I broke up with my therapist recently. That sounds a bit dramatic. What I mean is that I ended a formal relationship with a talk therapist I’d been seeing fairly regularly over the past few years. And, like all break-ups – even the ones that you know need to happen – I felt incredibly sad afterwards.
Therapy’s Not for Everyone
I used to be really surprised when people I was close to would admit that they’d never been to a therapist. Or that they had come to the conclusion, without ever having tried it, that “therapy was just not for them.”
Really? I would wonder to myself. How do you make sense of this giant, unscripted blob of feeling and experience we call life?
While I still think most people could benefit from doing therapy at some point in their lives, I don’t judge anymore. I now see that some people really don’t need to analyze themselves endlessly because, as a friend and I like to quip, “their mothers loved them.”
Which is to say that some people have so much security and self-understanding that even when they face adversity, they are able to weather such storms on their own.
Maybe they consult with family or friends. Or perhaps they turn to some other form of support, such as mindfulness or acting classes or exercise. (I’ve done all three.)
Therapy as a Well
I’m not one of those people. But I did feel that it was time to cut the apron strings with this particular therapist. It had nothing to do with the quality of the service provided. She was incredibly insightful – always coming to our sessions with a new take on old problems.
And – bonus! – she was also French. Which meant that when I wasn’t listening to her advice, I was ogling her accessories and thinking that I really needed to wear more scarves…
My basic view on therapy is that it’s a bit like a well. There are times in your life when you’ll need to crank that bucket of water up fairly regularly for a drink. And there are other times when just a sip can last you a long time.
So why did I leave? Part of it was money. I’m just starting a new business, so I couldn’t really afford to have so much money flowing out of my checking account without a lot more coming in.
But mostly, it was that I felt like I’d made a lot of progress on a whole host of fronts – personal and professional – over the past year. So, I feel I could trust in myself to use some of the insights I’d gleaned from her – along with some of the tools listed above – to manage on my own for now.
Which doesn’t mean I’ve arrived anywhere. I used to imagine that there was this magical place in adulthood where the sun came out and you could skip through the puddles and no more clouds would appear on the horizon. Ever.
Spoiler alert: it’s not so. And more to the point, therapy is not about arrival. It’s about accepting that the journey really is forever.
Saying Good-Bye Is Good for You
The tell-tale sign that I’d made the right decision? Right after I announced to my therapist that I’d be departing, I had a dream that I was late for a plane and didn’t mind. It was the first dream in my life involving travel where I didn’t feel completely lost and anxious. (Thank you, sub-conscious!)
Which doesn’t mean there isn’t some sadness that comes with the bargain. I hate good-byes. For goodness sake, I well up when I hear “Puff the Magic Dragon” because it conjures up such raw feelings of loss.
In all honesty, a big part of me just wanted to send my therapist a text and call it quits so as to avoid the drama and pain of separation.
She was having none of it. Like any good therapist, she knew that you can’t run away from those feelings. You need to acknowledge the sadness of letting someone close to you go and wish each other well.
What do you think about therapy? Do you see a therapist regularly? What can therapy do for you that you can’t do for yourself? Please join the conversation and share your view points and stories.