The End (?)

In my most recent session with my therapist, she and I decided that we would stop seeing each other after two more meetings. Logistics initiated this shift – my residency starts on June 30 and I will have far less free time then in my schedule for a weekly therapy session. The choice to end therapy, for now, feels quite emotional though, in large part because of how I have attended therapy for six of the past seven years.

I remember at one point in undergrad talking with one of my favorite mentors on the phone while sitting on the floor of a bathroom in the main campus library. My PTSD had raged then and my brain felt like someone had set it on fire on a pretty consistent basis. I think I had asked him some question along the lines of, “will I ever feel better?” He offered some reassurances and told me that some people with severe trauma histories go to therapy for their entire lives. Their entire lives? That sounds like… a lot, I thought to myself, though then I warmed up to the idea a little bit, because at least it sounded like a plan I could pursue.

After I stopped seeing my first long-term therapist L because of my move for grad school, I sensed that I still had more inner work to do. The notion of whether to seek out another therapist felt less like a question and more like a vibe that spoke for itself. When I moved to the DC area, I saw one nice yet boring therapist – he literally just sat there and nodded along to whatever I said – and then switched to a pretty awful therapist who spent a lot of time talking about himself while offering no helpful insights to me. Right around my 23rd birthday, I found my current therapist, a queer white woman (who I had mistaken as a woman of color at first because of her tan, oops). Now, as I contemplate my next steps, I feel healed and empowered enough to contemplate whether I want more therapy or not.

“You’ve worked really hard,” my therapist said to me at our most recent session. “You also face things. A lot of people hide when difficult things happen. You face them.”

This statement reminded me of a quote from Gail Caldwell’s memoir Let’s Take the Long Way Home, a memoir about her friendship with my favorite, now-deceased writer Caroline Knapp: “When [Caroline] was confronted with any emotional difficulty, however slight or major, her response was to approach rather than to flee. There she would stay until the matter was resolved, and the emotional aftermath was free of any hangover or recrimination.” Rereading this quote helped me honor and feel proud of myself for the effort I have invested – for eating and gaining weight and fueling my body to accomplish what I want to do with my life, for figuring out what I value and cherish in friendship despite society’s deprioritization of it, and for leaning into uncertainty. Of course I had the privilege of access to consistent therapy, and at the same time I took advantage of that privilege and committed myself to the process 100%.

On the note of embracing uncertainty: who knows if this termination will signify my end of therapy? I have always half-joked with my friends and therapists that I will need a therapist if I ever date a man, because any mistake he makes would remind me too much of my father. At this point though, I’m not sure if this catastrophe will manifest – I have sustained deep and intimate friendships, and I have many skills and self-insights to use if a man ever emerges who I feel worthy of me (and my [REDACTED]). Maybe I’ll never see a therapist again, or maybe something else will happen in my life that’ll prompt me to seek out a new therapist sooner than I thought. At this point I don’t know how the future will work out, though I do know in this present moment I’m feeling pretty fucking great. For now, that’s more than enough for me.

How have you felt when you ended things, whether therapy or something else? How do you care for yourself during transitions? General reactions to this post? Hope you are all well and until next time!

9 Comments

Filed under Personal

9 responses to “The End (?)

  1. Hey Thomas, glad your are feeling good at this moment.
    Ending things are painful but in the the end its worth it.

  2. Kartavya Ratate

    I am glad and proud to know about the progress you’ve made with your healing journey, and I appreciate your continued faith in therapy and your commitment to heal. Curious to see how things work out for you and the choices you make in the future. And yay for Thomas feeling empowered! Take care. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for this compassionate comment! We love a commitment to healing. I’m still so grateful that you read and reviewed Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth which motivated me to read that book and then the Lowland, both which have helped me reflect a lot on familial trauma, those who practice help-seeking and those who do not, and other related topics.

  3. I’ve always admired and respected your courage. I love that you share so openly about therapy. I didn’t realize it has been six years of therapy for you. You also opened my eyes that for people dealing with severe trauma, therapy can be a lifelong journey. I can’t imagine the costs for the patient if they don’t have health insurance or work place benefits to cover them.

    In my simplistic thinking, I thought therapy shouldn’t take that long. Another misconception shattered.

    I was talking to a friend who sees a therapist weekly or bi-weekly. He said it’s been very helpful. The way he describe his therapist is how I kinda envision you – providing a safe, non judgmental environment, gentle manners, active listener… yeah, I think that’s what you are like as a therapist.

    This is a milestone for you and I think you have a wonderful foundation of skills and experience. It’s rare for me to come across someone who says he is feeling fucking great. That thought brought a smile to me. Wishing you lots of happy thoughts and ice cream sundaes / milkshakes.

    • Aww so appreciate these kind words and I do hope that my blog can help destigmatize mental health treatment, especially for those with histories of childhood abuse and trauma! Yeah I’ve been so fortunate that both of my long-term therapists had sliding scale options which is definitely something I want to incorporate when I’m practicing more independently after finishing my PhD. I definitely wish that therapy and healthcare in general were more accessible I want to see what more I can do to support equitable access too.

      Haha aw yeah I think that’s how my clients/patients would describe me as a therapist! I definitely do not talk about myself as much (or pretty much at all) and I hold back all of my strikethrough comments lol. I am glad your friend has practiced help-seeking and I imagine you’re affirming toward his decision to do so. I hope your weekend is going well and looking forward to reading more of your thoughts in the future. (:

  4. You DO face things, and it’s something I greatly admire about you. You can always go back into therapy if and when you need it; I trust you to know if and when that is.

    • Awww and your encouragement and support over the years has only made it easier to face things. Having an older role model who’s done so for herself has been hopeful and helpful for me. Agreed about potentially seeking therapy in the future. (:

      • Thank you, that’s so lovely to read! I’ve just signed up for some online CBT to counter some rising anxiety I’ve been having. Apparently overseen by a therapist even though it’s a modular programme you work through – and i believe that, as I have to wait to join it, whereas if there was no human involve, they’d just send it to me to start!

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