My Art Therapy supervisor and I had a brief conversation yesterday about “witnessing” another person’s story. As therapists that’s part of what our role is, to witness. In truth that is a large part of any social interaction. “I am here to witness and share your story and you are here to witness and share in mine.” This lead to me musing on my lack of friends. I have acquaintances. I have a few people I hang out with on the average of something like once a month. I have family I regularly associate with. But there is no one I am close to. Most of this comes from the fact that I am an introvert and after a long day at work interacting with a lot of people, I am tired and all I look forward to is going home. Alone. Some of this also comes from the amount of time and effort it takes to cultivate a close friendship. In some cases this can take years. Then again much of the time I am happy being alone, doing things alone, until I think, “I really should have a friend. I really wish I had someone to share stories with. I really wish I had someone I could relate to….I really wish I had a witness.” I really wish I had someone I interacted with regularly where a mutual exchange of interests, energy, and enjoyment in each others company could take place. And at times, I really wish I wanted it bad enough to make a coordinated effort to achieve such a relationship.
I once told my therapist that the thing I looked forward to the most each week were our sessions. Our sessions, at that time, were pretty much the only “social” thing I did each week. Her reply was, “That’s sad.” I giggled over that for quiet a while. (No lie. I still giggle about it.) I found it extremely funny. She didn’t mean, of course, that it was sad that my primary interaction with someone was with my therapist. She meant, she said, that it was sad that I did not share myself with anyone. She saw the value in me as a person, qualities she thought meaningful, and that I had no one to share those with, she found sad.
I guess I am musing on this now because in the next couple of weeks we will be having what might be our last session, unless of course I need something or face some kind of crisis. It has been a long road and I have spent a lot of time in her office over the last 6+ years. I spent a lot of tortured time, a lot of growing time, and a lot of time simply enjoying the presence of a person I also found valuable. I found my witness for the story I needed to tell. I think back on how our therapeutic relationship started and marvel at the obscurities of chance. Why her? Why me? She’s told me she doesn’t believe in chance which then leaves, we were meant to cross paths for a reason….This is getting off topic. Excuse me. I have had a valuable witness and part of me doesn’t want to let go. I know that it is possible, if I really needed it or wanted it, to continue to see my therapist once every few months or so but I don’t know. At that point it seems…pointless? Or is it?There is value in checking in of course but the transformative period of time where the magic happened has passed, a chapter has closed so to speak. Is it time for me to grow beyond the therapeutic relationship? This could be equated to any relationship I guess. So does the relationship need to end entirely now that my primary treatment goals are met or does it just need to transition to a new phase?
When my supervisor and I were talking yesterday she said something that kind of made my lack of close friends okay. Before my new job I was working with people all day everyday at one job (cashier at a grocery store) and working primarily by myself at my “real” job (mobile therapy). At my “real” job I had no one to regularly bounce ideas off of or seek feedback from. As a result of both jobs, I was depressed and highly disillusioned, which lead me to feeling like an all around failure personally and professionally. Now that I have regular contact with a treatment team at my new job I am much more fulfilled and I am more okay than not with having few social contacts. My supervisor pointed out that as long as I am happy it is okay that I have so few social interactions. But it’s not like one can regularly share the same things one would with a friend, at work. So where does that leave me?