The last time I saw Therapist 1.0, I was left with a question, something I couldn’t bring myself to ask, and that question has tormented me to one or extent or another for the last 8 months. It’s the exact position she hoped I wouldn’t find myself in, she said in that session that she didn’t want me to be left with any unanswered questions. I guess she knew (but of course) how hard I would find it to let go.

I don’t like to write about this. I’m utterly ashamed of how I’ve felt all these months. You see, I had created this little scenario in my head. The details are hazy (such as how such a situation could ever possibly come about) but I had myself convinced that at some point in the future we could be friends. I had created this whole persona for her based on………..what? What I saw in the therapy room, what I found out from sneaking about on facebook and google, and what I extrapolated from that. In short, most likely a person that is nothing like who she really is. I have had her on a pedestal for such a long time. I’ve never been able to see her as an actual real person, someone who is flawed, who struggles, who sometimes says the wrong thing, who gets frustrated with her husband and her kids. I know that I need to be able to see that, and I think some part of the misguided logic of wanting this mythical friendship was that it would allow me to see those things, and that in seeing, I could finally take her down from her pedestal.

The more I’ve done with Therapist 2.0, the more this has been on my mind. Lids are coming off boxes all over the place, and this is one of the bigger ones. I know there’s so much more to it than just wanting to be friends. There was the cycle of transference we had gotten caught up in at the end that I just couldn’t step away from or make sense of, that I’ve yet to make sense of. There was her kindness and compassion, something that I cannot do for myself and just felt so wonderful. Who wouldn’t want more of that? But of course, the real person behind the compassionate therapist mask couldn’t possibly be like this all the time. No one is. No one is perfect. It’s not fair to expect anyone to be anything other than human.

This is all coming to the fore now because I worked up the courage to ask Therapist 2.0 if it would be reasonable to contact 1.0 to get a final, definite answer to the friends question. She agreed it would be helpful if it meant I could move on, so yesterday, I contacted her. Needless to say the outcome wasn’t surprising. We cannot meet. We cannot be friends. It would be a massive ethical conflict for her, and would most likely do me no good. She wished me well, and that if we do ever cross paths, we can acknowledge each other if I’m comfortable with it, but that’s it. I’m sure I don’t need to describe my reaction. It is so far from what I wanted to hear, but if I’m being honest, pretty close to what I had expected. Imagine if therapists were to become friends with all their ex clients. Apart from anything else, how on earth would they have room for so many people in their lives?? How could they possibly be expected to manage such a complete shift in the relationship, knowing all that they know about their clients? How could they be themselves?

I know I’m not the first person in the world to want to be friends with an ex therapist, but I cannot begin to describe how utterly ashamed I am of this, how embarrassed I am. I want to regret ever meeting her as a therapist, because it means we can never be friends. But had I not met her as a therapist, chances are we never would have met at all. Had I not met her as a therapist, chances are I would be long gone. She facilitated such huge change in me. She brought me as far as she could, and then she had to let me go. She was the Woodsman of Hubby’s story for the longest time, helping me negotiate my way forward with the wolf, but she cannot take me any further. Therapist 2.0  has taken over, she has a more detailed map. Eventually the time will come when she has to let me find my own way too. Such is the nature of therapy.

I’m working really, really hard not to take this personally, not to take it as the massive, heartbreaking rejection it currently feels like. I’m so scared that I’ve frustrated her, disappointed her, that she’s thanking her lucky stars that she’s shut of me. I can’t bear to think that. She helped me change for the better, and I will always be grateful for that. Maybe I helped her change too, as a therapist. Maybe she isn’t frustrated by me, maybe she understands what this is all about. I hope she does, because the thought that she might regret ever having met me makes me sick to my stomach.

Yesterday I wanted to get rid of every single thing that I associate with her. Today? I realise I need those reminders, they show me how far I’ve come, and how I got here. I’m afraid to let myself feel the sadness that I know is there, that I’ve been trying to ignore for the last 8 months. I know I will have to feel it at some stage, because I can’t really let go until I do. What she did for me yesterday, despite how much it hurts, was her final act as Woodsman. I just hope that she remembers something good about me.

Thank you Irene. For everything.

 

 

This article has 3 Comments

  1. Try to let yourself experience the feelings to have to in a gentle way, in time, don’t force it – neither suppression or rumination will do you any good. Have just had to digest some unwelcome news about surgery I have to have done, was bursting into tears particularly with the people who I know actually really care about me and the fact that the outcome is in no way guaranteed to be positive – so I just withdrew, gorged on Netflix and the like, read books and cried now and then and somehow I’m now at a different stage in the grief / shock of it. I always just want to hug you, and tell you to stop being so so very hard on yourself (pot, kettle here !) I have a counsellor/therapist I feel very connected to, though not as dependent upon, and I really do feel we’d be very good friends but I too have to acknowledge that it’s never going to happen, but her high regard of me matters hugely and at my age and stage, I really shouldn’t need that validation. This self esteem thing is a tough nut to crack, but we’ll get there. I have such admiration for you, your work, how you just keep going, always trying and doing so very well. You do the most important thing Fi, you never, ever, give up, and that is what counts xo

  2. You have nothing to be ashamed of. We all want friendships with people whom we feel will compliment and enhance our lives. You’re human and kind. It hurts now, but I’ve every confidence that you will heal & find those qualities in yourself for yourself. Take care.

  3. I’ve been in a very similar situation with an ex-psychiatrist and am still healing from sadness and loss. Your candor in this post really let me reflect on my own situation. For that, I thank you. I hope that you grow from your experience, as I know you will, and will be able to move forward with Irene’s lessons at heart.

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