I have not seen E for 28 days. We tried to squeeze in one last session before her trip to Japan, but that didn’t work out.japan one month no therapist #therapy #vacation
She took off earlier than she had expected and has been experiencing Japanese culture, for several weeks. She must be on the plane on her way home as I write this.

I thought I would be writing a
lot on the blog about missing her, about the coping strategies I’d planned were working. Instead, I’ve only posted five times since she left, and I haven’t actively kept up with a lot of blogs I typically enjoy reading (sorry!). The thing is, the coping strategy that I actually ended up using was to close up shop. No reading my notes from therapy. No processing my feelings. No writing in my journal. Everything went into a box tucked deep into the freezer during E’s absence.

I mean, obviously life went on, and I did try to take care of myself. I saw C once a week, and we continued to work on pain management and relaxation. I strengthened my meditation practice. I began planning healthier meals and re-started the menu planning I used to do.

There were ups and downs at work, and I paid attention to them, but with as little judgment as possible. When I renegotiated my job responsibilities, I gave myself a year to see whether I could make this job work for me. If I had only said six months, I’d have to say “no.” I still love the work itself, most clients and most colleagues. But the executive team (CEO and CPO) are pushing people so hard; the culture is all stress and unrealistic deadlines. It’s hard to walk away though, so in the next six months, I’ll be experimenting with ways to try to keep the work I love but still stay sane. I’ll want E to help me with this, because it’s really hard not to get sucked into the intensity of it all.

I have to tell you though, even though I put therapy into the deep freeze, E didn’t forget me. I think I wrote earlier that she left an encouraging message on my cell phone. I did listen to that a few times, maybe once a week. About midway through her trip, I received a really nice card from her in the mail (I’m guessing she asked C to mail it? or some friend). In it, she reiterated her commitment to our work together and said she was happy and honored to be witness and support in my healing.

One day she sent me a text, Thinking of you. Hoping you are well and continuing to support yourself. I’m having an amazing vacation. Just thought I’d let you know you’re in my thoughts. I was very surprised and touched be this, because we had intentionally decided no email, no Skype, etc.  It makes me feel warm inside that she just wanted to send me that text. I texted back a simple Wishing you continued amazement.

But even with this kindness from her, I have avoided thinking about therapy. And I’ve mostly been all right. I few days, when work stress was bad, I did feel the urge to self-harm, but I took walks or listened to a guided meditation instead.

It’s just now, over the past three days, as our Tuesday afternoon appointment approaches, that I’ve started to think about everything again. I’ve begun to attend to the littlest one, the nine-year-old, the teen. Amazingly, they aren’t feeling angry and neglected. Maybe that’s because I have continued to care for my adult self; I don’t really know. Anyway, I have survived with less turmoil than I expected. I couldn’t just keep this up forever, but I have managed for the month.

You know what the best part of all this is? After this, she won’t be taking another extended vacation for a very long time.