In a few weeks I am going to be moving out of my current home. This means I am also moving away from my therapist. The idea of finding a new therapist closer to where I’ll be hasn’t really crossed my mind, because I’m incredibly attached to J and I can’t imagine trying to work with someone new at the moment.
There are a lot of things I love that I am leaving behind for this move. My wonderful colleagues, the places I like to walk with the dog, friendly neighbours, a cosy house, and a day to day routine that makes me feel secure. Letting go of these things is hard, and it’s scary. But none of that is as scary as putting a commute of several hours between myself and J.
At the moment, J and I live in the same town. I can walk to her house in 25 minutes. But it isn’t about that convenience. What’s tough is the thought of not being near her anymore. I get a sense of safety and reassurance from knowing she’s not far away. It’s oddly comforting that we inhabit the same places. It’s like we have something more in common than the therapy. I feel tearful and worried when I think about losing that.
It’s hard to even talk about this with J, because it is so emotionally charged for me. But I did bring it up last week, and I was surprised when she said she’ll miss the very same thing. I hadn’t realised it means something to her too; being able to picture the places I am in and imagine where I am wandering about. I appreciated her sharing that with me.
What makes it all more difficult is knowing that I will lose a significant amount of my contact with her as well. In January, we already reduced from 3 session per week to 2, because of her changing what she’s doing. That was a huge deal for me, and I still struggle with missing her on Thursdays when I’d usually see her. When I move, I’m not going to be able to see her more than once per week. It’s hard to even think about that right now.
When we spoke about it last week, J suggested I think about what I need to make the transition easier. She mentioned that we could do a single 2 hour session. Or an hour in person and a session on Skype (although I think that’s not going to be workable with the technical limitations of living on a boat). She also said we could set up some email contact for a while.
I’ve only come up with one idea so far and I’m not even sure I could ask for it. I thought maybe I could ask J to give me a ‘transitional object’ to keep at home with me. I often find it comforting to borrow a blanket from her when I’m struggling to feel connected. But I thought maybe if I gave her the money to buy something for me, that would be even better. It would be something she has thought about and that comes from her, that I can look at or hold when I want to remind myself that she cares. However, it does feel impossibly hard to ask for this.
The problem is really that I can’t imagine anything will make this feel less distressing. So I wanted to ask for some advice / suggestions from others who might have had to manage the same kind of thing.
I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’re doing long distance therapy. How was the change for you? What did / didn’t help make it work?
Any input would be much appreciated, because right now I feel worried and super scared about it.
Photo: Robert Couse-Baker, Creative Commons.