Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Shirley and Lilly and Fourteen Others



I.

"I felt an emotion today."

"Tell me about it."

"It was sadness."

"Because I'm leaving?"

"Yes.....It was a real emotion....I don't feel too many emotions but I felt this one."

"I feel sad too," I say. "But we will take some time to look back and look ahead and make sure that we know we will always care about one another before we have to say goodbye." "And," I add, because I want to tie all that caring into the future, "I will always think of you and carry you in my heart."

Shirley just turned eighteen and I've been her therapist for five years. All this time she's been  in a special school and for all five years we've been working on her pausing before she impulsively throws a chair or a cell phone when she is frustrated or provoked. 

II.

I have begun the process of saying goodbye to my clients. I will leave in mid May and when I count that I will only have four more sessions with Shirley or five more sessions with John I too am sad. 

III.

"I don't want to do this anymore. He told me he'll kill me and my little niece and nephew if I break up with him.'

"What???" I know this boyfriend is bad but I am shocked by this. 

"Are you sure this time? You won't sneak back?" I ask.

"Yes, I'm sure. He says I have to do everything he tells me, that it's my fault if I don't listen to him and he gets mad. He yells at me all the time and we never do anything. And he gets physical. He squeezed my arms and left bruises."

"Are you afraid of him?"

"A little, I think my Mom needs to get a restraining order."

"So are you ready to talk to her about it? Can we talk to her now?"

"Yes."

Oh thank God, finally. Lily is sixteen and her first boyfriend is scary horrible: jealous, demanding, controlling and escalatingly abusive. She can't say why she's put up with this for nine months. We go inside. Her mother, her sister-in-law, a friend, myself--we are all talking at the same time. We talk about what to expect and how to stay safe. Her mother calls the police. She will get the restraining order.

"I'd like to know this is settled and you are back to being a regular 16 old kid before I leave."

I don't mean leave today. I mean I will LEAVE for good. This is a kid I will miss like crazy. She is wildly impulsive and when she is herself she is also light and silly. 

IV.

How will I say goodbye to my clients? I won't be their therapist any longer, I am not their friend, we are not related. Protocol says I should lean toward saying a permanent and final goodbye. They need to move on. They need to bond with a new therapist, need to know they have the skills and character to let what we've accomplished together be a glue for self care and insight and the pursuit of happiness. The need to know I believe in them.

They and I will carry one another in our hearts. 

Today was a sad day for me too. There will be more by the time mid May rolls around. 

And I and hopefully they will be the better for it.

We are going to learn how to positively say goodbye.

Love 
kj


57 comments:

  1. And you will carry one another in your hearts. And that can/will be wonderful.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!
    Bears Noting

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks rob. Proof that our hearts stretch. And if they stretch, doesn't that mean they can bounce instead of break?

      Nice to have you back

      Love
      kj

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Hello Kaivi, thank you for stopping by. Welcome

      Love
      kj

      Delete
  3. Oh Karen, I know how difficult this is. I love knowing how much you care. And worry. Oh these milestones in life; there can be no new beginning without an ending. I truly identify with your statement of positive endings....all one learns along the journey. I am filled with JoY for your new beginnings and adventures. My grandmother's china cabinet is awaiting a yellow rose teacup. **blows kisses** Deb

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much, deb. so often endings end badly. To move away from that belief is something precious to know, to be open to. I know you know this so graciously xoxo

      The yellow rose china cup will find its way to you. That makes me happy

      Love

      Delete
  4. Positively say goodbye. Great ending. Positively final, and positively positive.

    "...and you learn, you learn
    with every goodbye, you learn..."

    ReplyDelete
  5. If you are as smart as i think you are, you will do your job to the very last moment with the very last client in the same manner as you always have. You will walk out the door, take a deep breath as you walk to your car, you will start your car and drive off to a different pace of life. There will be nothing to regret, even for them not ready to let you go, because you have done all you could and in doing all you could you can do more. The torch is passed, your portion in the relay is done, you can now return your breathing to normal.

    You will go to dinner to celebrate the end of one moment and the beginning of another, you will sleep and then wake and your new schedule will gradually take over. There will be memory of moments, scenes of time but they will be passing away to make room for more.

    And that my friend is how GOOD byes are accomplished.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah mark, I've now read this a dozen times.

      Thank you. I will hold your words close

      Love
      kj

      Delete
  6. These goodbyes are the worst. My therapist of ten years retired a few months ago, and I miss her terribly, and am not bonding with my new therapist. I can only hope your kids get a compassionate therapist like you down the road. It must be very hard leaving them after so long.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not just kids, Barbara. Many adults. Many already with challenges around abandonment. And yet five years is a reasonable time to have been there, for a therapist

      I hope in time you will be comfortable with your new therapist . If not, find another . Comfort and trust are the glues that make it all work

      Love
      kj

      Delete
  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I always found leaving a place where I've been a therapist difficult because of those goodbyes. And yet, they are important and can be opportunities for growth.

    ReplyDelete
  9. You have such heart. Such heart and I love you for this.

    I so want you two to come to Maine this August. Any chance?

    Love, love,

    S

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh dear KJ, what a sad time for you and them, although practical and correct by all means. I felt none of this when I walked away from teaching- but then it was different in many ways... Keep strong and as I always say 'If only one of the kids remember me and achieve something good in their lives, then I did GOOD!'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi joss, I think part of this is that clients know their therapist is 'there' in a crisis. And they have the wonderful sense of being 'known'

      Really I hate to leave, even as excitement ahead nips at my heels

      Love
      kj

      Delete
  11. The process of good-byes, no matter how wise and loving, is often a grief necessary to build into our future. Life is fraught aint it? So often, wonderful and awful all at the same time. You are a wonderful counselor - you will be missed.by your clients, but they will be okay because you are doing it right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kay, the more I live, the more I admit how HARD life can be. And for many, unfair. I admit this reluctantly .

      Wonderful and awful. Yes. And thank god for the wonderful

      Love
      kj

      Delete
  12. yes a sad goodbye for all concerned. yet so much learning about the heart here. i hope the future is bright for them and for you. you have done good work with them. they will be stronger for it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. wow. this only underscores the importance of the work you do - how you become deeply intertwined in the lives of these people who need you - your help, your guidance, your loving ear. your tough love. and now to let go.

    how strong you are. i would have so much trouble doing this. but yet, you are right - it's a little like being a parent. you have done your job and now it's time for them to take those tools out into the world.

    but you can still cry. and miss them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amanda, in a way the hardest is choosing myself and having to explain that. At first I didn't share with my clients why I am leaving, but I've learned quickly they need to know

      Wishing you an awesome trip xoxo

      Love
      kj

      Delete
  14. kj,
    I would like to wish you well, as you leave your work, in mid May - your caring, and committment to your clients shines through in this post.
    It sounds as though you are working towards well said goodbyes, and that you also believe in your clients' resilience.
    Hugs,
    Brenda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All true, Brenda. Thank you

      Love
      kj

      Delete
  15. Kj, Saying good bye and letting go is hard, no doubt about it, it is also something we all have to do so we can move on into our new and bright future. You have done your job well and your clients will carry you in their hearts and remember you for always. Hugs, xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hate goodbyes, Annie. Always have.

      Probably always will.

      I don't shy away from change, but I'm no fan of it. In all my life there are probably a few people who I could care less about. Most, I still remember

      Love
      kj

      Delete
  16. I think back to the people who have had a positive impact on me ... who've taught me the value of things ... and mostly the value of myself. A whole host of people taught me those things. For your clients I suspect they will remember one outstanding person who taught them a lot about valuing themselves. It's hard to say goodbye and no matter how carefully you define the boundaries sometimes your heart doesn't quite stick to the program!

    KJ, thank you for the comment on my blog. I too often think of you as I sit with my own Mum. She knows who I am ... and then sometimes she thinks maybe I am my great aunt Clare (long dead). I am happy to be recognised as someone she loves. It is good enough and especially as I see her eyes light up just that little bit. The palliative team have said it is probably a matter of days now. I hope your Mom is comfortable, and you know what? I bet Betty would love it that your Mom thinks you might be her. Love recognises love regardless of the person attached. Heart speaks to heart. Much love to you KJ as we walk this path together. xx Jos

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jos, aunt Betty is long dead too :-)

      No doubt we both understand. I am always glad we walk together, jos . Funny that we are able to do that, but yes we do xoxo

      I pray for your Mother's journey to life after life. I hope she will be escorted on the wings of a senior angel

      Love always
      kj

      Delete
  17. oh kj.. this is such a trying time... all the best.. hugs... dont have anything more to add...

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have left two therapy jobs and saying goodbye was so difficult each time. Its not a friendship as you say but it is a really priviledged and special thing.

    ReplyDelete
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