The end.

Dear K,

Thank you for your email although I am obviously disappointed that you’ve made the decision to end our work without knowing what is going on for me and where I am in my life now. I’ve really grown into working online this past year and have built strong relationships with a coach and another practitioner in this way. I made the decision to ask to return to online therapy with you after much reflection and feeling into what was right for me because I was as sure as I could be that it would be beneficial for me. I had hoped to be able to build upon some aspects of our work, while leaving behind the things I’ve moved on from this past year. I’ve known since the winter that our work would never be how it was before the pandemic and have processed this, as far as possible, as well as grieving the loss of that time (even though it was so traumatic and painful so much of the time) and the closeness we once had (whilst reflecting upon how far I’ve come as well of course, and how I am able to see myself through my own eyes now instead of always needing a mirror to make me feel real).

Of course I had doubts and was scared I might return to therapy with you to find that what we had wasn’t there anymore, but I reassured myself that we would find each other again because our relationship was strong and special and had endured so much. I had hoped that once you saw me again and understood how far I’ve come this year that any residual doubts about working with me online again would dissipate (and if not, at least then we would be able to go through a proper and gentle ending phase, as would befit the intense and profound work we did together). I have been moving forwards and integrating the healing I’ve done but there are parts of our work I have deeply missed and there are certain – pretty big and long-term – things I wanted to be able to talk through and work on with you, because you would understand what was going on for me around them in a way no one else does. I had hoped we could transition into something more focused on my adult life, but built upon the foundations of what we had and your knowledge of me and my history. I can hold so much for myself now but there are still times when I need help to untangle an overwhelming mess so that I can understand what is going on for me and why. I have not had this experience with any other professional; when I take an overwhelming mess to someone else, I come home with an overwhelming mess. And so I miss your skills as a therapist, and your knowing of me and all the threads that make up the tangled messes I get into, very much sometimes. To know I am losing that forever now is quite hard, especially because I left thinking it would be my choice whether or not to come back and with your reassurances that we had always made times work before and so we would make them work again. I know things change, and the pandemic brought changes that I wasn’t expecting for a good few years, but I still thought it would be a very long time till you were never in my life at all.

You once knew everything there was to know about me, K. You knew every part of me and every part has told you their story in one way or another. You walked beside me in the present for five years and you also journeyed back in time with me, so that in my memory it sometimes feels as though you were there with us in the past too. You hold my story the way a mum should and the person I am becoming is built upon the foundation of all the good things you poured into me for five whole years. Our relationship will forever be among the most magical and beautiful and sacred relationships of my life, paving the way for all that is still to come. To be offered one or two sessions to close our work, if I want them, after being so sure we were not ending last summer and reassuring me that ‘this isn’t how I do endings’ suggests that the depth of our therapeutic relationship or the intensity of the journey we undertook together is no longer present in your heart or mind. It is as though you have forgotten that this is me, CB, a person who you valued and cared for and worked endlessly to steady and show that safety is possible, that safety is safe. You were deeply invested in our work, I remember, and I’m sure you felt sad that a source of such deep connection and growth was cut off for me in the way it was last year, especially because after all that struggle and darkness I’d finally reached a place where I could really be in relationship with you and soak it up – relational healing, healing all the parts of me.

I remember you saying how grateful you were to be doing this work with me, that it was a privilege to know me, and that you thought what we had was rare in the psychotherapy world. Your emails this year have left me feeling that you have forgotten me and our time together and how important our work once was. It is for this reason I am concerned that it would not just be deeply painful for me if we were to have some ending sessions, which is a necessary pain I know, but that it would take away from me what we had and turn it into something else. I don’t want to risk confirming what I have sensed in your emails this year and to carry that into the future with me instead of the you, the us, that I remember. If I am to lose you from my future I don’t want to lose you from my past as well, or to lose the certainty I have carried inside me this past year, even when I felt as though you had forgotten, that our relationship was real and sacred and mattered to us both. I need this so that our work can continue to take root in me and so if you don’t hold what we were inside of you anymore then I am scared it will be taken from me too.

If I am mistaken in this and it is just that something has gotten lost in translation (and I hope more than anything that I am wrong of course, and that you still remember and have a place in your heart for me, for all of us) then I would be pleased to meet and reflect on our work together in some ending sessions. I only feel able to do this if we can do it in a way that doesn’t underplay its significance though, so that it is present, centre-stage, acknowledged as a powerful source of alchemy and transformation, recognised as a deep loss regardless of any growth that has come since. I do not want to leave feeling ashamed for how hard I know I will find it to say goodbye to you for the last time, despite how ‘fine’ I’ve been for so much of this past year, or for you to tell me how far I’ve come without you – I’ve only come this far because of our work and I always assumed I would be able to share my growth and discoveries from this year with you one day, and that we would then take down the things we put on the therapy shelf last August and carry on our work. I knew it would be different of course, but I also thought it would still be the same in many ways because you and me would still be there, and this always was the essence of our work even though I found that so hard to take in.

If you are open to embracing our work fully in the ending sessions then please let me know and, if so, I would like 3 sessions please, or at least the option of this many (which I don’t think is at all excessive, given the unusual circumstances – to be honest, when I have considered what would happen if you didn’t want to work with me again, I had in mind 6 ending sessions as the right amount to enable an element of re-connection before the very end). I can do pretty much any days and times for the next month or so (although earlier in the day so that I have time to process and centre before Nina arrives home from school would be preferable).

Either way, please could you post little yellow [soft toy], my copy of [book], the parts triangles we made together, and any other papers of mine that you have in your room (I think there are all the lists of funny times, cosy times, etc. and some posters and timelines as well). I have one of your books here so I will post that later this week. If you could find it in you to write something for Miffy when you post back our things then that would be much appreciated, but I understand you might not feel able to do this.

I look forward to hearing from you,

CB

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