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Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Breaking Up (with my therapist)

The day I told my therapist I wanted to stop seeing her was a traumatic one. She saw me through some rough times. She counseled me about how to make peace with the spiritual abuse in my past. She taught me how to be kind to myself, to be my own defender. She walked me through the first scary days when I realized my relationship with M. may be coming to an end. She was there for me during my first temporary break up with M., which lasted a month.

My therapist worked with me a lot on my inclination to do things I really don't want to do. Whether it is going on a date with someone I don't really like or attending a party for somebody who bores me, I frequently find myself going along with plans just to avoid hurting anyone's feelings. She taught me how to say no, although I have to admit I cried after I hung up the phone with a guy I had turned down for a second date. I felt like a bitch. Still, I did feel stronger.

In fact, because of this newfound strength, I decided to discontinue therapy. At least for the time being. When I decided to let my therapist know about my decision, I also told her I had a lot of anxiety about calling it quits with her.

She asked me what I feared about discontinuing our sessions.

"What is the worst thing about stopping therapy," she asked. "No matter how silly it may seem to you, I want you to tell me what you are afraid of."

I stammered for a moment and tried to give form to my thoughts. "I guess I'm afraid, that - well, I'm afraid your feelings will be hurt," I told her earnestly.

She smiled and said, "Yeah, I thought that might be it."

She laughed, and then I laughed.

"Looks like I'm still having the same problem worrying about everybody's feelings," I admitted.

"No," she said. "It doesn't seem to be a 'problem' anymore. You were afraid my feelings would be hurt if you stopped seeing me. But you told me anyway."

It seems I had made some progress after all, and as I walked out the door, I left her with some final words.

"I think you'll be okay," I said, "but if you ever need to talk about any hurt feelings you may have, just give me a call and I can schedule an appointment for you."

It was great to walk out of her office with her laughter echoing in my ears. Then again, she made a couple thousand dollars off me, so why wouldn't she laugh?

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