Sad and Hard, Hard and Sad

I did one of the hardest things I’ve ever done on March 23, 2016.  I had my last appointment with Joseph, my therapist of twenty years.    I’ve been blessed with insurance companies that have paid for my therapy and continue to do so.  With as many diagnoses as I have, even they acknowledge therapy is a necessity, not a luxury.

I knew it was my last appointment with him.  Yeah—a him.  I never thought I would see a male therapist.  Wasn’t it men who abused me?  And even the good men I know—and I know many—don’t want to talk about personal things.  When I do talk about painful truths, I get some very negative responses.

Seeing a male therapist has really helped me.  How could I remain a female chauvinist pig when I was spending an hour each week, not including numerous phone calls, in emotional intimacy with a man?  When I was telling him everything and not being judged?  When he accepted how and where I was and didn’t use power over me, but empowered me?  When he was always there for me?  When my life was changing in amazing ways?  I couldn’t.  Not anymore.

He’s turning seventy and retiring.  He certainly deserves to retire.  He’s worked hard and helped hundreds of people over these many years.  I’m happy for him.  And sad for me.  More sad than I know how to express.  I haven’t written any poems about it, which is what I normally do about upsetting occurrences.   But none are coming.  I think the poems are frozen inside me, frozen in the burning heat of grief.  I don’t know when or if they will become accessible to me.  There’s so much inside me that still isn’t accessible.

I’m glad I haven’t gone numb.  It’s happened before.  I want to feel my feelings.  Sadness, anger, joy, contentment.  My intense grief that my therapy relationship has ended.    I walked into his office crying that day and left crying even harder.

People have told me that surviving the abuse will help me survive this too.  But enduring something traumatizing, terrifying, and degrading isn’t the same as losing one of the best things that ever happened to me.

I have a new therapist now.  I’ve been seeing her for about three months and I like her.  A lot.  She’s helping me with the grief from the end of my first therapy relationship.  She’s really good.  But that doesn’t stop me from missing my old therapist.

Dr. Seuss says not to cry because it’s over, but to smile because it happened.  I do smile through my tears when I remember so many breakthroughs and realizations.   I haven’t been living up to the first part of the quote, haven’t even been trying.  Crying is important and healthy.  I’ve also been writing unsent letters to him in my journal when I want to tell him how much I miss him or some other important or trivial thing.

It’s getting better, six weeks later.  I don’t cry quite so many times a day.  Sometimes I go a whole day without crying.   There’s so much to remember.  Twenty years worth.  I don’t think I’ll cry over this for the rest of my life.  But I will remember and care the rest of my life.


Now I’m Not

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by Leslie Wells


I was mute when we met.

I’d lost my words somewhere.

I hadn’t had them for a long time,

didn’t know where they’d gone.


But you saw a letter stuck to the bottom

of my shoe.

You peeled it off and placed it on

my tongue.


It dissolved into dictionaries

full of words I could say.

But how to pick the

right words?


The words that meant what was

waiting to be spoken.


You helped turn the pages,

go through

all the tables and charts,

flip through the letters,

even Q, X, and Z, til

we found the words

that said the truth.


Then your face and eyes

and gentle voice

helped me remember how

to speak, what to say.

So many memories and thoughts

and feelings came rushing out

of me.


I was mute when we met.

Now I’m not.