Today marks six months since Zooey terminated therapy with us. I actually have session with the new therapist at 4pm – which is the exact time of that termination session. Weird.

I thought I would feel different about it at this point. Better? More resolved? Less consumed with grief and confusion and shame? I don’t know, exactly. Just…different.

I suppose I do feel better overall. But in other more subtle and pervasive ways, I feel worse. I think I understood that her actions would ripple in ways that might take a long time to even see. But I felt determined to master it.

Looking back, I think so much of what held me to therapy in the aftermath of her abandonment was the absolute determination I felt to not allow this woman to have any more impact on my life than she already did. She hurt me profoundly. I didn’t want to let her continue to do so.

Yet…somehow she does. I don’t see her. I don’t speak to her. I don’t even know her. She is a ghost now. But, like a ghost, she haunts me. I see and hear her everywhere – in the words and expressions of the people I work furiously to trust. The very moments of connection and attunement that I long for are the same moments that snap me back to her. Her words. Her expressions. The naïveté with which I embarked on that therapeutic journey.

I am reminded of the vast discrepancy between what she often said versus what she actually did. She betrayed my trust without intent or malice. I think that’s worse. I prefer to imagine she deliberately compromised my treatment and progress than to accept the harsh reality that she just didn’t know better. 

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After reading Zooey’s email response, it seemed like she was trying to set a boundary, but was simultaneously refusing to be explicitly clear with me about it. I felt like her email was a cop-out and that she was STILL not taking responsibility for her own actions and decisions. I also knew that if I didn’t ask for clarification, I’d agonize over what, exactly, she meant.

So, true to form, I wrote her back and simply asked for clarification:

Thank you for responding, Zooey.

This may be redundant for you, but I do want to be perfectly clear on this: are you telling me to not ever communicate with you again in any way?

I understand the restrictions on personal relationships post-termination. In person and in a previous email, you said that you welcomed updates about my life. It would seem you are perhaps backtracking on that, so now I am admittedly confused.
I think it would be best if we were both explicitly clear on the boundary you are setting. Otherwise, it will probably drive me crazy to try and guess what is or is not okay.
Thank you,
This was her response, which made me both laugh very loudly and cry a bit:

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I recently saw the above quote while browsing tumblr. It’s short and vague and was probably written by an angsty teenager who just broke up with their bf/gf, but as soon as I saw it I felt like someone had punched me in the chest.

That quote essentially sums up who Zooey is to me now: a stranger who knows more intimate details about the most horrible aspects of our story than any other human being on the planet.

And that is excruciating.

I cannot accept this. I desperately need her to NOT be just a stranger with all my secrets. I need her to be something more. Someone more. Something bigger than that. I need to feel like our relationship goes beyond just me sharing secrets followed by estrangement. I need to know that I meant more. I need to feel like we’re somehow still connected.

I dreamed of her last night. It was a weird dream about living underwater, but I woke up missing her terribly. That feeling just sat right in the center of my chest all damn day, making it hard to breathe. When my wife got home this afternoon, I just started crying. I explained how much I miss Zooey today and how I don’t really understand how I’m supposed to be dealing with all of this. And that I wish so much that I could just talk to her.

So my wife suggested I just ask for what I want. And I did. I called Zooey and left a voicemail somewhat along the lines of this:

Hi Zooey, this is Andie. I actually have no reason for calling you, except that I just really miss you today. There’s nothing even significant about today (I don’t think) but you’ve just really been on my mind. I’ve spent a lot of time in session processing all of this with someone new. And that helps…a lot. But there’s no guidelines or handbook for navigating this situation, so I think I’m just trying to figure it out as I go.

I don’t really know what to say, exactly. I don’t need your professional help and I’m okay. But…you’re someone who means a lot to me and I would really love to hear your voice.

So this is probably super weird, but I’m going to ask if, when you have a some moments free, you could call me back and we could just talk for a few minutes. I don’t know if that’s allowed or whatever, but I thought I’d ask anyway.

My number is [number].

Thanks. I hope you’re well. Bye.

I don’t know that she’ll call me back. I hope she does though, even if only to let me know that it actually is not appropriate for us to be speaking on the phone now that I’m not her client or whatever. I really have no idea what I would even say to her if she did call back, but I’m not sure that it matters. All I know is that it felt very important to me that I be heard – that she know how I’m feeling and that I be able to send some of that energy out into the world.

It’s too much to carry all alone.

Change of Plans

Despite all of my insistence that I not go to my scheduled therapy session today, I ended up going after all. I was late, since I forgot to set an alarm, but I was there.

Ultimately, I realized that even though my sessions will end up close together, it’s still only one per week. So, financially, it’s not any extra expense. Additionally, the more I pondered it, the more I realized that considering the recent drama that has unfolded, now is probably a good a time as any to have sessions relatively close together. I certainly have a lot to talk about.

And talk I did.

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