Cold comfort


In the weeks since DS announced he is closing his therapy practice and moving to another country, I’ve been trying my best to keep things together. Like a mantra, I tell myself it will be okay after August and that this is for the best. My husband, family and friends have been very supportive and collectively tell me everything happens for a reason and I will get over it. It feels like there is this expectation that I should be over it now because they have said their kind words and allowed me to vent. The publicly acceptable gap for mourning is closing.

And yet the pain is so fresh. I don’t WANT to lose DS. I don’t WANT him to be so far away and very possibly never see him again.

When the lights are out and the night silence opens the space for terror and isolation, I cling to my cow Daisy for dear life and wish all the pain inside away. I try to find sleep in the fetal position and wedge Daisy’s head between my chin and shoulder. Sometimes, the softness against my bare skin seems to work and I find myself calming down. Other times, I lay curled in the dark with my racing thoughts and sleeping husband, at times wiggling closer to his warm skin for comfort and desperately wishing I could share in his utter surrender to the world around our bed.

If DS knew how much this was affecting me, I wonder whether he would think it’s all because of the transference and therefore not as valid or real? It’s real to me but I still question my own experiences and perception. It feels like his departure is more than just a re-activation of abandonment and safety fears from my childhood. I’ve connected with him on a very mature level. I will miss the relationship we built together, his listening and empathy skills, and especially the small bits of “non-therapist him” that shone through.

Our session on Wednesday was so disjointed and I feel like such a loser. I so desperately want to connect with him and enjoy our sessions while we still have them. But instead I just felt so sad. Having him in front of me was the most painful reminder of everything that I am going to be missing.

I saw blue wrapping paper, or what looked like it, in his bin as I was throwing my tissues away. For all I know, it could have been an envelope but I imagined another client giving DS a parting gift and I felt so excluded. Other clients are merrily sharing happy, intimate, nostalgic or healing moments with him, processing things, and here I am, weak and unable to connect.

It feels impossible to show myself compassion right now. Instead, all I hear is: you are pathetic.

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21 thoughts on “Cold comfort

  1. I’m so sorry. This must be such a punch in the gut. I hope he helps you process your feelings and you feel heard. Take the time you need to mourn. It’s a real loss, not just transference and you deserve to feel that loss. You are not pathetic at all. I would be devastated, too. *sending hugs if ok*

    • Jay says:

      Thanks for the hugs. Yeah, maybe you are right about this being a real loss, not an imagined one. He is very open to everything I’m feeling and hasn’t been defensive at all, which I suppose makes him a good therapist. What cuts me up inside is that I feel so alone in this, you know, like we’re busy discussing his departure (which involves both of us) and I am the only one who is suffering. Obviously people will say therapists are not being paid to bring their stuff into the the room. I just think it would make it so much easier to know it was not an easy decision for him and that he really does care. If that makes sense.

      • It makes complete sense. Your therapist seems like a great one, from what I have read. I’m not so sure you are the only one saddened by him leaving. It might not be as easy as it may look from the outside. I’m sure he has sorrow too. Therapists can really grow to care. It’s in a different way, because we come to depend on them so much. But they see us. They get inside of us. They see our souls. I’m sure (for good therapists) it’s not so easy to say goodbye. I think if you told him you feel alone in it, and told him you feel alone because you are the only one who is sad, he likely would let you know that he is sad in some ways too. It really is a real loss. You deserve to grieve. Just because he’s a professional doesn’t mean it’s not a very important relationship in your life. My therapist is pretty open and candid and will tell me what is going on inside him if I ask. It can be hard to ask, but I think it might be helpful for you. I’m sorry you are suffering. I can’t imagine how it must feel. Know you have support here, and keep writing. ❤

  2. 0sername says:

    You are not pathetic – far from it, I really think you’re strong. You must be, to be able to deal with such a massive upheaval sensibly enough to use that mantra, and even analyse your own reactions here. Having the remaining sessions when you know DS is going to leave must be impossible – I know that if Dr T announced the same thing, I’d need a clean break, not a slow, painful one. I don’t doubt that at least some of DS’s other patients are struggling like you are. That pain is real, and from my perspective, totally understandable.

    Hang on in there; I’m thinking of you x

    • Jay says:

      I hadn’t thought of it that way… That using mantras and analysing my reactions means I am strong. Interesting. Will have to process that a bit more. Realistically, I know his other clients must be just as torn up, if not worse. It just felt different in that moment. Thanks for understanding x

  3. Ellen says:

    I find it difficult to read this, because this is one of my worst fears come true – that suddenly, my T announces he is moving away. I am sorry it’s happened to you.

    IMO, there is no such thing as “just a re-activation of abandonment and safety fears” from childhood. Those fears are actually more huge, and more overwhelming, than any ‘present day’ type fears. If those feelings are triggered, it’s like a crisis – it’s a lot worse than if some friend decides to move away and you feel sad for a while.

    There is also no way that ‘transference’ feelings are not real or not valid. They are, again, more intense, and more painful than your every day feelings. They help make therapy powerful, but when it all goes wrong, as it has with him leaving, they are very hard to deal with.

    Do not beat yourself up. I’m sure this is a huge fear for most of us in attachment type therapies. I don’t even want to think about it myself. I’ll bet all his clients are also struggling with this.

    I also think, probably your one painful task in your remaining sessions, is to try and process some of your hurt, anger and sadness at this situation. You cannot continue as per usual as if this situation didn’t exist, and expect good results. Do not go easy on him – you are paying. He created this situation – let him deal with the fallout. Again, my opinion.

    You are not at all pathetic. You are feeling the way you are feeling for very good reasons.

    • Jay says:

      I want to print your comment and keep it close to me whenever the pain is intense. I feel so understood. Thank you. As I said to DS, his departure is not a surprise because I’ve been preparing it for it most of our time together. I have constantly feared he would leave me and he is, albeit with some warning. It’s out of my control. I’ve been in crisis mode for many, many months, trying to work out the therapy relationship with him and endlessly telling him all the ways I think he is going to abandon me, because I KNOW when things are changing. I think any kid who grew up having to be super-vigilant for changes in their relationships has this sixth sense,

      Anyway, yes, I will try not to soften how I feel in session and keep in mind that he created the situation.

  4. amandarocksyoursocks says:

    I totally know and understand where you’re coming from. As horrible as this situation is, please know that you’re not alone. *hugs*

    The feelings that you have are completely valid and I’d be surprised to find anyone who thought differently. Ending ANY therapy relationship is hard. Let DS know about your abandonment fears, etc. You’re not crazy for having these thoughts, trust me. 💜

    I just had my last session with my therapist at my university earlier this week, so all these feelings that you’re having really hit home for me. And the feeling of wanting to curl up in a fetal position and the multitude of feelings you have around the entire situation really represent how I feel at the moment.

    Hang in there. 💜

    • Jay says:

      My heart really went out to you when I read your post a few days ago. It was a bit to close to home to comment at the time. As sucky as it is, it is good to know there are people to speak with about this experience xx

  5. ❤ Sorry you are losing your therapist… that's always hard (even if you've done it abotu 18 times already…). Hope you can still process it with him. :hugs:

  6. S.G says:

    If you are pathetic, then so is every single person who is in therapy that would feel the exact same way as you. I am so sorry to hear he’s leaving. I wonder if the loneliness you feel in all of this could be helped by have a really open hearted talk with your therapist about how this is all feeling. It would give him the chance to be “in it” with you. And he would probably share his feelings of grief over it. He probably has feelings of grief and guilt. You’ve worked with him for a while haven’t you? I doubt very much he can have done that and not connected with you and to you and he will feel this loss too.
    This is a big thing, a big loss for you so theres no rush to feel better about it. You just have to let yourself go through the motions of it. People who haven’t been in therapy can’t understand how hard this is. x

    • Jay says:

      Thank you, I have been very honest with him about how I feel and it has helped. But he definitely hasn’t shared his personal feelings. He was teary-eyed when he announced the news and that’s probably one of the times I’ve felt closest to him. Oh, and he agreed with me in the last session that goodbyes are difficult. We’ve seen each other two years and I know in my heart that he must care. Just hurts to not have him vocalize it.

      • S.G says:

        I hope he recognises your need to have him vocalise his feelings. 2 years isn’t that long together but absolutely long enough for a bond to have formed and to make this so damn hard! My heart goes out to you x

  7. Tina says:

    Oh, sweetie. I would feel equally lost & sad. I’m sure my sadness & mourning would exceed what others felt was the expected norm. Ugh I feel for you. HUGs! and yes, I would also have read into my analysis of what I saw in the trash bin, too. Stupid transference:(

  8. You are not pathetic….so far from it. I think you are strong and brave. I have a hard rime imagining how this feels, but i think i would feel similar to you. Having a therapist leave is not something to just get over. It is something you are going to have to grieve and process. Its not easy, or quick. I think a lot of feelings will come up again, and again….like layers in an onion, you process on one level and move onto the next, but its not linear. I think it is brave of you to show up to sessions after he told you he was leaving; i would probably run, make sure i was the first to leave. Its couragous of you to show up and process him leaving. I don’t believe that everything you are feeling is “just” transference. It is real, the feelings are real. And as for your stuffed cow….i have a teddy bear i cuddle at night when i feel alone (if my 4 year old hasnt bear-knapped him!). You aren’t wrong to feel how you feel, and you are not pathtic. Sending hugs. Xx

    • Jay says:

      Thanks Alice! The onion metaphor is very apt. xx

      • It’s been a little while since you have posted anything, and I know there is a lot going on. I just wanted to let you know I’m sending you lots of supportive thoughts. And, judging from all the comments here, I am not the only one. 😊 I hope you are taking care. Xx

  9. Honey, you are the furthest thing from pathetic. Attachments are real. They affect us deeply. You have every right to grieve as long as necessary. I wish I had more comforting words than this. Take care of yourself, Jay. That is what is needed.

    • Jay says:

      Your words have brought some comfort. Thanks SFL. Feel so alone in this x

      • I just read this! I’ve been working on finishing our book and I got behind on reading other people’s blogs. I am SO sorry you are losing DS! No, you are not pathetic at all for having many intense feelings. As a long time therapist who had to close my practice, I can tell you it was very difficult to tell so many people, some of whom I knew would be devastated, that I was leaving. The fact that he had tears in his eyes tells you that he cares. I hope you are doing okay. Thinking of you. Hope you start writing again!!

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