In September 2016, I lost my therapist whom I had been seeing for a great majority of my adult life to retirement. It wasn’t the first time I had lost her, but it was perhaps the most difficult of these occasions. Over a year later, I can honestly say the pain is better, but it isn’t gone.
Paula Was More Than Just Someone I Saw Weekly
Paula was more than just someone I saw weekly for several years, she had become the mother I wish had raised me. It’s not that she coddled me, nothing of the sort, but that she taught me many of the lessons I should have received in childhood.
I learned a great deal from that little Psychologist, about myself and others. If I were to begin a blog post just about the things I learned from our time working together, it would fill many pages.
I Lost Paula the First Time to a Bankruptcy
I lost Paula the first time to a bankruptcy which unfortunately included the clinic she worked in. They wouldn’t allow me to even see her long enough to say goodbye, and for fifteen years she didn’t know what had become of me.
I suffered because of that fracture deeply. I floundered about looking for another mother figure, but upon finding none, I slowly lost touch with myself and reality. Eventually, to protect me, my brother urged me to enter a long-term psychiatric facility where I remained for the next seven and a half years.
Once I returned to live in the community, I was still very lost. I needed Paula’s guidance. So, when I learned the clinic had a program to write off old bills, I called them and was allowed once again to see her. I can’t describe how joyous our reunion was for me, and I think she was glad to see me again too.
I Live With Dissociative Identity Disorder
As many of you who read this blog know, I live with a condition known as dissociative identity disorder. I have many alters who are children of all stages, the most populous being around six years old. When we met with Paula for the first time after the long hard years of not having her as a therapist, the noise in my head was overwhelming as these young children sang and yelled happily.
In the fall of 2015, Paula announced she would be retiring the following September. I wish I could say I took the news well. I tried to be adult and understand the need for her to retire, but the children in my system began to panic. Because of this instability, I lost ten months of my life to a dissociative episode.
Not only this, but I lost ten months of twelve from the last year I would have Paula as my therapist.
Our Last Hour Together Was Very Painful
The last hour we had together was very painful, but I tried not to show how I was truly feeling. I knew, as an adult, that Paula not only deserved her retirement, but that she needed it so that she could move on into her own life. This knowledge did nothing to end the pain of knowing in my heart that I would most likely never see or hear from her again.
Now, over a year later, I still struggle with this terrific loss to my life. I’m seeing a fine therapist now, but it feels to me like I’ve suffered the death of Paula. I know she is somewhere in the area, but because she is so professional, she will never contact me ever again. That hurts. More than I can say. Just writing this post has brought me to tears.
Some Advice to Both Providers and Clients
If you are a mental health provider, I would ask you to try to remember that the people who have grown to respect and love you shouldn’t be just shrugged off. Not that Paula is doing this, but that’s the way it feels. I understand she is reluctant to contact me in any way because she feels I may become somehow dependent on her, and that I should move on with my life. I wish it were that simple.
If you are a client facing the loss of your beloved therapist, hang on for a bumpy ride. Like the death of a parent, the pain will not end, but over time it will change. Try to focus on the things you learned while you were in their office, and not the fact they are gone forever.
My Final Words to My Therapist
I wrote the following poem just last week about the pain my alters and I still feel from the retirement of Paula.
My Final Words to My Therapist
I have sat for many hours
Opening my soul to you
Listening with my heart
To your wisdom, wishing you were my mom
Now you are gone
And I am alone again
The pain is still hurting
But I can no longer listen to your voice
I didn’t want you to go
I wanted to be your child
Although I understand
You needed to retire to find a new life
The children inside my mind
Weep for you every day
I sit alone in my room
And allow their despair to wash over me
After all the years
Of telling you my heart
I can no longer reach out to you
And that hurts me to the core of my being
You could die
And I would never know
I could die
And you would not care when or why
I wish I could see
You just one more time
To tell you how I hurt
But I know you would never allow that
You told me once
I would not owe you anything
When we parted company
That I would be free to go my own way
Now that it you’ve gone
I must go forward without you
I must remember what you taught me
But my soul is in pain and I am so damn confused
You were the mother
I never had
It is like you’ve died
I’ll never see you or hear your wisdom again
I know I can say
All these things
Because you will not know
I would never impose upon your professionalism
I just wish
Oh God I wish
You were my real mom
Then you wouldn’t be out of reach forever
I have one more thing
I would like to say
Before I end this poem
I love you Paula, and I will always miss you very much