Sending a Christmas Card to my therapist.

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Even at Christmas time, therapy is fraught with feelings and dilemmas. One small dilemma I had this season was whether to give my therapist a Christmas card. I did want to, it’s in my nature to be giving and I thought it would be a nice thing to do. But then the worries seeped in, would she accept a card from me? Would she even want one from her client? And actually, what realistically could she even do with it? If I sign it, she can’t exactly put it up with the rest of her cards because confidentiality and all that. So then what’s the point?

And there was also a smaller part that was almost embarrassed to give her a card, like showing she mattered to me. I’m not sure I’m ready for her to matter to me. Also what if our relationship isn’t close enough to merit a Christmas card? Maybe it’s just safer to keep things on a very professional level and that means we aren’t included in each other’s Christmas traditions.

My deeply ambivalent feelings for my therapist really got in the way of making a seemingly simple decision as to whether to give her a card or not. I do wish her a lovely Christmas and I am grateful for her in my life (usually!). As I think back to the other therapists I’ve had, it was easy for me to impulsively buy a gift or send a Christmas card, I loved doing it, I loved giving a little something back to this person I loved and was so grateful to for all their help during the year. Looking back though, quite a lot of those actions were about me. My need to express love, my need for acceptance and perhaps even my need to push away the cold hard fact that they weren’t my loving mother, but someone who is being paid to help me, a business relationship.

I don’t feel like I need any of those things anymore, or at least not as much. I have grown over the years, I accept what the relationship is and isn’t (mostly). And in the absence of this painful mother/daughter dynamic that got activated in my other failed therapy relationships, I don’t feel a pull to give anything to my therapist. I don’t have to be perfect for “ mother” to stay. I don’t need to be her favourite, I don’t need to get her approval or acceptance through gifts, I don’t need to do anything. She’ll still be there whether I give her a card or not.

But it’s not all “healthy adult” and secure thoughts that prevented me giving her a card this year. Part of it was just not wanting to. I felt like giving a card was somehow me trying to gain emotional intimacy that I long for with her but just don’t have yet, like I’m trying to expedite the process of attachment and of bonding. I would be trying to force something that just isn’t there.

And of course part of my inner child felt a bit put out and huffy and had thoughts like “ Well, she didn’t get me a card either, so why should I give her one?” My child knows it’s all to do with boundaries and shit but fuck boundaries. Why do I always have to be the one reaching out? Why can’t she reach out to me? Why couldn’t she just want to give me a card?

So after much deliberation, I did not give her a card.

But tonight, it is Christmas Eve. And I have finally got settled for the evening after many days of rushing around. The tree is twinkling and glittering, the presents are wrapped and under the tree, it’s warm and cosy in my house and my thoughts turn to my therapist. My heart softens when I think of her and I count all the ways she’s helped me this past 10 months and I am so grateful for her help. I am thankful for her openness and patience. I am thankful for her understanding of trauma and complex ptsd and dissociation and attachment issues. I am thankful for all the time she’s made for me outside of sessions, and for her willingness to engage with me in ways that help me express things ie art, email and texting.

So after speaking to my friend, I decide to send Sienna a text wishing her a Merry Christmas. I decide that I do want to send Christmas wishes to her. Because I want to, because I like her, because it’s who I am and what I believe Christmas is about.

And 2 mins later I get a very warm response and she wishes me a Merry Christmas back. And it was enough. That small interaction between us on the eve of Christmas was enough.

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Sending a Christmas Card to my therapist.

  1. plf1990 says:

    It’s such a hard balance. I have always given cards and gifts since I started in therapy, but it’s changed over time – initially the gift was the important thing – as you say, almost as a way of buying their love and acceptance. Now I give tiny but hopefully meaningful Christmas decorations, and a heartfelt card. The message in the card is the bit I deliberate over. I’ve definitely changed my need in giving, for the better.

    I don’t want this to sound patronising, but you’ve grown so much this year. It is a pleasure and an honour to follow your journey. Warmest wishes for this festive season and throughout 2016. Xx

    Like

    • Sirena says:

      Do you think your therapist has noticed the distinction in your gift giving? Or is it something you’ve specifically spoken about?
      Thank you so much for seeing my growth, that makes me feel happy. And thank you for your support and for following my journey. Merry Christmas xx

      Like

  2. manyofus1980 says:

    We texted our therapist on christmas day to wish her a merry christmas. A minute later she texted back to say the same to us. I didnt give her a card this year. I usually do but I decided to not do it this year for some reason. I usually give my psychiatrist a card too. I always put a heart felt message in the card. XX

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rachel says:

    I love how this story ended – with you texting and receiving that text back. An affirmation of the connection you two have, I think, that you reached out and she warmly reached right back. A little microcosm of the whole therapy relationship.
    I understand this dilemma; I contemplated if I would say happy holidays or give a card. Negotiating these grey areas are tough; it is that line between professional and real relationship that we must constantly touch and redefine, with each situation. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sirena says:

      thanks. I think what i’m finding hard to deal with is this whole notion that I always have to reach out first. I don’t understand the reasons behind it. What did u decide about about a card for your therapist?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rachel says:

        I feel the same way sometimes, angry that I am the one reaching out.
        I didn’t give a card, but she ended up contacting me that day for logistical reasons and wished me good holidays, so I reciprocated. That felt adequate.

        Like

  4. Andi says:

    For the first time ever, I didn’t give a card for the holidays either. It’s something I actually talked about in session and perhaps will write about. The text exchange seems perfect.

    Like

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