A longer letter to my therapist than I had planned…

I couldn’t resist the temptation of writing to you while I enjoy my sweetened Italian coffee. Italian beans and an Italian coffee maker. It’s a treat I rarely get to enjoy because of my sleeping habits, since I know I shouldn’t have strong coffee too late in a day.

In my morning daydreams we are friends instead of therapist and patient and that means I can call you any time. I call you and you pick up and we say hello. I wish you a happy Sunday. I ask you what you’ll be doing today and you ask me the same. I tell you how good my warm coffee tastes and ask you if you’ve had your morning coffee yet. I tell you that I’m going to a company social event this afternoon where about 50 financial advisors from all over the country are meeting at a brewery as a precursor to their three-day conference. My co-worker who is also my financial advisor is picking me up so that I can have a beer and not have to drive. I assume his wife doesn’t mind because it’s business and we have a purely professional relationship. Whereas another financial advisor I work for who is much older when I suggested he take me out for a drink said his wife would have a fit. It’s interesting how the cultures of different generations are, but also that is telling of the person’s relationship with their spouse.

Okay, so that’s all true it’s not a part of my day dream. You listen and respond attentively to my story. It’s just like in our sessions except it’s over the phone for a ten minute phone call, not 50 minutes. Then I could imagine other conversation happening but eventually I say bye and we hang up the phone. I didn’t have to have a reason to call you. I called you just because I felt like it. And I was able to connect with you which feeds my soul and gives me happiness and energy for the day.

I think that’s a very nice dream to imagine. I actually talk to you all the time. When I’m not actually writing you an email I’m sometimes thinking about what I would say to you even if I don’t get around to writing it.

I feel at peace right now. I decided to get out of bed. Yesterday I decided to not get out of bed and I spent the entire day, yes, all of it day and night, in bed in the dark mostly sleeping. For the few hours during which I was awake and just laying there I allowed myself to think about a lot of things. I thought about how much I used to hurt emotionally, overwhelmingly, and how I had difficulty expressing that to you during our sessions. And how I no longer hurt. The severe emotional pain lasted many years. I think it was always there, from the moment the abuse started, but I kept it repressed and tried to live that dual life of the perfect wife and the sexually abused prostitute and how I kept those identities separate and how much it killed me inside until the pain bubbled up to the surface and I could no longer pretend I wasn’t in pain and that I needed it to stop.

I think of all the hospital stays and the time I was kept in a mental ER holding place near my mom’s house two Decembers ago and how I called you from the patient phone and you picked up because you didn’t know who it was and I told you as I have in the past that they were holding me there against my will. I don’t remember what you said, it was just grounding amid the rest of the chaos of the night to be able to hear your voice and connect with you.

I remember the times I couldn’t utter a single word sitting across from you on the couch and I would motion for you to give me a pen and paper and all I could write was, I hurt. I hurt. The pain was insurmountable.

I remember how I used to be scared of going out at night, or sometimes out of my apartment at all, even during the day. I remember how you were always kind and understanding with me but that you placed boundaries like not supporting me when I was banging my head against the hard wall. You said you don’t support it, that it’s not okay, that this is a place for healing not hurting oneself and you walked out of the room.

I know that every session for a long while I would tell you I wanted to kill myself and you told me that all of us must eventually die, that it’s inevitable, and that I had promised to write you a handwritten letter one day when I am completely healed, perhaps when I have children of my own. Who knows when that will be. I have so many decades ahead of me.

I know when I first started seeing you I didn’t tell you much of anything about what I didn’t even consider to be an abusive relationship and we mostly talked about my anger toward my mother.

You have always been there for me. It took going to several therapists in order to find you by chance. But it cannot have been an accident that we met. Because, maybe, it was meant to happen. While I was laying in bed yesterday evening, my feet playing with each other back and forth like I usually do, I was thinking how things could have been different. I could have not moved in with my boyfriend before the end of college. I would have stayed in Davis and gone to graduate school and I would now be teaching Italian at a high school, and I would love my students and my job. I would be married with young children and I would have reconciled sooner in life with my mom because she would have been a grandma and I would have actually needed her. I would have let go of my anger. I would barely sleep because of little children crying at night and I would have not fallen into a deep depression and I would only be taking vitamin supplements instead of a cocktail of psychotropic medications. I might know nothing of the world of therapy, or I would have found another therapist like the one I had on campus when I was in college, but I certainly wouldn’t aspire to do what you do because I would have been happy with what I was doing. Maybe I would have worked in marketing at a company using my creative side and like one of my high school friends I would already be at the mature level of management, because I would have grown professionally.

None of that did happen. But it could have if things had been different. If I had had less anger with my mom and not felt the need to run away from one controlling person to another. Because we repeat patterns. I simulated that which was the only thing I knew. If my dad had not died I would have had a strong male role model in my life and not felt the need to gravitate to a man so strongly and needily at such a young age. If my dad had not been born with a hole in his heart he wouldn’t have developed such a charming personality to compensate for his inability to keep up physically and my mom wouldn’t have been charmed by him and fallen in love and then my brother and I wouldn’t have been born. Had he grown up in England instead of in South Africa during apartheid he wouldn’t have felt the need to leave and he never would have lived in Switzerland and have come to America. Had he been born in a later era surgery on his heart would have been commonplace and his mother wouldn’t have had to fight so hard to keep his weak body alive. Had my mom’s father stayed in India I would be Indian and speak Hindi fluently and not know anything about cultures around the world.

Had you remained a farmer I would have never met you. Had you not moved to this city and developed your practice I would have never met you. Had you not worked with little Tina in that early learning environment you may not have pursued the field of psychology and marriage and family therapy. Had you not joined the group practice I might never have found you.

You already know you mean so much to me. You help me to stay balanced and to live my life. You have taught me about the power of emotions. You have helped me through what will always be the darkest period of my life. Nothing in my life will ever be that hard. You have helped me to realize that I am strong and that the fact that I exist makes a difference in this world and that making a difference can be as little or big as giving a fellow human being a smile. You have helped me increase my self worth so that I know I am important not only to you but to a lot of people, that I am valued and that I have the ability to create and direct my own life and that I don’t need others to tell me what to do. Through you I have grown up, matured, from a girl into a woman. I am me and I am glad for it. Thank you for helping me.

Now my coffee is long gone and it’s an hour and a half later and I feel good about myself because I expressed myself emotionally through words and I can carry this with me throughout the day, still imagining what I’d say to you about my day, but also becoming immersed in my day to where I don’t actually think of you at all.


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