Two weeks ago I went to therapy.
It was one of those sessions where things kind of fall into place. We have a few breakthroughs. The time passed quickly and it was time to make my always awkward exit. I stand and start towards the door, trying not to trip over my own feet. He asked if I had another session scheduled. Alarm bell. I said I did and then he said the words that sent an electric shock through me, didn’t anyone tell you I am retiring? I could feel two things in this moment. Blind rage and immense sadness. I bit my lip so hard I tasted metal in my mouth. I fought tears back, attempted a maimed smile and congratulated him. I wanted to strike him, honestly.
I stormed out the door and into the bathroom where I allowed myself 30 seconds to completely fall apart. I dropped to the floor and belted out sobs that I am sure the bank teller next door could hear. I choked on tears and stomped my feet, swore at God. I stood up and will a tear stained face exited the building directly into Matt’s mom’s arms where I cried as quietly as I could.
For two weeks I dreaded that final appointment. Each time I let my mind wander to what I would say I had a complete visceral reaction. I talked it over with Matt and my family. I decided I was going to walk in there and say Walter, I don’t want to talk today, there is no point as I will no longer see you, please give me a referral and I will be done here.
Of course that is the farthest thing from what happened.
I arrived at the office and paid my bill. The receptionist is so pleasant so as much as I wanted to be angry I couldn’t. I sat and waited, wanting to rip the pictures off the wall, smash the glass case containing some weird momento, wanting to run around barking in circles. Instead, I sat down and waited.
He came out to get me. I sat down awkwardly, refused to take my jacket off. Refused to put my purse down. He asked me how I was doing and instead of saying Walter… I said fine. He asked if I was grumpy and I wanted to spring on him like a ravenous lion, take a bite from his neck. Instead I said, I feel, sad and angry. How he responded melted away all of the anger I had felt. He apologized. I too, apologized for reasons unknown to me. He told me not too and that he too, had feelings about not seeing me anymore. He said you connect with some patients and he had with me, that we had been making headway and he didn’t want to see that end. I told him I wanted to storm in and be angry with him and he said that was a normal reaction, but also that sadness was more revealing than anger. So I gave that to him as my first parting gift, I let myself feel sad, I cried buckets of tears and when I was able to make eye contact with him I saw tears in his. I let him see how badly this hurt. I told him that I taught myself at a young age that all good things end so never over invest and that I clearly over invested in this endeavour. I told him that it is hard to not have somewhere that you can really be truly, you. I told him I would miss that.
He told me I was a unique case and he was sorry that he couldn’t continue to treat me. I was trapped in a paradox of wanting the session to end and the session to go on forever. I wanted to stay nestled in that place where I felt so safe, so free. Towards the end of the session he said something to me that rocked me, and will remain one of those moments in my life that I reflect back to and feel my knees become weak each and every time I visit it. He looked me square in the face and said that I need to be my own warrior. I choked on my own breath and asked if he had read my blog, after he said no, I said the name of my blog was Meniere’s Warrior and he smiled and don’t remember exactly what he said because my heart was beating so quickly in my ears it was all I could hear. Circumstance brought us together and circumstance pulled us apart, but somehow he knew that is what I needed to hear in that moment when I felt so broken and abandoned.
He told me I had tenacity. Tenacious has two definitions:
1. not easily pulled apart
2. persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired
I weep now reading those definitions, as people often describe you with adjectives that you think little about, but this one means something. Walter knew a great deal about the deepest part of my soul and clearly saw the warrior in me. A complete stranger to me just over a month ago peeled back the layers of my skin and saw something inside of me that it took me twenty years and more to see. That I am not easily pulled apart by my circumstance. While nine times out of ten I feel as though I am pulled apart, eviscerated, I am not.
Walter asked me to befriend my Meniere’s. Could Jesus Christ befriend Pontius Pilate? The easy answer is no, but the difficult and probably correct one is yes. We all have to forgive those who hurt us the most, those who kill us, drain us. My second parting gift to Walter is to work on this. Work on allowing my warrior to befriend the monster inside of me. I will do it for Walter because he woke me up. An unbiased stranger made me truly realize the warrior within me. My tenacious warrior.