(This will most likely be my last time writing about Anna. Unless something monumental happens. It no longer feels like a new chapter I’m on… more like a new book…)
I noticed you popping into my mind every so often today, softly reminding me of something I wasn’t wholly aware of yet. For years you were a constant presence in my mind, never far away. Now you are a familiar guest that pops in from time to time but never stays long. So strong was my urge to feel connected to you today, that I spent my lunch break looking back over our final emails to each other. Retracing the words I know by heart, imagining what you might have been thinking or feeling as you typed them to me, ‘I want to thank you for your email which touched my heart and I will treasure it forever. Your words mean so much to me. Please know that I also will never forget you. It has been a huge privilege to work with you and I have learned so much from you. Love Anna.’
There is still so much grief about the way things ended Anna, and anger too if I’m honest, but I’m not afraid of the size of it anymore, there is more space inside me now and I know how to go into it in a way I was never able before. Though there has been growth and change, I can’t romanticise the memory of you, as if the gratitude for what you gifted me could in any way erase the pain of losing you. There has been so much sadness and anger and grief, and yet in that suffering there has been opportunity to heal places I just could not access before. Like a lit match dropped on a petrol drenched land. Without the fire I felt nothing but the parched fragments of my childhood. What was already buried there, so desperately needed to burn… without the flames there could be no new growth.
You’re still such a powerful catalyst for positive change in my life. You were and still are the most positive female influence in my life and I love you still. Loving you was always the work. To let a woman be someone I could love and trust. To let you know me. To let you close. To even let you hold me like I’d never been held. These things were once unfathomable. I remember back to the days when I thought your kindness would kill me, what it actually did was plant seeds. Even if I could only ever let in the tiniest splinter of your love and kindness, it was enough to aggravate an ancient wound… just enough to bring it to the surface to be worked on.
I wonder if you’re even aware of the impact you had on me. Two and a half years is hardly anything really. And yet here you are still, inside me. I want you to know that I still think of you often, whenever I’m anywhere near Glasgow I wonder if we’ll bump into each other. I imagine sometimes that you’ll see me with the kids and you’ll smile, and I’ll smile. I think about what the past year and a half might have been like for you and I hope so much that you’ve been well. I can’t tell you how much I want that for you, that you be well and happy and safe.
There’s a part of me that longs to update you on everything, to tell you about all of the pools I’ve managed to plunge into after standing so tentatively on each diving board when I was with you, so afraid to jump in. I think you’d be proud of me, Anna. I’m proud of me. I thought about how there might be a part of you that wishes you could have witnessed each dive. Maybe you wish you’d accompanied me as I swam about in the waters I struggled to dip a toe into when I was working with you. But I want you to know that you have been there with me. It’s because of those patient moments of waiting and watching and listening, that I’ve since been able to leap.
Tonight, as I reflected on my day and the inexplicable pull back to our emails, our connection, it suddenly dawned on me, today is the 16th of September. Four years ago this afternoon, I walked into your office terrified, barely speaking. I couldn’t even drive myself to my own sessions back then, had to be driven. I felt barely alive. I barely felt anything at all.
Anna, I know that our time together is over. It’s been 16 months since we said goodbye through tears, a burning throat and an aching heart. I imagine you rarely think of me or your life as a therapist anymore. A distant memory maybe. When we said goodbye I pleaded you to reconsider, told you I’d wait however long it took. You gave your word that you’d contact me if you ever started your practice again, in response to my desperate begging. I couldn’t imagine at the time that anyone else could give me half of what I needed. I felt that you were my only hope of healing. But I’ve come to learn that the hope for healing is inside me. The work we did together gave me the strength to know what I need and to recognise when I’m not getting it. Because of that I was able to leave Linda and find my way to Mark. An incredible therapist, to whom I’ve committed myself wholeheartedly. He is exactly what I need right now. I know that if you were to get back in touch with me now, all I would ask for is a proper goodbye. And I would give anything for one last hug. You guided me on a part of my journey that I was on back then – that stretch of the road is gone now. I’m on a new path and it’s deeper and more complex than was ever possible before. But I could never have got here without you.
This is a letting go, of sorts. Though I’m learning that with all things to do with the heart, there is never just one door that opens and closes. The layers will peel and the grief resurface. But from where I am right now, this is a final goodbye.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Love Lucy 💙