Untethered is the word that keeps coming to mind. I depended on my clockwork appointments to keep me grounded, to keep me from exploding or imploding or whatever else might have happened. Everything would build for days, and then would be released. It was my place to be totally selfish and to seek validation like mad, but from which I would always emerge feeling powerful and hopeful. Hope - that was something that I thought had just vanished, to the point where I actually forgot about it, forgot to notice its absence. Now, a year later, it's my driving force.
Well, and that's the thing. I know, logically, that everything I need to continue my upward trend exists within me and blah blah blah, but I really, really benefitted from regular reflection and guidance with someone else. And maybe it's also that she was fulfilling that "I'm-a-real-grown-up-who's-wiser-than-you" role for me, considering my struggle with accepting adulthood. I don't know...I think I'm just surprised at how this feels like such a loss.
At the same time? There's a reason we both thought it was time to terminate. Since the end of December, things have been...better. And for a couple weeks now, rather than waking up full of dread, the opposite has been happening. Regularly, reliably, and amazingly, I wake up feeling unbidden excitement. As with the dread, sometimes I can pinpoint the source (kitchen reno, sweet after-work plans, fancy March weather), and sometimes it seems to originate from everywhere and nowhere all at once. There's also random, genuine gratitude - and for the craziest shit, like a glimpse certain color combos in corners of my house or a waft of magnolia-scented air.
I know I go to extremes. I used to pride myself on going to extremes. And I'm just so happy that, these days, the extreme negativity is balanced, or even outweighed, by the extreme and mostly effortless hopefulness. That's why I agreed to the termination, after all.
Here's where my therapist would ask, "So, what changed?" Ha - which reminds me:
"Shit Social Workers Say." Cracks me up every time - I've said it all, it's been said to me. I use it to study for my licensing exam. It counts, right? Um, but anyway....So, what changed?
- I enjoy the work I do, but I've consciously made things outside of work my priority. The ironic thing is, it makes me better able to be present at work and fully commit to it while I'm there.
- I've taken up projects (again, outside of work) that have a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end. I mean, for real, it's super hard to be in a profession where the job is never done, especially since I thrive on reflecting on completed tasks. It makes ventures like the closet-office and the bedroom light display that much more satisfying, and I don't have to count on getting my sense of completion from my job.
- I'm reconnecting with my essential self and creating new personal and professional goals (i.e., hope becomes a sustainable resource when it grows from passion - since passion is a self-fulfilling prophecy, sort of like its counter-force, anxiety).
- I'm also reconnecting with my creativity, in a million different ways - house projects, this blog, my journal, etc. I'd forgotten how creativity begets creativity, and that awesome feeling you get when a project is just blooming inside of you (um, not a euphemism for pregnancy), and the details and possibilities just start spilling everywhere.
- After analyzing it intellectually and professionally for almost a decade, I finally understand the connections and differences among thoughts, feelings, and actions. Yeah. Maybe not such a quick study on that one, but better late than never.
- And, along the same lines, that endless loop of fear and negativity that plays in my mind? I can purposefully, forcefully interrupt it now.
I think those last two are the parts that I struggle with the most, and for which I required the most support. But I get it now, and I do have strategies and techniques that I can reliably access. Not all the time - no one can all the time - but truly, the vast majority of the time.
Um, and it also helps to know that if I'm really not ready, I can just go back. It's not like she's going anywhere right now. Still right down the street and covered by my insurance. Is it maybe the relationship that I'll miss, more than the regularly scheduled Hour of Self-Indulgence? And am I able now to provide that guidance and support for myself? Eh. We'll see. I know it's typical to feel sad when ending a client-therapist relationship (and no, not the inappropriate kind that I keep reading about in my actual licensing exam study materials)...I just hadn't experienced it from this end before.
Aaaand that's what she said.