Therapy is a complicated beast. I've had two different friends tell me, in the last 24 hours, that they've had it with therapy, that it's not for them. I've been going, on and off, for six years. In that time I've seen five different therapists. All along, I felt like I've been utterly upfront, 100% honest, blunt, articulate, intelligent - in short, the dream client. But of course, I am a nightmare: so persuasive, certainly believing my own bullshit and sometimes even managing to fool them. I finished with my first (lovely) therapist after several months, claiming that I wanted to try a different type of therapy since I'd already said it all but was still feeling really sad. I was fed up with focusing on my past, I explained, and wanted to get better fast. I left her for a CBT therapist, who I didn't like precisely because she refused to focus on my past. But I also met a guy, and went out with him for long enough to persuade myself that I was now complete and not depressed. Then we broke up and I went back into therapy, this time with a Human Givens therapist who was great. He retired after six months, and I felt a bit better. Then I got worse again and went to a new lady. Then I met a guy and got so excited that I stopped going again. Then the guy vanished and I went back. Then I moved house, out of my parents' home and into my current flat, and felt better. Then I felt nagged - not depressed, but certainly like there were issues bubbling. I found my lady this time a year ago.
And, over the months, we've talked about stuff I've NEVER talked about with the other four. I admitted things I'd never even said in my head. It wasn't that this therapist was profoundly better than the others, or that I suddenly felt more able to be truthful: I'd never felt embarrassed about anything with the other four. I'd never knowingly lied.
Therapy is as much about timing and chemistry as any other relationship. It takes commitment and luck. With this lady, for a random convergence of reasons, I was able to get to the nub of the gist. After six years of on-off therapy, I finally found my core, and - with the help of a lot of concurrent reading and thinking and hard work - I let a lot of stuff go, and now I'm a new Jane, still the same, recognisable and true, but utterly changed. And part of feeling more normal is an absolute awareness that I am likely to dip again. I may go on a hundred first dates, all of them rubbish. I may spend two years writing my MA book and then realise it's crap. Or perhaps I'll lose both my legs in a freak burger van accident at Glastonbury tomorrow night. I feel tremendously lucky that I will always have the option of returning to therapy, should I feel like I need it again, and to have the confidence that it'll probably help. For now, though, I want to go it alone. So I am. Going it. Alone.
My therapist doesn't disagree - she can see I'm changed. But she believes that there's more to discuss, and I don't think she's just doing it for the money. As I said in my earlier blog entry, I see her point too: there's definitely more I could say, every week forever. But I want to take this leap and see what happens, and she understands that. She's sad because therapy means something different for her. It's about a relationship. "Don't forget, though, that this isn't a relationship for me," I chastised her. "We're not equals. You know what's going on in your head and mine, but I only know one side of the story. Yes, it's an open agreement, and we've sat in a room together for an hour a week, and you've helped me a lot, you've changed my life, but all along, I've been paying you to sit there. That's like a guy persuading himself that he's in a good relationship because he's got a regular arrangement with a prostitute. Sure, I care what you think. I wish it were deeper than just me paying you to listen. We all want our therapists to like us, to think we're the best client ever, just like Jane and Michael want Mary Poppins to stay forever. We all want to be favourites. But we know it's not possible. I learned early on with my first therapist that there's no point asking questions. You can ask, but you won't get an answer, it'll waste time, and time is money. So we stick to the accepted topic: me.
"You wear a wedding ring but I don't know if your husband's alive or dead - or whether, perhaps, you wear it for show or to see if it makes me react a certain way. I've come to this house every week for a year but I don't know if it's yours or if you just rent this room to do your therapy. I don't know if you have kids. I don't know anything. You know more than most people ever will about me, and I know next to nothing about you. This is not a relationship." She looked at me and I thought she seemed sad. I tried to end on an upbeat note, and we smiled and joked, but when we said goodbye, I felt guilty. I touched her arm, almost maternally, as if to comfort her, and it was only once I was out on the street, where I'd been mugged several weeks before, that I felt able to be upset. I don't think it's that I'm running from the truth, or that I'm in denial about another few layers of misery: I feel free to go back to therapy at any time. I think it's just that I like her and she likes me, and that we both know we'll probably never see each other again, and that that is sad. I know it's time for me to move on. I cried, and then I stopped, and now I'm going to Glastonbury.