A young psychoanalyst named Fliess once asked Freud how a therapist knows when a patient has been cured. “When the patient realizes therapy never ends,” Freud said.
I’ve been thinking about taking a break from therapy in the near future. After at least one monthly session for the last decade and a half, I’m ready to move on.
We all tell ourselves stories about ourselves, each of us simultaneously a personal expert and unreliable narrator of our lives. We awake each day in the same body we went to bed with, but our worries and neuroses, played out in dreams or nightmares, don’t disappear overnight. Our core conflicts persist but manifest in different ways according to our moods or external stressors. Yet every morning we begin again in the middle of things, psyching ourselves up for the inevitable challenges of facing the world in front of our mirrors.
My personal narrative includes memories of individual therapy sessions spent crafting and revising an inconclusive autobiography, therapy itself a series of stories-within-stories, a self-reflexive automatic writing of the soul.
There’s no cure for the trauma I’ve suffered, but I’ve learned to recognize the sound of my own voice again, which speaks to the kindness of my therapists. A kindness I’m now showing myself.