It can take a little while to find the right therapist. But once you do, you begin to build a relationship like no other. You tell this person your deepest, darkest secrets, and you trust them to an infinite degree to keep those things private and safe, and not to reject you.
For me, it turned out to be particularly important to have a male therapist. The approach he took with me was a compassionate one and it felt amazing to have a male “in my life” who wasn’t going to harm me physically or mentally, or reject me, or abandon me, shame me, or betray me, or any of those things that the men I had in my life had been doing.
As the relationship develops you may begin to experience some transference (the redirection of feelings for a significant person to your therapist). For example, at one brief point I began to wonder whether I had romantic feelings for my therapist (since a normal, stable relationship was so lacking in my life) and then I began to wish that he was my dad. This stuff can be really confusing but the best bet to understand it is always to talk to your therapist about your feelings. Because it’s totally normal, and they will know how to respond.
Then, after working through the transference, before I knew it, I’d been sobbing my way through Saturday mornings for nearly FIVE years. Much of that time I have no recollection of, because of the heavy medication I’ve been on and also because of the PTSD. And that’s kind of scary. What did I say? What did he say? What did I learn? How did I cope? Was I a wreck? But somehow he’s worked his magic and now I’m through almost everything life has thrown at me.
So now, it’s time to spend my Saturday mornings doing something a little more light-hearted and enjoyable. Time to start living life!
I was ecstatic when I made the decision with my psychiatrist and therapist to stop doing therapy. I felt like I’d made so much progress, was well on my way to being “better” and I generally had a lot of hope for the future – for the first time in a long time.
But the day after I last saw my doctor and my therapist and made that decision, I crashed. Sobbing at the kitchen table, sobbing in the bathroom, sobbing in bed. It seems as though when I’m doing well there’s always some weird karma that has to follow it up with a low. But I don’t think that was it. The truth was: I was afraid. How will I cope on my own? What will I do with my thoughts and symptoms? Who on earth in my life can rival or replace the relationship I have with my therapist? And that last one is a very personal thought – but it feels like an important one to share for many reasons.
Your relationship with your therapist can be like a practice run for “real life”. You can play out your best dreams and your worst fears with them, and never feel rejected or laughed at or belittled or ashamed, never get any negative feedback. And that is unusual in “real life”. Usually we go through life trying to please others – but you don’t have to please your therapist (unless you’re me, and that is a whole different issue). Usually, too, we go through life only partly being true to ourselves, concealing the negative aspects of ourselves or our lives. But with a therapist, the whole point is to examine those parts of ourselves, again within a no-shame environment. I could go on, but the point is that our therapists become figures to us of important people in our lives and they also provide us with loads of validation, so it feel good talking with them.
Once the day was over and I’d finished all my crying, I began to think differently about everything, Every time I go in and sit on that chair, it reinforces the idea that I’m not well. It undermines my strength. I’m an incredible, strong woman. I don’t need a man in a chair to tell me everything’s going to be okay. I can tell that to myself now, and believe it (most of the time). I’m not ashamed to reveal my difficulties, and I can have difficult conversations with friends and family. I’m a more confident me, I maintain healthy boundaries, and I have learned how to soothe myself. Cured? Occasionally I think so. Better? Yes, definitely.
And so it felt like a good time to “terminate”. I have two sessions left, spaced out over two months. And I think I’m ready. It’s time to spread my wings and engage with the world out there.