As a person who believes I stop existing when I'm not in the same room as another person, I have a very difficult time saying goodbye.
Making the decision to say goodbye to my therapist Sue yesterday was one of the hardest things I've ever chosen to do. I don't let go of people unless I'm forced to; I will drag it out until eternity to keep from having to face change or face who I am -if I am- without that person. Whenever I am left or forced to leave someone, it's as though the part of me that was known by that person no longer exists. It honestly feels like a death, the loss feels so extreme.
As much as I deny that I've changed/improved very much, when I look back to that October six years ago when I first met Sue, I wasn't completely the same person I am today. I was scared, even more guarded, had even fewer words, knew even less about myself. Yesterday Sue said, "A lot has happened in these 6 years. Boy, has it-every time we turned around something happened." And it's true; the first few years were spent in constant crisis. ERs, hospitals, programs...there was no time to work on anything other than just staying alive and making it to the next session. Even with as hard as things are now, it's easy to forget that things have been worse. Sometimes it's hard to believe.
My tears flowed throughout the whole session. I talked about how I disappeared this summer, so non-present that it's all a nightmarish blur. Is this how I will continue without her? Sue has been my witness. What happens to my words and experiences without her there, holding onto them with me, caring more about me than I care about myself?
Yesterday and the months leading up to it I believed this was the right decision, that after 6 years this was as far as I could go. Too much had happened, trust was broken, and I was stuck. It would be so easy to stay with her, week after week in the same room, reporting the same symptoms, refusing to budge from the sick little girl I cling to. It would be so easy and I wish that I could.
How do you even begin to say goodbye to the person who has seen you at your most vulnerable, snotty and speechless, hyperventilating, bleeding and weightless? Who has heard your darkest secrets and suffocating fears? Who has witnessed your shame and your guilt? Sue was there when I had no one, when I was crumbling in my bedroom at home, and no one would hear me or question. You can't trust in someone like that, be heard and seen like that, and not be changed.
We decided not to drag it out, that there is no magic way to say goodbye that is complete and painless. That's new for me, someone who is paralyzed by the finality, the crushing feeling that I have to say everything I needed to say. But I realized that a lot doesn't need to be said; it's just known, present in both our tears, our first and final hug.