Recently, a dear patient of mine wrote me a heartfelt letter that she had framed for my office. With her permission, I am posting it here.
I am hoping she will be an inspiration to anyone who has ever wondered, “What’s the point of all of this talk-therapy?”.
And while she thanks me – I thank her. And all of the wonderful people who have trusted me to help them with their journeys through life…
Why Leave Therapy?
I have thought about the answer to this question and the main reason for me to leave therapy is because I know I can leave and have a good life. The main goal of my therapy was for me to be self-sufficient and handle my life with minimal anxiety. All the work I have done has come together and has fallen neatly into place to accomplish that goal. Of course, your voice plays in my head and I think it always will. The time we have spent together has been very valuable to me. We have worked hard to get me to a point in my life where I am not constantly anxious about everything. I am confident knowing you will always be here for me if I need you and that makes me less uneasy about leaving. I have come to realize the unconditional, consistent, stable, caring relationship you have given to me is something I deserve and now I will not accept anything less. Perhaps that is why I question how I relate to others and feel the need to adjust the unhealthy aspects of those relationships. Therapy has taught me many things; this is what I’ve learned:
- I’ve learned that talking things out helps put them into perspective and makes it easier for me to cope.
- I’ve learned, “it’s not all about me”. Other people’s issues have nothing to do with me.
- I’ve learned that I am “fucking awesome” and there are many people who love and respect me.
- I’ve learned to laugh at myself and find the humor in being human.
- I’ve learned I can have a healthy relationship with food. I can enjoy food, eat healthy, and be mindful of what I put into my body and I no longer need to use food to meet other needs.
- I’ve learned to ask for what I need and accept that people cannot always give me what I ask for, but that does not mean they do not love me or will abandon me.
- I’ve learned to nurture the relationships that are important to me and realize I cannot be everything to everyone.
- I’ve learned that dependency can be a good thing to teach me to trust others and allow them to help me.
- I’ve learned that disagreeing with someone does not mean they will reject or abandon me, and it is okay to sometimes agree to disagree.
- I’ve learned that true love is unconditional, and if someone puts conditions on their love, that love is not real.
- I’ve learned that my reactions to situations are normal and the times when my reactions are not in proportion with the situation, is because I did not take care of my needs.
- I’ve learned that the best defense mechanism is knowledge about myself.
- I’ve learned that I need to be aware when I am having “black and white thinking”, and look for the grey areas and integrate them into my thinking.
- I’ve learned that control can be a good thing as long as I can give it up, if necessary.
- I’ve learned that I can feel a full range of emotions and those feelings are all part of being human.
- I’ve learned that I don’t need to own everything that happened to me in my life and there are things that happened that are not my fault.
- I’ve learned that my parents did the best they could, from where they were at the time, and for the needs that were not met, my anger is acceptable and normal.
- I’ve learned that death is the end of a life, but it is not the end of a relationship. Those who are gone from my life continue to live on inside of me through thoughts and memories.
- I’ve learned that life is a journey and not a destination. I need to experience the best that my life’s journey has to offer to me and live it as I go along, because that final destination will come soon enough.
So I thank you for helping me build a new and better life for myself. I have grown to love and respect you for the nurturing relationship you have given to me, which has taught me to nurture myself. I now know that I need to be good to myself, be my own best friend, and love myself unconditionally and my gratitude for this enlightenment can never be fully expressed. For all these reasons, I feel I can put the learning part of my therapy experience behind me and move on with my graduate work.