there is so much so say and so little, all at once.
i mean, the world has changed dramatically. we all cover our faces now. avoid touching each other. bathe in sanitizer. across the globe we are all in various phases of resuming life since we were shut down by that invisible miniscule virus, that bastard covid-19, but it is but a shadow of our previous lives.
it’s been nearly six months of this new normal. in mid-march, my plane touched down in canada from seeing pocketbrit in the UK and it was all quarantine and online grocery orders and schools shutting and PPE and terror.
and it’s hard to think of life prior to that, when we could see our therapists in person and hug people and gather socially and have meetings and could breathe freely. and in particular, it’s weird to think about going to therapy at all, because i haven’t been since my therapist, S, ditched me nearly nine months ago, in early january. a stellar start to a dumpsterfire of a year.
and recently, after months of fighting the fact that i still do need help, after wading through the nine layers of hell(acious shame), i reached out to someone new and promptly ran away after one session.
i’m not sure i’m ever going to be able to trust someone ever again.
and i know that’s so stupid. i mean for goodness sakes, am i truly going to let my ex-therapist dictate the future relationships in my life? how super lame-o.
it’s just…it is a unique and tortuous experience, to be dumped by your therapist. particularly uniquely tortuous because i didn’t think it would happen to me, not in a million years, because i thought there was a base layer of respect and understanding and care and love (isn’t that last bit ridiculous? i know.)
and i let myself believe her lies (and they were lies, the lot of them) and that is the part that sucks the most, that i let her know me, i gave her access to my little one, that i trusted that she would hold us in mind. yes, that’s what hurts the most, that’s the pain that ripples out, month after month – it’s the pain of regret. i was so incredibly stupid to let her close, to believe her words. in the scheme of her life, i am someone she can support one moment and then the next…not.
i think because our challenges started several months prior to the final death of our relationship, i am feeling all sorts of things right now about her. i am still incredibly angry. and so, i thought i would use this space to write out my letter to her (i have penned several), both from adult me, and from the wee one inside.
here’s my grown-up version:
for most of the time between now and from when you dumped me as client, you have felt like an abstract thing. a banished thought in the corners of my mind, covered with piles of splattered dropcloths and barbed wire, walled off by chained link fencing with locked gates. there were several intense days following our last interaction where i was suicidal, full of shame and terror and grief, where i was consumed by all of it. my small one a trembling jelly-like oozing mess, spilling into everything, with her wails all i could hear.
then a vast galaxy of nothingness. where you were a thing that happened, a person i used to know, another disappointment among thousands of disappointments in my history, but with no sting to it. during this era there was nothing but numbness.
and then, there was rage. such huge fucking rage. i’m still one foot in the lava in it, i have to warn you. because i can’t believe the lies that you told me. i can’t believe the trust i placed in your hands. i can’t understand how your mouth could form the words not once, but repeatedly, that you loved me. respected me. cared about me.
i will never, ever make the mistake of trusting another therapist again like i trusted you. one day, i may work with someone again, but i will never share myself as fully as i did. and i will certainly never believe that i am anything more than a job for whoever the new person is, and i will not get tangled in notions of love and care. i know now that when it comes down to it, i don’t count, coz it’s not a real relationship. it is only as enduring as the therapist allows it to be: it can be cut at any moment. never, ever again will i believe that someone i pay, someone who works with people like me for a job, could come to love me, would find me important, or see me. ugh i’m shaking my head at myself, the naivete of my trust and belief in you. how could i have swallowed your lies? and for so long?
listen, i know your side of the story. i rubbed up against some old primal stuff, blah blah blah, you couldn’t provide me with what i needed, i was growing beyond you, yada yada. no matter how much a “good dedicated hardworking therapist” you wanted to be, you couldn’t. it was so wild how desperate you were for an out. you could barely wait to respond to my email – that egads, yes, now that i mentioned it, you likely weren’t the person to help me anymore. after seven years, being my therapist was suddenly too hard to even have a good enough ending. nope, i was too triggering, my questions and my hurt were too much, you were on edge, you seemed to have lost your instincts, you were unnerved – all of it, backhanded blame, just like always. so incredibly familiar. it was my fault that you couldn’t even have a last session in person, that you couldn’t say words to me over the phone, even. it was my fault for being who i was, for activating those things in you. (yes, that is what you said.)
there were glimpses of your fragile ego throughout our time together, but these glimpses, over the past year, turned into long stretches where you were defensive and inflexible. insensitive. out of touch. you have always talked big talk about the Greater Love and the Greater Good and the Big Holding of the Hands of the Universe but all of that was a smokescreen, i think. for your getting off on the guessing game that being a therapist provided. the detective work of it, the mystery of it. the stripping bare-ness of it. the weeping and the release and the intimacy and the rawness of it. front row seats to the processing of pain. front row seats to redemption?
i realized i could basically pinpoint the beginning of the end of things – could you? can you remember when i stopped being easy for you? i’ll tell you when – it was pretty much exactly when i worked through the majority of the attachment stuff, when i stopped trying so hard to appease and please, when i stopped reaching out as much in between, when i brought my anger along with my tears. when i got less little, and more adult, and challenged you as an equal rather than from the vantage point of a balled-up, trembling, terrified and traumatized little girl.
(who, by the way, is still very much present in me. poor little love. i could honestly spit, that i let you have access to her in the way that i did. and i have sworn to her, over and over, that i’ll never do that again to her with another therapist, not ever. no way. you literally held us, in your lap, and you were wrong for doing it but i was also wrong for letting you.)
in any case, you’ve got your side and i’ve got mine. and here’s how my side goes, in terms of us ending. you and your ego could sense that i was hurting, and that i was thinking of going elsewhere. and instead of being a therapist, instead of thinking about your client, and actually letting me choreograph our ending (the type of ending that you were fully aware that historically, i wasn’t able to get for myself)…you took that from me, too. you did it first. get before you are gotten. check, mate.
one of the worst parts of it all was that you called me ‘sweetie’ to the end. to the bitter end, you insisted you loved me and cared about me. including in your final bullshit note, the same one where you invoiced me the time it took for photocopying seven years of notes…like, not the cost of copying the notes themselves, that i understand. but invoicing me for the time it took you to photocopy the notes, remember that? ha. yeah, i felt your love. right down to the last cent. (also, fuck you extra for that.) and i can’t believe you would have done any of the things you did, but to actually say those things to me as you did what you did…did you hear yourself? how ridiculous it sounded to utter those words? S, none of how we ended was loving, caring, or respectful to or of me.
there was a time that i thought about actually engaging with you about this, but there is no point. it became incredibly clear what we were, and also what we weren’t. who you were, and who you weren’t. who i am, and who i’m not. and it turns out i’m not someone who needs to have the last word. i’m not someone who needs your meaningless apology or empty gestures or sad excuses. i have heard you loud and clear, through your words and also through your actions, and i’ve heard enough.
so yes, there is this anger, but there is also grief, the same mawing gnawing grief that is always at the edges of me. for thinking i had something when really, i had nothing. for believing in the fable of it all. for wanting something more and thinking it was possible. for looking outwards for the healing that can only happen within.
i long ago put away the hope that this, all of this, might mean something to you. might register as a loss. might trickle into your brain, in the night, tighten your tummy, bring sudden tears to your eyes. but, i don’t think it does. i was but a blip. easily replaceable, gladly forgotten. it is meant to be that way, with therapists and clients. it is not meant to be real, though those of us who are hurt are desperate for it to be. it just can’t be, we can’t be.
because you will always choose you. you will always save your own life first. secure your own oxygen mask to your face, before turning to help others with their own masks. of course it is, it’s how it’s meant to be. and lying, and saying it’s not, aye, there’s the damage. there’s the hurt. there’s the lie to beat all lies.
i know better now. and i have you to thank for that.
at another point, our stuffed pup and pocketbrit’s worn loved bear from her childhood that she gifted us clutched under my chin, i transcribed for the little one. and she cried and cried and cried and this is what she said:
you left me
you went away even though you said you cared but that was a big fat lie
i am a tiny speck, i am invisible, i don’t matter
i am a dummy for believing you
a big big dummy so big the biggest
and [pocketcanadian] is a dummy for letting me believe you
you said so many lies to me
right to my face, you said them
S you knew all the things that hurted me and you still did it, you still said lies and you aren’t even sorry
you don’t miss me at all because i didn’t count in your life
i tried to do all the things to make you stay
i told you all the things that made me cry and i cried so many times like a hundred million times and i let you near when i did and i wish i didn’t do that
i thought you meant it
i thought you cared
i thought it mattered
you said it did but it didn’t
i thought you were different S
but then on the last day you talked to me like i was stupid and said it wasn’t my fault but that was a lie too coz your other words said it was my fault
you threw me away like garbage
i didn’t even get to say goodbye
you only liked me when i was sad
not if i got mad
not when i got quiet
you only wanted me if i could be small and easy
just like everyone else did
just like always
you made me feel not alone for a little while but that was actually a lie anyway
and all of those words make my heart ache. because they’re her words and feelings, but they echo inside, bouncing off my ribs and my gut and my funny bones and my kneecaps and the soles of my feet. i don’t know how i’m meant to comfort her when there is such a large part of me believing her, feeling our constant, proverbial wrongness reverberating everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.