Tag Archives: loss

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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What do I do now? (and why does DS feel so far away)

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For the last few months, my colleagues and I have been dealing with a highly uncertain situation in which our company was considering closing down. There were meetings in which very little was actually said. Most of us went on holiday in December without knowing for sure whether we would have some form of job security in the New Year. The most horrible part was the rumours. People in the industry seemed to know more about what was going to happen than we did. It was humiliating.

We eventually had a staff meeting on Thursday. A few of my colleagues and I tuned in via conference call after a stressful two hour delay. Our boss confirmed that our company was being liquidated and would shut its doors at the end of next month. It was like a punch to the gut. My belly twisted and turned as I heard the fear and anger in my colleagues’ questions.

The last few days have been weird. I have only cried for a few minutes. This is highly unusual as its usually the first thing that happens to ease internal pressure. I’ve felt lost, sad, angry, confused, tired, numb and sick. I’ve had blurry nightmares where I wake up without remembering what happened but feeling horrible and tired. Last night, my eyes shot open at 3.30am and I couldn’t fall asleep again. I usually sleep pretty well. My husband has been amazing and I don’t think it would have been possible to get out of bed if it weren’t for him.

The retrenchment has brought up all sorts of issues and questions. I am extremely sensitive to changes in my life and threats to security (You may say: well that’s life…full of surprises! While I realise that, I can’t change my fundamental sensitivity. I can only hope to work with it rather than against it). I don’t want to be a burden to my husband by relying on him if I can’t find a job. I loved my job and it was a big part of my identity and sense of accomplishment in life. How do I find a job that offers the same challenge and is also in line with my ideals and ethics? I guess I will have to find out.

The timing of the retrenchment coincides with confusing feelings about the therapeutic relationship. DS and I had a really weird session a week ago. I drew quite a few parallels between the transference and not feeling I was “good enough” for my dad. There were moments of insight and clarity as we chatted but the session was also painful. I can’t really remember the whole hour. It feels as though someone took an eraser and haphazardly worked on parts of my memory. What I can recall is sitting at the end of our session, feeling very out of sorts. Things felt fuzzy and I sunk into his couch, staring up at the ceiling. My whole body felt tingly and I floated about. I think I remember DS asking me a few times about what I was feeling in my body. It took a lot of effort to answer him. I just wanted to escape into the fuzziness. It felt so relaxing and inviting. Not sure what it was. And then I snapped back into my body when I realised I was running past our time. I am always very conscientious about keeping to time. I felt disorientated but told DS I was “fine” and got up. He said he would see me next week and I walked slowly out of there, putting my hand on the door frame to steady myself.

That bodily experience has never happened to me in therapy and I felt vulnerable and confused afterwards. I desperately hoped DS would e-mail or text to check in and see whether I was okay. He didn’t. That, and the fact that he let me walk out of his office in that state, makes me feel like he doesn’t really care. Like it’s just an illusion. I know therapists sometimes don’t make contact in these types of instances because they want the client to know they have faith in their self-soothing and coping capabilities. But I feel more alienated now. I don’t feel stronger.

As if that weren’t confusing enough, he said he would not be able to meet with me for our session next week because he is away. It was me who noted it was after the Valentines weekend. I immediately assumed that he must be in a relationship and going away with the one he loves. Not good for the transference feelings, especially abandonment, pining, anger and loss.

I guess it just feels like I have to do this alone because he won’t really be here for me during this very stressful time. Yes, he may meet with me an hour a week but whose to know if it really means anything.

Everything must eventually pass and on some level, I know this will be an opportunity for growth. It just feels so overwhelming.

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Love, loss and longing

 

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Love, loss and longing have flitted in and out of my consciousness the last two weeks. Without my therapist DS (Deep Soul)’s presence, I have been a little boat on a deep body of water, trying to navigate emotions snapping like ravenous piranhas under my belly.

Love…

My husband was a welcoming dock. Warm lips and kind words lubricated my bow. I gratefully lost myself in him. It was a temporary reprieve from the somewhat inexplicable sadness and confusion kicked up in the therapy room.

At the same time, my spirits were lifted by the week-long visit of an old university friend who has been like a sister to me. She recently went through an extremely difficult time in which she was admitted to a psych ward with depression and anxiety. I slipped into a familiar caregiving role with ease and focused on her wellbeing with all my might. I wanted her to know how much she was loved and appreciated. We spoke for hours on end and I took off time from work to treat her and show her around. Most importantly, I was a container for all the emotions she struggled to handle. When she criticized herself, I questioned her beliefs behind the criticism and softened the blow. When frustration threatened to crack her apart, I stood patiently beside her and held her hand. I took in all her sadness and despair and reflected love and acceptance back. I did this because she needed me. And this is the care I would have wanted from someone had I been in a dark pit with no way out. Perhaps mirroring a therapist’s containing care was unsustainable but I think the holiday did her a world of good and it offered an escape for me.

I also leaned in to our upstairs neighbour, her husband and their adorable 11-month-old son. We have recently became close and I’ve developed a strong bond with their boy, who lights up with a smile and holds out his tiny hands every time he sees me. The friendship has been a welcome breath of fresh air for both of us. You see, my neighbour has a busy and sometimes lonely schedule as a famous pop singer.

Loss…

Just as soon as our house was bustling and full of life, it emptied out. My husband left early this morning for a week-long business trip. A few hours later, I hugged my friend goodbye and watched as she left for back home. An empty house. The smell of the pancakes my friend made for a farewell dinner lingered in the air. I caught a whiff of my husband’s shampoo on our bedsheets.

Upstairs, I could hear my neighbour and her family packing for a month-long music tour overseas. They would be leaving before nightfall. Next door, I heard the sound of people packing up boxes and moving furniture out. It was the family of our elderly German neighbour who had come to move him into a retirement home. They painted over the oil splatters and smoke stains of a lonely man. They replaced the smell of neglect with the smell of paint and disinfectant.

The ache of loss dragged my stomach down.

Longing…

I long to be okay with everything I am feeling. I long to understand why I sometimes feel so unworthy and damaged. Why do I feel like the love and happiness I receive will just as surely be taken away from me if I enjoy it and attach to it too much? Why am I so hyper-vigilant about possible abandonment and perceived alienation? I wish I knew.

The week stretches before me. I am scared. But I also see a time to sit. To contemplate. To feel everything. Life is bittersweet and the universe has thrown me a bone to keep the scales in balance.

I saw DS again tonight after a series of interrupted sessions. I was not quite sure what to expect after our tempestuous session last time. The session helped sooth me a bit and prepare for the week and our future sessions. As always, my dream last week spoke louder than words:

I used a magical machine that gave me the option to warp to different places. I pressed a button and it warped me to a house on a hill in a posh housing estate. I was invisible because the machine had put an invisibility cloak over me. From the patio, I could see a pool as well as the rolling countryside over the high walls and electric fencing. I guessed this was either DS’s house or his family’s house. I stood at the bottom of the house and saw a family on a higher patio playing around and joking with each other at the table. They all had curly hair like DS, some brown like him and some blonde like me. I desperately sought DS because I needed to speak to him. I couldn’t find him and guessed he must have been inside a bedroom because he was sick. There was no way for me to get past the family because then I would have become visible. I had an aching sense of loneliness and separation looking at the family scene. There was an ornamental metal hippo sculpture next to me. I patted and stroked it lovingly while lost in thought and unsure of where to go next.

And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation (and reunion, I would add)… The Prophet by Kahil Gibran.

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