A letter from T

Yesterday, I received two envelopes in the mail from my T.  My heart froze and my stomach clenched when I saw them.  When I got up to the house, I opened the first one, and it was a letter from my T.  And I broke down as I was reading it.  I never expected her to reach out like that, although maybe she’s ethically obligated to do so.  I just expected to get an invoice for my last payment, which was in the second envelope.

I felt so many things as I read what she wrote.  I felt pain and grief over the loss of the relationship, anger with myself because it’s my fault, confusion as to why I chose to do this, even more confusion at recognizing that, for the most part, I do not want to go back, guilt over ending the way I did after 3 years.

She was the first person to listen to me, to accept everything I am and everything I have to say.  She has been a witness to my pain, she’s been with me through some of the toughest parts of my life.  When money got tight, she offered me a ridiculously low fee so that money didn’t have to be an issue.  She has done so much for me.  Part of me expected the letter to be angry, throwing in my face everything that she’s done for me over the past three years, asking if this is how I re-pay her.  I seem to be doing that to myself, though.  No, the letter was kind, understanding, and filled with the things that I’m sure she would have said in session if I’d given her the chance.

Here is the letter:

Dear K,

It has been very special having the opportunity to work with you over the last three years.  I care for you, and I respect you deeply.

At our last session last week, you announced that you wished to terminate therapy immediately.  I do wish we had one additional session in order to review our work together.

You said that you despair you may never reach the goals you have set, and I believe I understand that at times a journey may seem exceedingly daunting.  The slow pace of human growth and development is often frustrating for all of us.  Although you may discount my words, I wish to state on paper that no client I have ever had in nearly 30 years of practice has ever accomplished more in a similar stretch of time.

At your request, I will close your record for now. If you decide to return to therapy with me, I will reopen it.  If you wish to have referrals for other psychotherapists in the area, I will be happy to provide them.  We have discussed emergency resources on numerous occasions.  I trust you will avail yourself of those should you ever need them.

May you find a way to thrive in this interesting, difficult, horrible, beautiful world.

Sincerely,

T

After reading the letter, I figured out that part of the reason I ended so suddenly is because I couldn’t tolerate taking up more of her time and energy and care.  And since she never withdrew in all our time together, I finally decided that I had to leave, because I couldn’t tolerate her kindness anymore.  And it’s true.  The part of me that expected the letter to be angry is the same part of me that has always been waiting for the other shoe to drop – for the day when T decides she’s fed up with me and hates me.  And that day never came, so I had to leave.  And it’s even possible that I left the way I did just to try to get that reaction I was expecting – an angry reaction.

So it’s immeasurably painful, both in good and bad ways, that she has still remained kind.  I truly don’t understand how that could be.  I honestly cannot comprehend that level of kindness toward me.  It’s hard to tolerate.

I still don’t know that I want to go back.  I have an appointment with another T next week, although, financially, I don’t think I can afford therapy except for with my T at the more than generous rate she was offering me.

I don’t really know what to do with myself right now.  I’ve cried my eyes out nightly for the past several nights.  At this point, that’s all I see in the foreseeable future as well.  Work is keeping me beyond busy, though, which I suppose is good.  I almost wish I still had work to catch up on this weekend so I could go into the office and focus on something incredibly boring, tedious, and something that requires total concentration and no room for anything else.  Being in my head is painful right now.

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8 thoughts on “A letter from T

  1. Crikey, I just lost a lonnnnng comment. Let me try to recap:
    First, I so relate to the impulse to quit therapy sometimes. And I’ve been with mine 3 yrs, too, actually. But what I’m wondering is, what if you’d actually be better off “crying your eyes out” *with* your therapist you are trying to leave–rather than alone, or with some new therapist?
    Maybe the immense discomfort of staying where we are feeling unwanted and unlovable and pathetic and wrong…along with this person we keep trying to convince ourselves we cannot trust to be telling us the truth (because we’ve been lied to for so damn long by everyone else)….maybe THAT is what we are meant to do? Maybe this is about staying, in spite of it all? When I fantasize about ending my therapy (with my incredible therapist), there is some sense of needing to control. To be “first” in the leave-taking, so that I am not left again but rather am the one doing the leaving. The “I don’t really need you all that much, Lady” sort of maneuver. Not that she’d buy it. Not that I’d buy it. But sometimes, damn, it sure feels enticing to imagine just waltzing in there and saying, “You know, I think I’m kinda done.” Maybe it’s sadistic. Maybe I want to see if I can actually hurt her, because then *that* will prove that, yes, she was telling the truth, she CARES ABOUT ME.

    What’s the worst thing that could happen if you gave it some more time? What about one more session? And then, what if you left it open, as is she, to possibly being taken up again later?

    I think that her letter was really beyond kind. And I personally love that, of all the words she could have used, she emphasized that she “respects” you. That is golden. I am sure she knows you are struggling and unsure (we’re in therapy, after all), and I bet that no matter how finalized we like to try to make things in our attempt to gain a sense of control, that she’d still understand what is likely to be an ebb and flow of emotion and thought around your therapy with her, and what you want, and what you need.

    Be kind and gentle with yourself. This therapy shit is a pain in the ass, I know. 😉

  2. I just reread an earlier post and was reminded that your T is retiring. Did she suggest that, once retired, there would be zero contact between her and you/her other clients, if and when there was a desire to reconnect? Some therapists (particularly psychoanalysts) believe that “termination” should be in the classical sense, which is to say, that there be no more contact and that the last session is a final intersection, and a place for healthy closure for both parties. Others like to leave a door open for occasional interaction, or maybe even the occasional session–or phone session, at least. Do you know where your therapist stands on all of this? Did you say she is retiring in 6 mos?

  3. Hoping you’ll check in at some point soon. I know I don’t know you and just started following your blog but…would like to know you’re ok out there. Sounds like a very stressful time for you currently.

    1. Hi Sunflower,

      That’s so sweet of you to comment and check on me. I’m hanging in there. I still don’t quite know what to do, and I’m still in nearly immeasurable pain from all of this. I think T may still be nearly a year from retiring, I don’t know. When she told me in January, she said maybe a year, possibly year and a half, but that she doesn’t have a date set. But it’s the knowledge that it’s coming up that I can’t deal with. And now I know I’m not good with endings..

      I’m meeting with a new T on Wednesday. I feel like I’m betraying T. But I’m just going to see how it goes. Thanks again for your support. xx

      1. I’m glad you’re ok!! I’m still curious to the answers to some of my questions re: your T’s stance on if retiring means zero contact, whatsoever. (Classical termination) There is also a big difference between 6 mos., 12 mos. and 18 mos. HOWEVER, even with that having been said, I understand your fears on this, regardless of the precise amount of time–and in fact, I just made my T tell me whether she had *any* thoughts of retiring, whatsoever, at any time. She said she intended to practice perhaps another 15 yrs. So, it’s easy for me to say these things to you about maybe sticking with your current T…. I naturally don’t know what’s right for you on this one. You may find another T on Wed. (or some other day after, somewhere else) that actually feels like a good fit *and* who isn’t planning on leaving her practice anytime in the foreseeable future.
        What sucks, for me, is the realization over and over that, even with specific plans, nothing is ever guaranteed. My shrink could get into a car accident tomorrow (knock on wood) and I would in fact have to deal with the grieving process, in spite of all her plans to be around and available to me for 15 yrs….
        Also, I wanted to mention that I “get” your feeling that you’re “betraying” your T by going elsewhere. I recently fantasized about reaching out to the T I had while in high school (MANY yrs ago lol, but this T is still practicing in the area). I wondered if I’d have more immediate trust in her because she “knew we when….”: I honestly felt like i was considering “an affair” when I was pondering making the phone call! I didn’t call, and instead admitted to my T that I had “almost” executed this plan. For me, I think that was about escaping the discomfort I’m feeling with my T now, and knowing that I either should “go deep or go home.” I’m at the place where I can’t be superficial anymore and there is a bunch of shit waiting to be dealt with. At this point, it just feels overwhelming and pretty gross.

      2. Hi Sunflower,

        I have no idea what my T’s policy is regarding contact after termination. Honestly, I’m not sure I’d want to have contact with her anyway..not sure why. Probably because I feel like I’d be bothering her. I’ve seen her for 3 years but I’ve only ever called her maybe 4 times. I’d feel like I was overstepping my bounds if I had any contact with her after retiring. That’s just me, though.

        That’s great you had the conversation with your T regarding how much longer she’d practice. You’re right – we don’t know what could happen tomorrow. But it’s still nice to have some level of reassurance, isn’t it?

        The feeling of betrayal isn’t quite as profound after receiving T’s letter offering to give me referrals, although I know she’s supposed to offer that anyway. I’ve thought of sending a letter back to her explaining everything I’m figuring out as time goes on regarding why I chose to leave and why I did it the way I did (which doesn’t really have a sound, logical reason..). But I’m just going to wait for now and see how Wednesday goes.

        xx

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