unannounced, jarring and extreme moment from the start. I am not quite sure where that leaves me though :-/

      • 0sername says:

        I keep thinking about this; like I said before, you’re living out what I expect to experience with my therapist at some point. I wish I had something helpful to say. I guess all I can say is that I relate to this, and I hope something positive can come of it.

  7. […] I read  Jay’s Post  about her therapist moving on & the feeling of abandonment.  OMG! I already feel […]

  8. Oh Jay I’m so sorry, I know how heartbreaking this is. How long have you been seeing him? Though as you’ve said, regardless of how long it’s been, it’s the strength of the attachment that causes the pain, whether that was formed over a very short period, or a much longer period. It’s wonderful that your love for him spilled out into words of support and encouragement for him, which clearly touched him. I think your question about the possibility of your adult and child parts responding differently, is probably spot on. I had exactly the same with my ex-therapist and even with my current therapist during breaks. The two parts feel completely differently – one accepts that my therapist needs to take holidays and has every right to, the other gets angry about it, feels rejected and doesn’t want her to leave. I used to insist to my therapist that it’s fine and of course I understand therapists take holidays. She said that the adult in me understands that, but that the child might feel differently – and she was absolutely right. I think it’s a little easier to deal with those two different sets of feelings, and the guilt over some of them, if you can think of those two sets of reactions as coming from different places.
    I know the grief that’s coming and all I can do is say that I wish I could spare you that but that I will be here and I will understand. I hadn’t really grieved before I lost my ex-therapist, but for some reason I was determined to let myself feel the grief of our ending – it seemed wrong to lock it away and not feel it, in the way I had with other losses. It felt like it wouldn’t honour her if I didn’t feel it in its fullness. I felt so guilty for grieving her loss – but good friends reassured me by saying I had every right to call it grief – that is what it was, and even though I still had those feelings at least it helped to know they were ‘legitimate’ and I could accept them.
    I know it seems impossible now, to think about another therapist after DS. And I completely understand the feeling that the space would be tainted by sharing it with someone else. But can you explore this with DS? Can you get his perspective on it? One of the things that made me enter therapy after Jane, was that it was her strong belief that I should be in long-term therapy, and I knew that what she wanted for me was to find another good therapeutic relationship. I’m not saying you will change your mind, but perhaps keep an open mind? Might it be helpful to have someone to help work through the grief? I know it sounds a bit strange to go into therapy to try and deal with losing a therapist, but it’s just the same, in my view, as going into therapy to deal with other forms of grief, and a therapist should understand that. In terms of another therapist, I will reply a bit more in response to your comment on my post, but in the meantime, I’m sending massive hugs and am just hoping it helps a little to know that I know how devastating and excruciating this feels….xx

    • Jay says:

      Your comment brought tears to my eyes… thank you for offering to be here for me and for all your wise words. Sorry I have taken so long to respond. I felt the need to withdraw from the world for a while and try make sense of everything. To answer your questions, I have been seeing DS two years next month and he saw me through a very difficult space. I had a lot of hope and anticipation pinned on the work I envisioned doing with him this year and beyond. But he has had his practice for around six years and I guess it’s understandable that he would want to move on and upwards. Thank you again xx

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