I’m proud of my 1 for 1 record in the dating world. I found a good partner and kept him, which means I’ve never been dumped. That is, until now. Last week, my therapist dumped me. Talk about a bad break up.
I have been going to therapy for over a year now. A year! That’s a long time. I thought we meant something to each other! We laughed together, she has watched me cry, and she knows about all my thoughts and feelings. We were pretty perfect. Or at least I thought so… Last session, after a twenty minute update on how happy I have been the last month and how I’ve felt more in control of my life, she said the dreaded word… “termination.”
What? NO? But.. but.. my life’s not that perfect. I have more. I need more help. I can’t…
Why do they call it termination, anyway? It’s like Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to leap out from behind her bookshelf and escort me out of the office in order to make sure I never come back ever again. Termination. It’s so morbid. Permanent. No one’s dying here, but in that moment as that word slipped out of her mouth, my world of control fell apart. My anxiety is under control. I haven’t had a panic attack in a few months and I rarely have the constant obsessive thoughts that use to keep me up till the early morning hours each night. But termination? I can’t be ready.
I looked at her with my best fake smile and said “Sure, of course I’m ready for that. I’m in such a great place and I’m confident that I am ready to.. ehh, terminate?” But in my head my mind was coming up with every worse case scenario that could possibly result from this decision. What if I stop coming and then I have a major life crisis? Or what if the only reason I have been doing better is because of this safety net that she has provided me? Or even worse what if I’m actually crazy and she is just using this whole “termination” excuse to get rid of me? I snapped back out of that fear whirlwind to make sure that my smile continued to stay glued to my apprehensive face as she replied, all too cheerfully if I may add, “Great! Next week will be our last session.”
NEXT WEEK! Way to really ease me out of this. I only have a week to think of all the possible issues that could possibly arise in the next 20 or 30 years. I’m sure there are hundreds of traumatic childhood experiences, repressed memories, and defense mechanisms to work through, right? I kept circling back to the thought that “I thought we really had something special here and you just want to throw it all away in a WEEK!” Bitch. Oh, sorry. “Yes, yes I’m sooooo ready to move on. I can totally take care of myself,” I replied.
I stepped slowly out of the office that day not knowing how to feel. I guess that’s how it feels when you are dumped. As I rode the elevator down three flights, I contemplated the many ways I could change her mind in next week’s session. Maybe I could fake some family death or tragedy, maybe I could bring up another fight I had with a family member, or maybe I could just get really sick and postpone it one more week. Yeah, that’s it. But as I exited the building listening to my own anxious thoughts ruminate about the different self-inflicted possibilities of remaining in therapy. I finally understood.
She didn’t break up with me. I had broken up with her. She had given me this choice since our first session and I had finally chosen it. Freedom. My life has always been about the approval and advice of others. What does he want for my life? Will she like me if I do this? What can I do to make them think I’m worthy? Constant. No wonder I have anxiety. Over the past few months (with the help of some medication) I have broken down (although not completely) those destructive cycles and released the anchors from my life. Accepting that life is a shit show and moving through the shit instead of pretending that I can navigate around it has granted me a freedom beyond words.
So I stopped walking and busted out laughing. I had finally broken up with the person that helped me find my own freedom. She was the last person that I was fighting so desperately to seek approval from, but she knew that I didn’t need it anymore. I still don’t think they should call it termination, but I do think it signals a kind of death. My old self and ways of operating that I dumped on her and revealed to her die now with this relationship. I no longer have to be that person. I am free to live.
So, thanks, to the therapist that dumped me and thanks for letting me dump you. Because it’s not you, it’s me.