"How's it going?" That's what people keep asking me about Life After Therapy. Good question.
When I was in therapy with Ms. Analyst, and for a big part of my analysis (1.5 years of the former, 2.5 years of the latter), it was hard to imagine that I would ever again be a "civilian" again. But here I sit on the outside - my last session was months ago. I told Ms. Analyst at the beginning of March that I was ready to disembark: four weeks and 12 sessions later I did just that.
Now it's been a solid five months since I left the dyad. So what's it like? Did I make the right choice?
Beyond responding with an emphatic "Yes", to that question, it's not so easy to answer. There's so much to talk about, I barely know where to begin. So I'll take advantage of a recent post where one of my readers neatly tied up a lot of queries in a nice little bow. This is what they asked in a comment:
"What's life like after analysis? What are you doing with the extra time and money, specifically? How are you actually putting your analysis to work in your life, now? Has it changed your work life? Sex life? Family life?"
NOW I've got a starting point -a bunch of ‘em really.
"What's Life Like After Analysis?" WOW. As in what a big question, and as in life is kind of WOW. After years of being able to balance my frictions, frustrations, fantasies and findings off of a personal Yoda, now it's up to me alone to manage them.
That's a big responsibility. I'd say I'm doing a highly capable job of it overall. I've made plenty of fuckups, but I also have an ever-increasing awareness of how to make the big picture work.
In our time together, I began to see that Ms. Analyst was not providing me with a "cure" for my personal demons, but with tools to efficiently work through the obstacles in my way. Whether they come from inside or outside, I've been overcoming the blockades that slow me down.
But I have to keep using my tools - the capabilities I've gained to recognize when I'm falling back to classic reactions to stress, or slowing myself down just as success seems possible. When I wield these mental tools successfully, life is exhilarating. And even when I fail, I can usually pick myself up much faster than before.
"What Are You Doing With The Extra Time and Money?" This is something I would wonder about quite a bit myself.
I calculate I was allotting about 15 hours per work month to analysis: 45 minutes a day plus 30 minutes total travel time coming and going, three times a week, four weeks a month. How's my math? Am I right?
In any event, that's a massive chunk for anyone to regularly devote to anything besides email in our career-obsessed society. As the proprietor of my own business concerns, the crunch was definitely on between analysis, all my work, my family, and my social life.
After I disembarked, the "extra time" gradually became absorbed into that whirlwind, whipping a little headroom into the hectic schedule without really alleviating any specific pressure. Nor did it create a window for cooking classes, leisurely trips to the museum, or square dancing lessons. I still work late hours. I still don't get everything scratched off my daily "to do" list. Which is pretty much what I expected would happen.
The post-analysis time gains come, instead, in the form of new efficiencies that are there for the taking, earning and learning, each and every day. If I keep using those tools that Ms. Analyst and I so carefully crafted, I think the gains will be measured out and realized over the course of years. I'm fine with that - its one more incentive to win every day.
And the extra dough? Ms. Analyst made analysis as affordable as possible for me. I was extremely lucky in that respect. I often said to her, "We're both losing money on this deal, which must mean it's really important to both of us." In her silence at that, I felt agreement. The result: my family has a little more scratch than before. We're spending it wisely.
"How are you actually putting your analysis to work in your life, now? Has it changed your work life? Sex life? Family life?" I'm stringing these last ones together now, because A) this blog is in danger of growing tooooooo big, and B) they're all kind of related anyway.
All of those things are simply continuing to move in the right direction, for so many of the reasons I just stated above. When I left analysis on my own terms, I knew a lot more labor was coming.
It was a load I was ready to shoulder, even if Ms. Analyst thought there was more work to do in the dyad. She was terrific at her job, and sometimes I feel like a session with her would be a healthy thing. But her true duty was to make me able to stand surely on my two feet, and that critical mission has been accomplished.
I'm uncovering so many rewards as I push forward. I'm doing the things I was sure were impossible, like sharing my ancient and forbidden secrets with my loved ones. Feeling my family growing a little stronger every day, as more and more of me becomes available.
So how am I doing? Here's what I've arrived at: Analysis was amazing. What comes next is even better.
-- Mr. Analysand