Yesterday I had my last therapy session before J’s holiday. 16 days without therapy are stretching out ahead of me. That feels like a lot of time. It feels like I have a big space to fill, in the three afternoons each week that I’d usually be seeing J.
What helps is planning. Usually, I work out in advance what I’ll be doing instead of therapy. I plan things I’ll enjoy and can look forward to. I plan how to spend the money I’d usually spend on my sessions, which is literally the only good thing about J being away.
This time around I just couldn’t be bothered to arrange anything. I think I was in denial about the break, trying to ignore that it was approaching. These past few weeks, I have felt very dependent on J, and I didn’t want to think about having to cope without her. There has been so much going on for me that I didn’t want to use time in therapy to talk about how I’d manage the break.
After a triggering incident in one of my sessions a few weeks ago, what I wanted to focus on was rebuilding my sense of safety in therapy, and my trust in J. That sort of happened naturally, as the shock settled down and I realised nothing particular had changed. I did talk it through with J a bit, but that topic was derailed when I started to feel suicidal.
The dark place I’ve been in over the last week or so has taken up a lot of space. I’ve been obsessing on it; the destructive thoughts, the sense of failure at being back here again, the knowledge I have to change something and the fear of the unfamiliar.
Oddly, being so down enabled me to feel close to J again. The nuances of our relationship have felt less important than the fact that I can trust she is there to listen to the unbearable onslaught of crap that’s been going through my head. I’ve needed that. Therapy is the only place I can say any of that out loud. And the fact that J has listened and been kind and reassuring despite what I’ve come out with has made me feel like our relationship is strong enough for the break not to be horrendous.
That said, the break does matter. I don’t feel like J has abandoned me, or that she doesn’t care. I know she will return and I will see her again. I just feel very sad that I won’t have the closeness and comfort I get from being able to share some of the really dark thoughts and feelings with her. Fighting urges to self-harm or end my life every day is a lonely and exhausting battle, and there isn’t anyone else I want to share those thoughts with. I am afraid of how hard it’s going to be to get through the coming weeks without talking to her.
But because I have been so desperate and low lately, I didn’t ask J for any sort of contact during her time off. In the past, I’ve emailed her on the days I’d usually see her, or sent a text. Having that little bit of interaction with her helps me stay connected and feel secure. This time I didn’t want to ask, because I want her to have a break from me. I’ve been so miserable and hopeless, I can imagine that listening to me is hard work. Maybe I am afraid that I’m asking too much already. So I couldn’t ask for her to carry on hearing my crap while she is meant to be having a holiday. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that. Not asking feels like doing the right thing.
I did ask J for a note. We tried this last time she went away and it was really helpful. I asked her to write something for me and put it in an envelope, so I could keep it to open when I needed to. Having that letter and knowing I could get the ‘contact’ at a point I chose somehow enabled me to maintain the connection with her. And it feels good to have something tangible from her, something I can hold. Like last time, I’ve put the note on my mantlepiece so I can see it and know it’s there – reminding me that J is also still there.