Termination: Five Scenarios
When her therapist suggested after seven years of therapy that they had accomplished what they set out to do and it was time to consider terminating their relationship, Sandy was at first shocked, then frightened. She wasn't at all certain that every one of the different women she felt active within her psyche would agree it was time to end therapy. However, after many hours of discussion, she and he reached consensus, and termination, slow and painful, but mutually agreeable and ultimately satisfactory, had occurred. Still for weeks after the last session, she felt an aching emptiness every Wednesday at noon. She resisted the urge to distract herself with some pleasant diversion and learned to sit with the pain when it occurred, until after a few months it finally receded. Now Sandy thinks of her therapist only ten or twenty times a day instead of once a minute. Sometimes she fantasizes a family situation that would make returning to therapy imperative, but remembering how painful the weaning process was, she ends up being grateful there is no such situation.
Just because Sandy terminated therapy with one therapist didn't mean she quit therapy entirely. It took her six weeks to find another male therapist, but she did. One who responded to her dissociative states and sexual vulnerability with an alacrity that at first surprised, then pleased her. Sandy sees him as often as three times a week, twice for sex and once for talk. When her husband complains about the cost, she says the current therapist has his hands full treating the depression caused by termination of her previous therapy, so now's probably not a good time to cut back.
However, looking ahead, she can predict how this therapeutic relationship will end. Sooner or later they will be discovered-she may tell all to a horrified friend who will find it her duty to report him, or his partner may break protocol by unlocking the locked door and finding them in flagrante delicto or, well, any number of things. So Sandy will have to get a divorce, and she and he will move to northern California where it will take them five years or so to squander her settlement. Then he will leave her for a younger woman, also sexually needy, and she will attempt suicide, an act she will fully intend him to prevent, but unfortunately his cell phone will be low on battery power, and he will never receive her message, and she will die. As eventually will he.
When they mutually agreed it was time to terminate her therapy, at least he pretended it was mutual, although if it had been totally her decision, Sandy would have sat more or less happily on the opposite couch exchanging stories until one or both of them moved or died, she decided it was time to terminate the reflective life as well. After all, she couldn't really say that it had made any long-term difference in her behavior. So she gave up everything he taught her-self-hypnosis, journaling, recording her dreams-she hardly remembered any of them any more anyway-using a pendulum, meditating, retreats-in fact she spends almost no time in solitude now. Instead she is with friends or her husband every moment of the day. They read each other choice bits of the newspaper over breakfast and laugh at the same lame jokes on late night TV. Of course without solitude, Sandy can no longer write, but whether or not writing with its inevitable rejection had ever made her really happy was problematic anyway. When she misses it just a teeny bit, she sits down and writes a newsy letter to her parents and feels much better.
Sandy was angry and hurt when he ended therapy and she wanted to hurt him. She mailed him Hieronymus Bosch postcards, anonymously, of course, no message either, just a smear of something that might or might not have been blood. She put him on mailing lists for preplanned funerals, dating clubs, and cheese of the month. She spammed him. But eventually her anger faltered, and the depression which had been hovering nearby descended. Within a month she no longer got out of bed. Worried, her husband arranged an appointment with a female analyst she had once favorably mentioned. After a few visits, this wise woman, while condemning the sins of male therapists, restored Sandy's faith in her own strength. Sandy began to write again, and she and her husband and the female analyst plan to live happily ever after.
Wild-eyed and unkempt, dressed in dirty sweats and shoes with no laces, Sandy haunted her therapist's building, waylaying clients in the hall outside his office, insisting they look at her and realize what they might become if they continued seeking help from him. Finally he got an injunction to prevent her from harassing his clients, so she picketed in the parking lot. When barred from the parking lot on the grounds that it too was private property, she marched in the street in front of the building. Eventually the building management had to ask him to leave as this wreck of a woman was bad for business. Driving past his former building one day he saw her collapse at the side of the road still wearing her sweats although the temperature and the humidity were both 90. Rushing to her side, he was just in time to receive her forgiveness before she died. Full of remorse, he quit his practice, left his family, shaved his head, and became a Buddhist monk.
A, B, C, D, or E? You choose.