As I think about resuming therapy tomorrow after a two and a half week break, I am thinking back over what has been one of the hardest but also one of the most encouraging therapy breaks I have had. My sessions over the period January to March were difficult and mixed – starting off with a great sense of disconnection, then a ‘repair’ and reconnection in the therapeutic relationship, only to find myself in the same disconnected state a few sessions later. At one point I felt as though I had taken ten steps back and no steps forward; and that I was back in my pre-September state whereby my view of therapy and my therapist was changing and alternating from one extreme to the other, on a session by session basis. Then, a few weeks before the Easter break, as happened before Christmas, a seemingly small or chance occurrence took place that uncovered a wealth of intense and valuable therapeutic material that transformed the course of sessions for a while.
Over those three months, my experiences often felt disjointed. We ranged over many topics, some feeling still incomplete even though the conversation came to a natural end and we moved onto other things. But taken as a whole, it was an immensely important period for my therapy, and each and every part of those three months contributed in its own way to the work that we did and the realisations that I came to. As my therapist noted, my posts on ‘BPD and testing those we love‘ and ‘Progress can be painful‘ showed how far I have come since she and I first started working together, and although the work has been ongoing for eighteen months, I think much of it has only started to come together since January.
As I think back over the last three months I am reminded of my post ‘Hope’, from July of last year:
I remember a friend telling me she had done a ‘happy dance’ when she read it – it was the first time I had really expressed hope and a sense of feeling cared for, within my current therapy. I had struggled greatly with not feeling cared for or understood by my therapist, as described in ‘Waiting‘, and so ‘Hope‘ marked a significant turning point for me. It was a turning point, not a destination – and so I continued to struggle with this issue for some time, and sometimes, to a (much) lesser extent, still do. But it was a vital milestone nonetheless, just as the experiences of the last few months (and particularly the last few weeks) have been vital for me as well.
This break has been difficult because with a greater investment and attachment to my therapy and therapist, and a greater immersion in our twice-weekly sessions, comes more pain and greater feelings of loss, upon separation. But this break has also been encouraging because despite the gap, I still feel connected to her, and that in itself feels like a huge achievement. I don’t think that sense of connection and of her ongoing caring is something I have sustained in any other previous break. I think it’s partly a function of changes within me, and partly a function of trying to receive what she gives me – in terms of a limited degree of email contact between sessions, for example – and using it to remind myself that despite not being physically present, she is still real, and she hasn’t changed.
I have no idea what the next few months of therapy will bring. Thinking about tomorrow, I am at a loss to know where to even begin, given the vast number of things I would like to talk about, including not just what happened over the break, but topics that came up in the few sessions before the break that were not fully explored. But given my recent experiences, I am no longer as nervous about the possibility of skipping between issues and then coming back to them; or of the pace and intensity of sessions changing at different times; or of sometimes not having a plan of what to talk about and at other times having a long list and covering only a fraction. Given my recent experiences, I dare to hope that my next few months of therapy will be as productive as the last. I dare not hope, yet, that my next therapy break will be any easier, or will be just as encouraging.
But hope I do.