March 18, 2024

I Just Broke Up with my Therapist. Here’s Why.

 

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Of all the breakups I’ve been through, this was one I never anticipated.

Like all relationships, it started out so good.

I interviewed them and felt we were on a good vibe. I trusted their credentials and believed they would gently hold the therapeutic space I needed whilst holding me to account for my own actions and behaviours. I wanted a light shone on my blind spots, on the shadowy corners of my soul I struggle to access, the areas of my psyche I’m unable to see.

And yet, quite ironically, perhaps the most valuable part of the interaction with my former therapist was the lesson I received in the undoing rather than the doing itself.

Let me explain.

After just a few sessions, we were diving headfirst into my relational patterns—why I always seem to repeat the same mistakes and how I often struggle to prioritise my needs over another’s. It was here in the context of this analysis my therapist told me I was unwell. “Pretty sick” was the exact description, shortly followed by the diagnosis of “codependency.” For those unfamiliar with the term, co-dependency is used to describe someone who exhibits self-sacrificial behaviours, suppresses one’s own emotions, and focuses intensely on other’s needs with the objective of controlling or “fixing” another’s problems.

Whilst I don’t doubt that some of my behaviours have previously exhibited tendencies aligned with this, I do not agree that every action I take reflects a deeply disturbing pattern of codependency.

I do not, for example, agree that offering to help my relatives with their technological maladies is an example of codependent behaviours to which my therapist had alluded. Even if at times, it’s inconvenient to me or conflicts with other personal plans. My family does a lot for me in return. It’s called give and take. It’s called being flexible. It’s call being a good team player.

What my therapist was saying just didn’t sit right and it was then that I recognised a familiar feeling: a feeling in the pit of my stomach, one I knew intimately. I was quickly able to pinpoint it as the same feeling I get when something in a relationship (romantic or platonic) is not right. In the past, I have most often discredited my own gut intuition, overridden my system, and convinced myself it’s “nothing.” What has typically played out is that soon after the pit-in-stomach feeling (usually the same day), the relationship dissolves, usually initiated by the other party.

So I sat with this knowledge and pondered its significance. It made me think of disruptors. In coaching, we talk of these in the sense of influencing positive change on habits. If, for example, you are able to interrupt a particular habit by pausing for a microsecond between the trigger and the behaviour, the pause allows for the potential for new neuronal pathways. This can, with practice and repetition, eventually forge new healthier behaviours.

And it was there and then in the moment, I decided to initiate my own disruptor. I decided to fire my therapist. And not only that, instead of looking to find a replacement therapist right away, I also decided to press pause on my healing journey.

I had managed to arrive at two significant conclusions: not only did I need to end the interaction with my therapist immediately, but furthermore, there was absolutely nothing wrong with me.

How I basked in the sense of relaxation that overcame me upon acknowledging this beautiful, essential truth. The truth that, yes, I’ve been faced with some difficult things, but in spite of that, I’m fine. I’m not sick. I’m not broken. I’m truly, deeply, and fundamentally, A-OK.

And I reflect further on other things I know to be deeply and fundamentally true. I am a person with a clear sense of right and wrong, who can adequately communicate and uphold boundaries. I am a person who has a range of people in my life, some of whom I’ve known a long time, who support me and hold me to account. I am a person who takes a healthy approach to self-improvement and personal development but also knows when it’s time to call it quits.

So last week when I encountered a difficult therapy session and my therapist told me I was “pretty sick,” rather than reacting in the way the “old me” might (absorbing this external knowledge as my own), I simply rejected it.

I’ve arrived at the conclusion that there is a time to work on yourself and then there is a time to take a break from that work. I would argue that knowing when to step away from the work is as equally important as the initiation itself.

Because there are times that no external validation is required. Sometimes our own inner knowing is enough.

Because sometimes the lesson is in the very acknowledgement that enough is enough.

Because sometimes the learning is in the walking away rather than the fixing. In the undoing rather than the doing itself.

And whilst there is richness in the growth and work, there is also value in pausing that work and saying: perhaps that’s enough for now. We can return, later, if we choose to, but for now, just for today, enough is enough.

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