This time last year, I was freaking out. Four days into Ms. Analyst's winter break, and I was counting the seconds until she returned. Going from three days of analytical bliss a week to zero - for two weeks in a row - was a sleepless demon that required constant taming.
Missing your therapist - a LOT - during the break is definitely a common thing. I've often heard August and December called "The Saddest Months of the Year" since taking the last two weeks of them off is pretty much de riguer among mental health pros. And more than once for me, getting through that span of time felt like crossing a vast desert. It can be lonely without your therapist, even if you're surrounded by people who love you, and life is busy.
When that longing would come on - for the relief and release and risk and recovery of the session room - the summer or winter breaks of Ms. Analyst could feel agonizing.
Missing the dynamic, and that time, and everything that comes with it is particularly difficult because this person is so different from all the others in your life. You shouldn't call your therapist during the break to say "Hi" and ask them if the water's warm at the beach. But you sure may wonder where they are, and if they're OK.
And all the while, the thoughts build up in your head. After two weeks, I might have a year's worth of mental events and real-world action to debrief Ms. Analyst on. And God forbid there was a breach by her in the final session, or something deeply unresolved for me to gnaw nervously on - that vacation could be a loooooooong one.
But over this particular winter break, as I head into my third full year of seeing Ms. Analyst, this script has magically been flipped. In early December of this year, I had declared to her, in all certainty, that our work was complete. She declared back - with even more certainty - that it was not. We went over the situation intensively. I considered her perspective and decided I would stay in analysis, and that we should forge ahead.
After you survive a breakaway attempt like that, things can change. A big part of the reason I tried to terminate (I call it "disembarking", actually - sounds so much less grim) was my growing confusion over whether I still belonged in analysis. Ms. Analyst pulled me back in with my respect for her professional experience, but in the wake of my attempted departure was a newfound, unexpected strength:
Once you're truly willing to leave for good, making it through the break is cake.
In fact, this winter break has felt bizarre in a totally different way. Not only do I not miss Ms. Analyst, I wish she would stay on vacation for another week. I'm getting a lot of extra work done not hauling over to analysis in three working days out of five. I'm seeing more of my family. It feels like I have more time for everything that I'm sure I need to do, and I'm glad not to be spending it on something whose purpose is currently shrouded in mystery for me.
How is your therapist's break treating you this holiday season? Has the way you dealt with it evolved along with you? Are you skipping merrily along -- or marking the minutes until you're back to your psych fix? After everything that happens in session, we can learn the most about our journey from the times we have to pull over to the side of the road. - Mr. Analysand