I’m running out of photos since I’ve been posting so often lately. It makes me want to apologize to your inbox, if you’re a subscriber. It makes me want to thank every commenter profusely for even bothering to come to my blog.
And it’s not just my writing that I’m super self-conscious about right now. I’m over-analyzing everything. I’m pretty sure I’m apologizing way too much; I’m overly polite with every cashier and stranger on the bus; I’m wondering if the person I’m talking to secretly hates me; and I’m repeatedly and spontaneously telling people how much they mean to me. I exhaust myself and, of course, I’m worried that I’m exhausting you, too.
Anxiety, anxiety, ANXIETY!!!
Obviously, I haven’t been the picture of mental health for some time now, but I’m connecting this current anxiety with the fact that my therapist is still on holidays. Today marks two and a half weeks without my dual appointment per week routine.
To make it worse, my last session with my therapist wasn’t good. I’d been feeling very depressed and I felt hopeless about the upcoming break and then to top it all off, my therapist didn’t even say, “Merry Christmas” when it was time for me to go. Some years she’s given me a handshake or a hug before vacation time, but this year I got nothing.
Who gives a fuck about Santa Claus when even your therapist can’t give you the gift of plain courtesy before kicking you out of her office?
I called and left her an angry phone message after leaving my appointment that day. She returned my call later on and said that she thought any seasonal gesture might make me feel like she was making light of my situation. That helped me to understand, but I didn’t feel much better on hanging up the phone.
It can be really hard not to take a therapist’s absence personally. Isn’t Christmas the time of year when you’re supposed to spend time with people you care about? So if my therapist takes a holiday, I often resort to thinking, “HA! I KNEW SHE DIDN’T CARE ABOUT ME!“
Do you remember my previous post on Coping While Your Therapist is on Vacation? It’s this blog’s most popular entry, ever. So, I’m not the only one who knows the significance of a therapist going away for holidays.
If we’re struggling, we need more support not less. Unfortunately, we people in therapy lose one of our biggest supports a few times a year. No, it’s not fair. It’s one of the hard truths about therapy that few people talk about. It comes from the same place the fear in our gut whimpers, “But I shouldn’t have to pay someone to listen to me!”
Payments remind us that it’s our therapist’s job to listen to us, and that can hurt to think about. But remember that our therapists chose this line of work out of every other job out there. To go to school to become a therapist takes years and years and years. Therapists listen to some of the saddest stories on the planet, from multiple people, day in and day out, almost every day of their adult lives.
That’s one hell of a commitment and they couldn’t do it if they didn’t care about each and every one of us. Truly. And they care so much that they do take their work home with them sometimes, considering our stories long after they leave their office. Sometimes those stories might even distract them from other people they care about like their spouses or their children.
I’m not trying to make you feel guilty. I’m trying to explain this all to myself, because it’s scary to think that my therapist is human. She isn’t indestructible, as much as I need her to be. She’s mortal and that means that sometimes she needs a break to keep doing the work that she does.
Maybe when March Break or summer vacation comes along I can scroll back to this post. Maybe it can remind me that my therapist isn’t the same as all the people who have ever turned their backs on me. She isn’t trying to hurt me on purpose by going away and just because I’m out of her sight temporarily, it doesn’t mean I’m out of her mind.
She comes back from vacation, every time. After almost a decade of working with this woman, that consistency means a lot. It pays off. It pays me back in bigger ways than $100 a session. It pays me back for life.