Therapist sent me an email today. Part of the email was this sentence, "What I want you to know is that you have inspired me with the work you've put into your life / happiness."
It's funny, when I first met Therapist I knew he would help me-- not in the cookie cutter, do-these-therapy-assigments, take these steps then you'll be better, kind of way-- but he would help me by allowing me to figure things out for myself. He would, within reason, allow me to have control over the course my therapy would take. He would let me be the person I am while allowing me to become the person I needed to be. I knew this. I wasn't wrong.
Therapist would challenge me when I was wrong, empathize when I was sad, and encourage me as I sought unconventional ways to find answers and peace. He welcomed the people I brought with me and helped them understand the best ways to support me. I have been working with Therapist for many, many years-- probably too many. I think most people would have gotten tired long before I did, or been satisfied with results before I was. I think Therapist was frustrated with me much of the time as I asked the same questions, wept repeatedly about the same problems, and laughed at him when he suggested things he thought would be helpful. But even when I laughed, I still considered his suggestions and often I tried them, as well. Because he was Therapist and I knew he would help me.
I find myself, years later, finally able to do some of the assignments he asked me to do. Better late than never? It's just that I was too afraid when he asked. I needed to be more brave and more strong and more ME. But I didn't forget. I remember most of what we've discussed. I don't know how to forget.
I've known Therapist a little bit longer than I've known Tolkien Boy and not quite as long as I've known Josh and AtP. Tolkien Boy and AtP have accompanied me to therapy sessions. Tolkien Boy has joined me in a few. AtP has patiently waited for me in the lobby. One time Therapist asked me how I could doubt that the people in my life care about me. I said I didn't doubt it. I just didn't trust them. Therapist said you can trust people who go to therapy with you and wait until you're done-- the ones who know you'll be an emotional mess after the session, and who will stay with you anyway. I still didn't trust them, but I believed Therapist and I worked on learning how to trust. Sometimes, in recent years, I've almost felt that I could do that trust thing for a few seconds at a time.
Therapist says he learns from me when I come. I'm pretty sure what he learns is that I'm stubborn and aggravating and arguing with me is destined to end up with both of us giggling. I think he also learns that not everyone fits into a mold, and some of us refuse to fit simply because we're willful and spiteful. And he learns that even if I don't know who I am, or how to feel, or what to say, I'll still smile at him and say something that will make him smile back, because if I'm going to spend that much time and money just to talk with someone, we need to like each other.
One time Therapist told me that I've made him rethink a number of beliefs he's held about several different things. I told him he's done the same thing for me. He said, "Well, that's my job." I said, "Yes. Good thing you do it so well." He told me I was a good person. I told him he was, too. He said, "I'm really glad things didn't work out with your other therapists and that you decided having a male therapist would be okay." I said, "I am of the opinion that no one should stop therapist-shopping until they have found just the right fit." He agreed.
Therapist is my friend. This means that we have seen each other very often for a period of time, shared thoughts and ideas, and spent time together. And now it's time for us to not be together as often, not talk as frequently, and learn to live independently of each other. Well, that last part pertains only to me, but I like to think Therapist will miss me. I'm glad he thought of me today and that he told me so when he sent me an email. I don't really care about inspiring him, but it's nice to know I'm not forgotten.