A close close friend of mine is going through a break up right now from her girlfriend of 3 years while I'm going through my break up with my therapist of 14 years. I keep saying to my friend, "There's no right way to break up." I think I've been saying this because she feels bad about the break up and she feels that she should be handling it better or more compassionately (she's doing the breaking up) and I just feel that all this extra guilt about not 'breaking up right' is adding to her stress.
But when it comes to breaking up with a therapist, well, I think there is a more effective way of doing this. And maybe there's something to be learned from this kind of therapeutic break up that could be applied to romantic break ups. Maybe. I would hope so. Otherwise, why am I paying all this money to break up with someone?
First of all, with my therapist, there's no 'dumping.' There's no bombshell, no "I'm leaving you" that comes out of nowhere and shatters the dumpee. There's conversation. There's a lead-up. "Things don't seem to be working out so well..." or, in my case, "I'm moving out of state..." And there's discussion about all the feelings that come up around this. ABANDONMENT, of course, betrayal, rejection, loss, sadness, feeling cheated, etc. I've found these discussions to be very healing and helpful as I've been in this closure process for the past four weeks.
Three more sessions to go.
Today is my last in-person session with my therapist. The next last two will be over Skype. So, for this last in-person session, I'm giving my therapist some gifts -- art pieces I've made for her. I have no delusions that she'll hang them on her walls or keep them in a special place. They are expressions of my love and appreciation for her that I want her to have. They were made with the idea of encapsulating our relationship in some way. I admit they have everything to do with me and really nothing to do with her. And I'm not put off in the least if she ends up throwing them out or putting them in the back of a closet somewhere.
I did also write her a poem, a 'farewell monologue,' which sums up a lot of how I feel for her. How amazing would it be if a person who was broken up with could have the time/attention of the person who left them for an hour four weeks after the break up to just process the relationship, the end of the relationship somewhat? I've offered that to some of the people I've broken up with and I've been offered that by one woman who broke up with me. I know for me it was HUGELY helpful in the healing process. On the receiving end, it was a bit excruciating, but it was only an hour and I felt it was a kindness I could manage.
I expect the next two sessions on Skype will be spent talking about our history, going over memories, processing some current issues that are going on due to the break up. I'm not crazy about the therapist I'm moving on to (how could I be?) so, there's that to talk about, too.
I had one girlfriend who suggested when we were talking about breaking up that we take a week off from talking/seeing each other and then check in in a week to discuss how we felt. We did so. We both still felt confused and unclear. We took another week. Talked. Still unclear and muddled. Took one more week off and I became clear that I wanted her in my life, but on a very limited basis. So, I suggested we go back to dating. She said she didn't think that was possible for her. We discussed it and came to the conclusion that we were incompatible at this point and should break up, which we did. That was probably the healthiest break up I've ever had. There was very little emotional fervor and we both had our own and each other's best interests at heart. 'Course, we'd only been seeing each other for under a year...
I think my close friend going through her break up is going to continue to suffer with guilt and aggravation. I don't imagine she's in any sort of place to withstand her soon-to-be ex's expression of loss, pain, anger, betrayal, rejection etc... Maybe she will be in a month or so. But by then, maybe her ex will not want to speak to her. We're funny creatures when it comes to break ups. We do everything we can to distract ourselves from the loss that we ignore how we can help each other through it.
Sometimes I wish that we could look at break ups as a 'reconfiguring' of the relationship from point A to point B. Same people, different dynamic. Then it wouldn't have to be so traumatic, maybe? I'm certainly no expert.
Well, I'm off to my therapy appointment. We'll see what comes of all these gifts I'm going to lay on her.