I have no idea if that’s how you spell that whole oh wow theme but I tried and…..HI GUYS!!!!!
I’m not going to get into the whole yadda yadda of what’s been going with me, just know that I’m ill and maybe that’s my life now, I’m honestly not sure at this point. Moving on to the title of my post because, what!? Yep.
Did you know you could do that, break up with your therapist I mean? I knew you could, I’ve always known but I’ve only had two and I would have found it impossible to extricate myself from such an emotionally entangled and multilayered, indefinable relationship. Well…until I did it.
What happened? Why did I end our therapeutic relationship?
It’s actually quite simple as far as the basic reason and I hope that it may help any of you who find yourself in a similar predicament to realize that it’s okay to go. Actually it’s more than okay to go. BUT I have a suggestion about how I went about later that you should take into account so pay attention to that.
It came down to differences in philosophy and basically who we are as people. The differences were so HUGE that the chasm could not be crossed. I thought that perhaps we could build a bridge across that gap, after all I’ve gone to her for what, two years? There was no bridge. Let’s talk about why it wasn’t possible.
The first therapist I had, I had for over a decade and there’s a very good reason why we were able to work together for some long even though we had very different fundamental approaches to life. When I use words like “philosophy” or “fundamental” or whatever, I’m not talking about just specific ideologies like religion or spirituality even though that can become a factor in therapy. You can actually fill in whatever you want those words to mean for you. It can be lots of things, trust me! I learned the hard way.
Anyway, going back to my first therapist. The reason we could work together for so long came down to two things: communication and HER. When she said something that bothered me I would never be able to confront her in the moment because that’s not how I work anyway. I always have to go and think about something for a while, get my thoughts together and then confront no matter who it is. With her I would think about what she said that irked me and figure out what I wanted to say to her, she in turn would listen, make sure she understood exactly what it was that was upsetting for me and then we’d talk about it until we worked it out. Now, a lot of therapist do this but the next part is what makes the difference and it’s something only the therapist can do…
She Changed Her Approached For Me.
Over time through honest communication and RESPECT for my feelings and thoughts and who I am as a person, she tailored her therapeutic approach so that I could fully engage in therapy without doings that made me uncomfortable. She didn’t incorporate ideals that I didn’t believe in. Instead she would ask me how my personal belief system would handle a certain situation and she would tell me to do that. Keep in mind that she had her own philosophies and ideologies but the therapy wasn’t for her, it was for me and she was able to put her over 40 years of experience to use and still use all of her clinical knowledge to treat me while making me feel safe. But that was on her, only she could choose to do that, I couldn’t have forced her. All of the ups and downs and bumps in the road we had (they’re all documented here in past blog entries), they led to us having a once in a lifetime relationship.
What went wrong with my new therapist?
To rewind for a brief moment, my first therapist passed away and gave me to the new therapist beforehand because she knew it was coming. This is a HUGE factor into why I stayed for so long. I thought that she must have known something I didn’t; she couldn’t have made a mistake. I stayed and stayed and stayed even though I knew…I knew it wasn’t working. I knew it and it burns me up that I didn’t put myself first and get the hell out of there a year ago. I’m actually getting angrier the more I write about it. I wasted two years of therapy. Two years! Grrrrrrrrr…
Don’t get me wrong. She said some things in therapy that were extremely helpful! I would be like ‘Whoa! What!? Oh man! I need to go and think about that for like a month!’ So when things like that happened I would think that maybe if I gave it more time we’d be okay. We weren’t going to be okay.
She would NOT change her approach for me.
We had communication hiccups too and we did the same thing, talked it out. But, when she would want to do something either to me or with me or have me do something as part of therapy and I would say no because I wasn’t comfortable with it, instead of accepting my refusal she would frown at me and ask why I wouldn’t do it. If I casually expressed a personal ideology in conversation that was different from hers she would challenge it and then I would have to spend part of therapy defending something that had nothing to do with therapy. When I say no to something that should be enough.
She was very forceful and in your face which at times I could appreciate especially when she really wanted me to hear what she was saying but, it could be startling and come off as aggressive as well. I would be talking about something and in the middle of my sentence she would shoehorn in ‘because of your…’ and it was disconcerting. Are you telling me? Shouldn’t that be a conclusion I come to?
The deal breaker was when I became very, very ill. I needed to talk about what was going on and how to deal with all of the anxiety and how being so sick was making me feel. Well uhhhhh…her fundamental belief is that illness isn’t real. Every week was the same: How are you? I’m really tired as usual, I’m not feeling well. Tell me what’s going on. *I tell her*. You know I believe everything stems from emotion so next time try asking it what information it’s trying to tell you and then send light into it…
I couldn’t get any comfort there. I couldn’t just go in and say that everything sucked and have her listen. I couldn’t talk about how scared I was, how unsure my life was because, even though scientific medical doctors are diagnosing and treating me, she doesn’t believe I’m sick…she doesn’t believe anyone is sick.
I realized very suddenly that I hadn’t made any progress in therapy. I was going every two weeks now, and there was just nothing.
Fundamental differences. But you know what? Guess who’s fault it is? I’m pointing at myself. Yep. I should have asked her outright what kind of practitioner she was and if she was willing to adapt the way I would need her to. The answer would have been no and we could have gone our separate ways long ago.
So, I left and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Apparently some people have ended the therapeutic relationship by voicemail, some have simply never shown up for their next appointment. I was going to do it face to face but my husband said it was ridiculous to spend money to say I wasn’t coming back. I decided to write a very long email. I thanked her for everything she did for me and I sincerely complimented all of her good qualities and I acknowledged that her style would work very well with lots of people, just not me. I thought it was a decent compromise because she deserved way more than a voicemail.
Here’s the suggestion I asked you to pay attention to earlier: before I ended our therapeutic relationship I had already found a new therapist. I wasn’t just left out there flapping in the proverbial breeze without a net. I had someone that I was going to begin a new therapeutic relationship with and this new therapist had been recommended to me by my psychiatrist who I’ve been with for 16 years, the one who recommended my first therapist to me.
I feel cautious optimism but I’m going in now with the realization that I’m not stuck and that I have options. Also unlike my previous therapist, my new therapist lit up when I told her I write. She’s all about writing and when I told her about the blog she freaked out lol. My previous therapist was never interested in hearing what I wrote but my first therapist loved to have me read my writing. I’m hoping that maybe if my new therapist encourages writing, I can get back into posting here regularly again.
It’s okay to leave. Epiphanies can be awesome.