I can only speak for myself…so that is what I intend to do. Yes. Depending on the length and quality of the relationship I have had with a particular couple or person I may miss them a great deal. Even if I have only known them a short time they may have made an impression on me that I will carry with me into my future. I believe it truly depends on whether or not I have learned something from them. Has our long or short time together been a learning experience for me as well as for them? I have learned some of the most profound and amazing lessons from patients over the years. I have learned that the really bad stuff that happens to people may never go away but has the chance of slowly fading and becoming less toxic. I have learned that the love of a child can cause adults to do extraordinary things and how long term friendships can make the difference between healing and madness. One person taught me (without really knowing it until the end- when I told them after a long and hard working therapeutic relationship) how to live with the heaviest burdens and still have a twinkle in their eye. I have been reminded that every 3-5 people I work with are desperate and wildly trying how to not waste their life. I miss them. I miss the teens – I wonder how they grew up and who they love now; Whatever happened to the kid that had to move away and cried and grabbed my legs when we had our last session. I miss her, too.
When someone leaves without any advance warning I am surprised and marvel at how easy it seems to them and I have to remind myself that I am just their “therapist” and they can always find another and that I have just been yet another person along their way. They walk down the hallway from my office and silently think to myself “goodbye” person. ”Goodbye” and I will remember you with all of your peculiarities and lovely human qualities that you have only showed to me. I wonder if they ever think of me and if they ever miss me. For all of you therapists ( and would have been therapists) I know you are screaming to yourself right now “Wow! Countertransference galore” but you see-I’m just not that kind of person or clinician. I know all of the things I am supposed to and I have very special reasons why I dismiss them or cling to them. I am trained as a humanist but you see…I was born one , so I am just being me.
Sometimes I do not miss people or couples who have been very difficult. It is not so much the level of difficulty but whether or not they were working as hard as they could on themselves-even if it seemed slight compared to others. Did they try? Did they? Then I probably miss them. It is hard to show yourself to another human being. It is not an easy task to stand metaphorically naked in front of another person and show them all of your presumed ugliness and shame. Yep. That’s hard to do and I respect that. It is hard to do.
For all of you reading this or wondering if I do or will miss you–the answer is most likely …”yes”. I miss the person who tries and never gives up. You have left a whisper, an echo, it is forever indelible on my heart.