This Is Embarrassing

The trouble with trying to write some truth is that I can’t always control which truth will come out.

I think it is one reason I’ve been having a lot of trouble with writing lately, especially with getting into a creative and noncritical flow. I’ve been afraid that if I open myself I’ll bleed out truths and feelings I would rather not think about.

What’s the truth I fear? What is that earth-shaking, unspeakable knowledge that I, Miss reveal-the-darkness-of-my-soul, don’t want known?

I miss my therapist.

That’s it? It’s not about my daughter, or my family, or my health?

I know it could be difficult to take it seriously, but the relationship I’ve had for many years defies explanation. It began when I was getting my counseling degree, and we were all required to do at least a year with a certain type of therapist as part of our experience. When the year was over, unique things had already begun to happen in the therapy. So I stayed.

Any description of what I’ve learned and felt would be inadequate, and I was extraordinarily privileged to be able to work with him for years. But the work between a therapist and client, no matter how deep, is subject to practical matters–a practitioner of this art is paid, and the best and most experienced ones don’t take insurance.

As financial troubles grew, I dropped my visits to every other week. With the crisis our last move brought on, even this was not possible. It’s been almost five months since we met.

So the problem is that I miss him. No, that’s not the largest problem. The problem is that I miss him and I’m ashamed of how much I miss him. And I feel like the old stereotype of the female patient overly attached to the male therapist. And I’m angry about it, and sad, and I don’t have anyone I can talk to about those feelings.

I’ve been trying to be tough and not cry wolf. I’ve tried very hard to act like a grownup, like a mom, like someone who is capable of putting other things ahead of her own comfort. All the while being afraid that if I do too good a job of pretending for too long, I’ll never be allowed to make going back a priority. (Well, you’re doing OK without it…)

I miss the person I get to be in that room.
I miss being able to look forward to being that person.
I miss the way an upcoming appointment would inspire me to finish an essay or poem or dream so that I could talk about it.

Of course, I also have all of the cliched, neurotic feelings of resentment toward my therapist about the situation, and all of the adolescent yearning for him to say “Fuck the clinical relationship, you’re so special that I can’t stand not having you in my life. Let’s just meet for coffee.”

Yes, this truth hurts. It hurts to know that, even if I can scrape together an occasional session, our work will probably never be the same again. It had already changed.

It’s changed since I got clean for the last time. How could it not?
It’s changed since our frequency dropped.
It’s changed since I started writing.
It’s changed since I started writing poetry.

It really could be that we were already nearing the end of an era, but I don’t want it to be a forced end. And I’m afraid I don’t have what it takes to create whatever I need to make not having this relationship okay.

So that’s it. I’m grieving, and angry, and lonely, and I hate that I can’t talk to anyone else about this because they think of therapy as mental bonbons for the weak or self-indulgent. They have no conception of why someone would find it so important and so central to their sense of self–or why someone could do it for years and not be “fixed.”

I have no solution to offer myself, but maybe telling the truth will help a little.

3 responses to “This Is Embarrassing

  1. I can see how it would affect you you get used to saying all the stuff that is not something you can tell anyone to easily and than they are gone. Especially one you liked so much. I’ve seen two therapists and the first was 10 years a year after I lost my mom and I just felt like she didn’t care It was just a job to her and the second time was a few years after and I went to him for 2 months but my workload got heavy and I just had to keep rescheduling and eventually just stopped trying to find the time but even him he listened yes but sometimes I just felt like I was being a pussy (excuse the french) and needed to suck it up.

  2. It may be horribly painful, but okay? Sometimes sitting with the uncomfortableness brings the learning we need. And it seems like you already got there – look at those amazing last 8 words of your blog. I’m going to remind myself of the wisdom there on a daily basis. Thank you

  3. I started therapy when I was a small child. I hated it and thought it was punishment. And I thought being different, and needing therapy, was in itself punishment by God, the Universe, maybe some damn piece of broccoli I didn’t give enough respect when I was 3. I was so ashamed of being in therapy that I was willing to do anything to avoid admitting it — better to be thought just a mean, terrible person than someone with something fundamentally wrong with themselves. Today people diagnosed with Autism (what would have been Asperger’s back in the day) are celebrated as heroes for what they can do, but for me, it was something not understood and so shameful.

    And then somewhere during college I stopped going to therapy. I mean, I thought, I had learned to cope, and learned to fix myself. And I drove myself to be as ‘normal’ as possible and to hide my issues, my ‘weakness,’ from everyone I met. And in most cases that meant, aside from a small core of people, finding new sets of friends when I blew up old sets of friends that had no idea and no understanding as to why I did what I did. Except for a few that I circled back to and managed to lash out at again, all without them knowing or understanding.

    It wasn’t until 2007 when my wife urged me into therapy and I met with someone that had extensive experience working with HFA that things began to change. When I learned “it’s okay to be different” and that if people knew of my “weakness” they wouldn’t view it as a negative but something that allowed them to understand me and not feel so…helpless.

    Recognizing that therapy helps make us better isn’t weakness. It’s truth that cannot be escaped without terrible consequences.

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