Follow up session: My therapy full stop
I usually read out my journal entries at the beginning of therapy sessions, which leads to a deeper level of reflective thinking (in my safe place). This in turn, leads to the type of connective conversations that I have found invaluable throughout the whole process. But, as it has been six weeks since my last visit and as this was my follow up and checking in session, (to see how I have coped on my own), I simply did not feel the need, to read out my journal today (and this would have taken a very long time anyhow). I did however, want to share with my therapist, exactly how I have been since last seeing her, so I had already made a pre-decision, to read out “Life after therapy“.
I did not want to cry today, but reading this article out-loud, did something to me. I had read the article many times before. I wrote it. I edited it. I shared it. But saying the words, and sharing them with my therapist, hearing the words and feeling them hang heavily in the air, created an unexpected emotional reaction:
• The Nanna-Tan moment with my daughter.
• The ‘Iris’ by the Goo Goo Dolls moment with my youngest and how he not only melted my heart, but made me really smile, from the inside out.
• Catching myself looking at my children, allowing my head to fill with all the things that they are involved with and participating in. Realising that despite my history, my constant second guessing and questioning of my own parenting abilities and decisions, I have created 3, happy, confident children. In spite all of this, they are not afraid to stand up and be counted and I am immensely proud of them (and me), for that.
• The fact that I have noticed these positive and uplifting moments much more since therapy ended and I have been allowing myself to be immersed in them.
• I have found myself wanting to be more ‘in the moment’ and really with my children and I have re-discovering the joy that my children bring me. I have a new appreciation for my children’s ability, to always make me smile, even on the dark days.
These bits about my children and the idea of being truly in the moment, bought me harshly to the realisation, that I have missed a lot of these special little moments. All the beautiful little moments I have missed as a result of being disconnected, and swimming around in my own traumatic memories, not really living. All the times I have been physically in the room, but miles away, clinging on to the edge, in my head. All these little moments I can see and feel right now, have always been there, but I have been too preoccupied, just getting by, to properly notice. I cried and cried when this realisation hit.
I proceeded to get carried, by the overwhelming anger and sadness that followed. ‘He’ did that. ‘He’ did not just steal my innocence and almost destroy me emotionally: ‘he’ stole all those beautiful moments with my kids, from me. I am never going to get those moments back and for that, I hate ‘him’ so much more. Reading this article out today, was massively important, as were the tears that accompanied. In that moment, I made a decision: I am not going to allow ‘him’ to keep stealing these moments from me, or from my children. I decided to take back that particular power.
My therapist had written little notes in my file after each session, which she shared with me at my last appointment. This was to show me my own progress and the sheer scale of the journey so far. She told me today, that after that last session she wrote, she hoped I would return to this ‘follow up’ session full of confidence and I found that very touching. I really do feel like I have a much better hold on all of my ‘shit’ now. I have worked so hard and I have come so far. I really feel like I am beginning to live again, not just exist and that, is massive.
This final session felt like a p.s. at the bottom of the warmest letter and this is how my therapist described it. She asked me if I would ever publish the book (when it is complete) and when I said yes, she told me, that would be my full stop. I told her I would send her a copy, and my mum.
As she has done, every single session, my therapist asked me something forward focused, as a way of trying to ground me before I left; she asked me about Christmas and whether I was looking forward to it. I love Christmas now, as an adult. I love giving and the smiles on people’s faces and I try especially hard to continue the magic for my children. When my therapist asked me about Christmas today, I remembered something I had told her in a previous session. I have revisited some significant locations (for me), with my children to try and turn bad memories into nice ones. Quite often I have ruined the formation of these new memories, by allowing flashbacks, memories and thoughts to invade the moment and this has resulted in me being disconnected for the rest of the day. I told my therapist that I had also done this on previous Christmas days. I don’t think I will do that this year.
My therapist told me, that she started working with a new client this morning. That client had asked her if counselling/therapy works. She went on to tell me that she wished I could have been there, to show her new client that therapy absolutely can work, because I was a a living, breathing, successful advert. When she told me this, I could see the struggle it was for her to contain her own emotion, with the sense of pride I could feel emanating from her. After all, she has watched me transform my entire mindset, while holding my hand on this most difficult journey. It was a beautiful moment.
I felt like I wanted to hug my therapist at the end of this final session and I was able to verbalise this wish. I have been mindful and respectful of the professional boundaries up until this point and I have not previously asked. I know my therapist is not the most ‘huggy’ person but she instantly agreed and it was the best hug, full of warmth and sincerity. I left the session early (which has never happened), because I felt like I was done. It was complete.
I left a card and a small gift as a thank you; just a token of my appreciation for everything my therapist has helped me with, the biggest and most significant thing for me, being safety. I feel like my fear of falling apart has gone and to, the anger I once held for my mum. I was most definitely hit by the massive wave of appreciation that I was expecting.
I went to my dear friend’s house after the session, to check on her as she is currently off work, injured. It absolutely was the best thing to do, because I had the opportunity to talk through the session straight away, and I cried a little more. There has been so much change for me and the wave, hit me again at my friend’s house. It made me question, if I hadn’t of met my dear friend, where I would be now? If I hadn’t of chosen to join my current gym, or my dear friend’s aerobics class, I would never have met my friend. I would never have felt safe enough to start this journey and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am right now; which is actually a really good place. Yes I am highly emotional today, but for many years I could not cry, so even this is progress. I’m sad but happy at the same time.
So now that this therapy has ended and has been neatly finished with a full stop (and a p.s.), I find myself once again excited for life. I feel like I am ready for the rest of my life and I really mean that. I know there will be many ups and downs in the days, weeks, months and years to come and I also know, that the journey is definitely not complete. There may be a time when I need another course of therapy and if I need it, I will return. But right now……….I feel content.