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Leaving after 5 intense years

Discussion in 'Treatment & Therapy' started by Leah123, May 17, 2018 at 11:01 AM.

  1. Leah123

    Leah123 This is Quan Yin, goddess of compassion.

    I'm ending therapy after five years. It's not.... a happy, success story ending. It's gotten too upsetting to go week after week and I can't take the strain anymore, the ups and downs, the disconnects, but I love my therapist.

    She's been unbelievably welcoming, we've gotten so close over the years, even from the start. I began therapy on an intense schedule, several hours a week and even today we chat online most weekdays and then have our weekly phone session (she lives far away).

    This woman is like the world to me in terms of female relationships. (I'm estranged from my mother and don't have any other real strong older female relationships like that, and I've worked from home for the last 12 years so I don't have in person friends. Just started a new job a few months ago, but it's odd hours and I'm still newish.) I've gotten to calling her GEM as a nickname, "good enough mother" from a therapy concept we talked about a long time ago. I'm in such grief it's just such a lonely feeling.

    I honestly thought she'd be my therapist for life, that we'd have some partnership relationship indefinitely, that was the plan. But I feel like we're never well attuned enough and it's been very stressful. The last little "straw" was yesterday when I wrote the day before I wanted to do a relaxation exercise and then I lost track of time and didn't mention it again til the end of session and it was too late, so once again going out in the world feeling raw, upset, frustrated.

    Been a long week you see, serious-seeming troubles at home and no good sleep this week, sick dog and the normal stressors, the new job challenges and fights at home and working too many hours, two jobs, and I'm so tired.

    Now I'm tired and sad because I couldn't deal with the intensity of therapy anymore, I just needed a place to help me feel better, but it helped me feel worse. I don't even know how to explain it all, I'm just sitting here crying and a full workday ahead, but so tired.

    It wasn't just yesterday, I've said I've had enough or gotten upset and said I wanted to end this several times over the last six or more months. We got into disagreement about how to work with my daughter, serious one, a tough rupture, so there was that, and then, it's just.... too many difficulties on a recurring basis.

    I just wish.... it didn't have to be such a tough choice, an all or nothing. :( To lose someone so important because it's going too wrong, too intense instead of calming and empowering and positive more.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2018 at 1:30 PM
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  3. barefoot

    barefoot I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    Sorry to hear that this is feeling very raw and painful for you @Leah123

    I don't know whether leaving or staying in therapy is the right thing for you. But I did just want to challenge this:

    Is it an all or nothing choice, really?

    Could another choice be:
    - go back next session and talk to her about the current situation and how you're feeling?
    - staying in therapy but going less frequently (and therefore maybe less intensity)
    - staying in therapy and working on relational stuff, attachment etc
    - having a few lighter sessions where you don't dig into really intense material and you can try to recalibrate
    - taking a break from therapy
    - put off making a decision until you have fewer stressors going on in your life - in case current stress is influencing your decision

    I'm not suggesting that you *should* stay and *shouldn't* leave. I have no idea. I just wanted to emphasise that you do have choices here. Things are very rarely all or nothing.

    Take care.
    Sietz, Friday, Didn’t know and 5 others like this.
  4. Leah123

    Leah123 This is Quan Yin, goddess of compassion.

    Thank you for writing that.

    We've had a lot of ruptures where I feel like leaving and sort of hash it out and I come back, but more stressors keep arising, things don't change or change for long and I'm back in the cycle where every second or third session or interaction is so upsetting that I spend hours or more feeling upset after and losing time when I could be doing better things. :(

    I agree with you I'd like something that's not all or nothing, and I will miss her like crazy, but... I'm torn. She wrote me that I've made my point, by saying I had to leave again, and that she thinks at this point termination is best too and not to contact her til Monday, she'll be thinking about how to proceed with termination and reply to me then. :(

    It's a mess.
    hithere likes this.
  5. barefoot

    barefoot I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    Oh, that does sound messy and painful.

    I think we can expect some ruptures a long the way in therapy - perhaps especially with longer term therapeutic relationships. I've found that the few ruptures I've had with mine over the past almost four years have ultimately actually strengthened our alliance and have helped move the work forwards too, difficult though they were at the time.

    But lots of ruptures that never seem to be ultimately resolved? And every second or third session causing such intense upset and disrupting your day-to-day life/functioning? That does sound intense and I'm not sure how therapeutic that pattern really is.

    Were you hoping she would try to persuade you to return?
    Would you have been persuadable if she had?

    If she's going to mull it over for the next couple of days, you can do that too if you like. If you are going to terminate, I'd say that process should be a collaborative one where you both need to agree on how you can have the best ending possible. So, if you feel up to it and if you think it could help, maybe have a think about how you would like the process to go.
    hithere, Leah123 and blackemerald1 like this.
  6. Leah123

    Leah123 This is Quan Yin, goddess of compassion.

    I wasn't hoping she would try to persaude me to return, sigh. I.... do not want to stop our relationship overall, but I do not see any way (and I have tried, but not succeeded) to maintain our relationship in a way that's easier, and it's just too difficult as it is. :(

    I don't think I would have been persuadable, becuase... we're just not managing session time well. I can't keep leaving our interactions upset, stressed, challenged to the point of being upset for hours, I don't have it in me. I'm already dealing with a very challenging recent career change, two jobs, serious family issues, sleep issues, etc. I literally don't have the stamina to keep being challenged and not having the time I need in therapy for feeling better, feeling...uplifted some. Empowered. I miss therapy having a positive vibe.

    She asked me why I didn't ask for the relaxation exercise earlier. I never get it right apparently. She focuses so much on my daughter with me though, I wish she'd help guide the conversation to active exercises I benefit from and such, but I know after a lengthy period that if I don't lead, she won't, and I can't always seem to lead. I'm tired, I wander, I struggle.

    I feel like... she's a good mother-figure, but.... her style, her process, just isn't.... it's not sustainable for me. :(

    I hate the thought of termination, of a final goodbye. I hope.... I don't know what I hope. I will have to think about termination, the how of it.... I just can't believe it's happening right now. I thought it would be for the best, it probably will, but why is "best" where I lose my therapist. Sorry, that's not an actual question.
    Sietz and hithere like this.
  7. blackemerald1

    blackemerald1 I'm a VIP Premium Member

    @Leah123 it seems to me that you have gone round and round with this therapist and you may have possibly hit the ceiling with this therapist.

    Maybe this GEM is not able to see this for herself either?

    I am sure after such an extended period of contact you will find it hard to not have contact with her. You may need some adjustment time. Will you have some kind of support if you start feeling fragile as you adjust? Not meaning returning to this therapist but someone else to speak with?

    I'm uncertain why she did not see these ruptures herself and pull you up before it gets too intense. I am just asking if she knew about your struggles outside of therapy after sessions.
    Sietz, hithere and Leah123 like this.
  8. Leah123

    Leah123 This is Quan Yin, goddess of compassion.

    I do believe we've gone round and round. We've... had some really good times, but lots of challenges, lots of closeness, but lots of rough spots too. I have spoken about how I feel, what I want, what works, what hurts, but... she has her style, and I don't seem to advocate/direct well in the moment, and... between us, right now, it just hurts. I think the last several months of wanting to leave on and off, of reacting and saying so, was probably part of the separating process, the growing apart process for this final termination maybe. So depressing.

    I don't have any one to support me much. I have my husband.... he might care, some, he'll try, but it's kinda rough with us, hard sometimes. A lot. I just.... no one I know will understand this, this breakup. I don't know many people because I stayed at home to work all these years, raise my daughter, don't really have a lot of friends or people who know I'm in therapy much, and I just kinda left my old job a few months ago, only there once a week not talking to my coworkers much, so... kinda awkward right now.

    That's the thing with my therapist-
    she never knew or understood how to help me, consistently, to be calm and okay within our therapy, to help me settle. She is like.... a person to talk things out with and brainstorm, that's her wheelhouse, her strong suit. She's funny, she' practical, she's caring, she's tenacious, she's faithful and dependable.

    But she's not... hardcore skilled. She knows relationships and a lot about development, but....

    Yes, I've told her, she knows and we chat sometimes about how hard this is for me, but... there isn't a fix. :(
    We used to work more on "fixes" on coping methods and rituals to help, but... not so much lately, I really miss the structure, and not having to try and create all the structure myself.
    blackemerald1 likes this.
  9. Suzetig

    Suzetig Still the Staff Kitteh... Moderator Sponsor $100+

    You’ve been in this incredibly intense relationship for a long time now - of course ending is going to be hard going. It sounds like the work with her in that relationship hasn’t really extended beyond that to other close relationships, where you’ve developed a support network outside of therapy.

    I wonder if really pulling back contact to once or twice a week - setting some clear boundaries in place and you finding external supports might really help. Even in good mother/daughter relationships there isn’t intense contact daily or even weekly - I’m guessing you like the intensity but it’s maybe not helping you move forward to build intimate relationships with others because you have such intimacy with her.

    I remember from previous posts that you’ve had significant ruptures over the years which haven’t been helped by the level of contact, by which I mean the relationship is such that the rupture have been almost all consuming. So of course this is going to be hard - maybe a more conventional therapy relationship might help bridge the gap?

    I feel for you, I’m ending with my much loved therapist too and it’s hard but it’s also such an important part of the therapy to leave, and for your therapist to help you leave.
    Sietz, hithere, Leah123 and 1 other person like this.
  10. Leah123

    Leah123 This is Quan Yin, goddess of compassion.

    Yes, its complicated. I've been limited in terms of outside relationships becuase I was working at home 60 hours a week, so while I tried meetup groups and talking to neighbors and do see my in laws regularly, I didn't have a lot of time or energy with work and my daughter's needs to be more independent and find those good relationships outside of the home, working online, all my coworkers were at least 1,000 miles away and life has been very very busy.

    Now I have a new job, which I hope will help, outside job, much more interaction, but not quite a regular office job where I could develop relationships as quickly, and I still work 10 hours Sundays at the old job, so time is still tight, but hopefully I'll have more time and energy for relationships now. (I also earned my degree while working 60h a week and moved not too long ago, so... my therapist's probably been a blessing in that sense, but yeah, not perfect.)

    Thanks for posting and I hope your ending with your therapist is a good one.

    The benefits, I thought I'd list those too. For balance.

    I had someone in my corner for five years. She helped me survive some long, sleep-deprived nights of mothering. There was lots of tea and sympathy and warmth, and lots of practical suggestions and professional prying. She never hesitated to challenge me or ask the tough questions. She was always ready to talk to me, like a true mother. She had some great ideas, a lot of knowledge, practical knowledge I benefited from. She inspired me to earn my degree, which was a lot of hard but rewarding work that led to me starting in this new, wonderful career. I'm poorer, ha, but more engaged, that's a win.

    She taught me to make time for myself and simplify my life, to not be a perfectionist. I struggle with finding time and paying bills, that balance, but... I've prioritized myself better in general. Something to focus on more as the whirlwind career change and family troubles hopefully settle out a bit and free me up a little more.

    She nurtured me, she made up for some lost time with my mom, the ugliness of our separation: she gave me some good corrective experiences. She was real, authentic, relatable.

    The benefits of leaving therapy will be less disappointments, misunderstandings, and sitting with pain and feeling like I'm not going somewhere with it in the moment, making it better.

    I will have a few hundred extra dollars a month I could really use.

    I will have probably 2-3 free hours a week and not lose any to therapy upsets.

    I will feel stronger, the constant, restlessness-feeling questioning and focus on difficulties in therapy creates an echo chamber effect sometimes, and the quiet to just live instead of do therapeutic work all the time will be freeing I hope, my life offers enough challenges, sigh.

    (But I'll lose contact w/my GEM. Hrm.)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2018 at 2:12 PM
    blackemerald1, hithere and Suzetig like this.
  11. Suzetig

    Suzetig Still the Staff Kitteh... Moderator Sponsor $100+

    Oh I really get this bit - not that my Y has been a mother figure to me, our relationship is different but it really matters to me so that loss of contact is hard. It may be that you can drop her the very occasional email just to touch base - not anything therapy related - until the relationship drifts naturally?
  12. hithere

    hithere Active Member

    I"m so sorry. I can only imagine. I have a friend and we have had a similar relationship, but it ends up someone gives in get back to where we were. That's been for 30 years. Yet, this woman is your therapist. You are a client, she is the paid therapist. After 5 years, perhaps there isn't anymore she can give you as a paid therapist. That doesn't take the pain and grief away of saying goodbye. I truly help with time and distance from her you will feel strong and whole and remember the good things you learned and took from her.
    blackemerald1 and Leah123 like this.
  13. Leah123

    Leah123 This is Quan Yin, goddess of compassion.

    Yes, I wish we could keep in touch somehow, sigh. I just wish it was easy. I'd pretty much kill to have it be an easy relationship, ha.
    I don't really know how things will proceed.... I guess she'll share Monday and then we can maybe work out the termination process together to an extent I hope, and after that... yeah, the "never again" aspect.... she's like family to me. She really is. It's hard, and hard to try and understand.
    blackemerald1 and hithere like this.
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