Why I Need to Leave My Therapist of 22 Years
There isn’t an instruction manual for therapy. There are guidelines, true, but when you start talking matters of the heart and soul, sometimes those guidelines don’t speak the same language. I mean, therapy requires vulnerability which, if you have a childhood trauma history, might feel unsafe — like there is danger in authenticity. After all, we were taught that saying it hurts. We were taught to accept what was given and keep our mouths shut.
So when you form a connection with someone, it’s hard to see there might be better. It’s even harder to think that better might be available to you. Sure, other people get to have certain privileges with their therapists, but that would never be an option that would apply to you, right? But what if it could?
I have dissociative identity disorder (DID) and I’ve been seeing my therapist for longer than I haven’t. I’ve been in therapy with him for the last 22 years. Tomorrow, I will sit down in his office and tell him we are ready to see someone else. It isn’t that I dislike him; it’s that, really, I’ve outgrown him. He was what I needed 22 years ago, but it’s been a couple of years since it felt like we meshed super well. But, “we were taught to accept what was given and keep our mouths shut,” so that’s what we did. We figured this was as good as we would ever get. We considered ourselves lucky to even have someone willing to work with us since so many people do not.
But as I grew through support groups and made friends, I realized he hadn’t grown with me.
His ideas were the same with each new obstacle.
His interventions were the same as they had always been.
About three years ago, he suggested we do eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) to help with childhood sexual abuse memories, but said he didn’t feel qualified to do it with us himself. We balked and shut down the idea of seeing someone different for nearly two years and then had a hard time finding someone to work with us when we did go in search of someone who would be willing to work with us.
Well, five months ago, we met an EMDR therapist who was willing to work with us and allow us to see our therapist as well. And we started to see things and were offered attention we have never been offered before. We were afraid of it because we were certain that if we accepted her attention, it would be taken from us. That’s what had always happened before, so why would now be any different?
But it has been different. Each time we have stepped out of our comfort zone and accepted her extended hand, it’s not been taken back. She is solution-oriented and knowledgeable and formed an attachment with the insiders (alters) very quickly, something our current therapist has yet to be able to do with a couple of key players in this system. She has made us feel important in a very short amount of time. She has rolled with every punch and obstacle with grace and has collaboratively problem solved every obstacle.
So last Monday, when our therapist said “I don’t know” about a very important question from a young 5-year-old alter, and the little guy said he didn’t like when our therapist says that and he says it too much, it clicked — we just don’t match anymore. We’ve outgrown him.
He just doesn’t know enough about DID to continue to treat us.
And despite how it feels to us, we deserve someone who does.
Photo by Pavel Chusovitin on Unsplash