I sent the email in my last post to K on Monday afternoon. I’ve not heard back from her. She doesn’t work Thursdays or Fridays so I won’t hear till Monday at the earliest now. I actually think, though, that she will package up the things I asked her to send back and post them later this week with a card ‘wishing me well’ and telling me she is not able to do the ending sessions I have asked for (i.e. a celebration of our work that does justice to the depth of the attachment and the profound nature of the work we did together). She might give a reason (‘wouldn’t be appropriate after all this time’ or some such rubbish), or she might not. Either way it will be the very end.
Every so often I think I made a mistake setting out what I needed from the ending sessions instead of just accepting her offer and hoping that when she saw me again she would allow herself to remember me and open to what we were. But honestly if that didn’t happen and the last time I ever saw her was cold and detached then it would break my heart. I would rather not see her again if she is not in a place where she feels able to be warm and open to me. So, if she can’t give me the ending I need, or something close to it at least, then I am better off continuing to let her go as I have been – away from her.
My GP yesterday, who I saw in absolute crisis, said K needs to give me a proper ending ASAP and that she has a duty of care to ensure I am supported to transition to someone new since she can’t work with me anymore. It was validating to hear this and that she understood how hard this is for me. I could email K and ask for this, remind her that we need an ending even though it has been over a year and ask for recommendations of other therapists to continue our work with, but what is the point of seeing her after all this time if it is under duress and she is defensive and unreachable? I honestly don’t want our last interaction to be like that, when I have so many memories of us being so close and feeling so safe with her, loved and cosy and warm. It is hard to hold on to those memories but I know when these awful waves have subsided and I am able to process this loss – again – that I will be able to find them. I’m scared if I saw her and it was ‘weird emailing K’ on the screen that who we were would be ripped away from me too.
We could have had such a lovely ending. It would have been deeply painful of course, not least because our work was really not done when the pandemic struck, but it would have been real and heartfelt and worthy of our time together. If she had contacted me earlier this year when she first realised she was staying online we could have met to discuss whether we could carry on working and then, if not, we could have had a proper ending of at least 6 sessions. We could have reflected on our time together, talked about all the lovely things we did together, remembered how deeply painful the first few years of therapy were for me and how much it hurt me to take in her care and warmth, and then packaged up the things we left on the shelf in therapy last August in a way that would enable me to take them to a new therapist, if and when I chose to do that. Instead I’ve ended up here and it is baffling because she always said how important good endings were for me, with the attachment wounding I have and the profound abandonment I experienced as an infant. Years ago she told me she is ethically obliged to give me 6 months notice if she were to retire or close her practice, but that she would give me a year because of the depth of the work we were doing. Even last year, before the ‘break’ she reassured me this definitely wasn’t an ending – ‘this isn’t how I do endings’ she said. And she said even if I’d come to her and said I wanted to end, she’d have made me do 6 sessions because of how long we had worked together.
I can’t really see why that has changed now and, if anything, a longer ending would be more appropriate, to enable us to reconnect first. I don’t see why it is relevant that it has been over a year since we met. She must know I was expecting to work with her again and so the way she has told me, incrementally over the past 7 months, that our work is over is so hard to comprehend. It feels like she has turned into a different person. I really do hope she gets it together to give me what I need, but I am kind of accepting now that she likely won’t, or can’t.
I’m in kind of an okay place about it all again for now, just immensely tired and dissociated, which is a relief because the previous 48 hours were pretty fucking horrendous. Mostly I feel very angry that she has kept me waiting all this time without being clear – her vague emails in both March and July have meant I’ve been left waiting and wondering what to do for 7 months now. I have been trying to come to a decision that wasn’t even mine to make in the end. That stings. Especially as I decided to take a leap of faith and go back, knowing that to lose her from my life forever would be far worse than going back and finding out things were different. I tried to really feel into what was right for me and I contacted her knowing that leaving our work in the past really wasn’t right for me. I was prepared to take the risk of not being able to work online again, and so needing to end, in case it was actually okay and meant I could continue to get her support and guidance in the way I need.
She should have contacted me as soon as she made the decision not to return to in-person work really, so that we could talk through what this would mean to me and so I could be supported to move on if needed. At the very least she should have thought this through in March, which is when I emailed to ask when she would be going back to in-person work and she broke the news that she wasn’t – in the coldest way possible. I asked her then if this was the end and if I was supposed to pack up 5 years together by myself or if she was still expecting me to come back at some point, and she agreed that my idea of possibly returning to online therapy in the autumn was a good one. She said to let her know my thoughts over the summer. I did this, told her I wanted to, and she again was vague. And so here I am 7 months later, yet again struggling to contain an emotional storm of abandonment annihilation and adult grief over the loss of someone I’ve not seen for over 13 months. It all seems so stupid. Why didn’t she tell me sooner, when a proper ending may have been more ‘appropriate’? Why did she not take the time to think it through back in March instead of being weird and incomprehensible?
Her email to me on Monday was again ridiculous and so poorly written. It was vague around having ‘no appointments for you at this time‘ and then said ‘My work is online and we had agreed that this was not a helpful approach for you’ which is very unfair since 7 months ago I’d said I would be fine to do this. There is such a huge difference between finding online work difficult at the start of a pandemic when all you want is things to return to normal, and online work once you’ve accepted that is all there is on offer and are intending to make the best of it. She then said she was moving into more of a supervisory role in her work and so her ‘sense is that it may be helpful for you consider other therapists’. Again, vague – should I move to someone else or not? Then she went in with the ending talk and the penny dropped. She said…
Although we haven’t met for over a year there is the question of an ending if you may find that helpful. I don’t think that a long ending would be appropriate after all this time but do let me know if you’d like to consider one or two sessions for closure.
I was so tempted to tell her to screw her ‘one or two sessions’ and to point out that, had she made this decision and communicated it clearly 7 months ago, then a proper ending may have been ‘more appropriate’. I didn’t though. Instead I spent 4 hours in basically a freeze state crafting the email I ended up sending – open and heartfelt, authentic, mature, non-blaming, clear about my needs. As I sobbed on the phone to R in my car on Monday night I read him the email and he thought it was brilliant and that if anything could ‘crack her open’ and bring her back to herself/us so she could respond with warmth and we could have a proper ending, it would be my email. Well, it hasn’t so far…
I feel so sad it is ending like this because it didn’t need to at all. I have behaved impeccably this past year, with maturity and insight and self-awareness. I’ve not contacted her in crisis or allowed young parts to message her or challenged her decisions. I’ve been understanding and accepting and not raged at her or been passive aggressive or anything. I’ve not done anything to make myself undeserving of a proper ending. She has no need to try and protect herself from me. R says to hold onto this – that my understanding of the situation is accurate. We were on a break – she made that very clear at the time and she had every intention of carrying our work on. I deserved an explanation when this changed. I am right to be angry and confused over what has transpired.
I’m sure there will be more outpourings of grief over the coming days and weeks, but for now the storm has subsided and I know how to keep moving forward again. I never in a million years would have taken a break if I’d known that it would prevent me from going back – being able to return was the only reason I was able to make the decision to pause things and I feel so betrayed that this has been taken away – but this is where I am and this is what is happening. Things change, of course they do, but to not even feel the need to discuss with me what I should do after such a huge change feels like a betrayal of the profound and depth work we did.
I hope K manages to find me inside herself in the next few days, but I expect she is just going to package up the things of mine she still has and let me go forever. What an unexpected situation to be on and what a tragic and unnecessary way to end all that beautiful work we did together.