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Barclay, J. (2010). Endings. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 4(1):68-70.

(2010). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 4(1):68-70


Jane Barclay

I am writing this in August. Ever since I can remember, I have spent my end-of-summer month wishing it away, jumping ahead to September, the start of autumn, a time of beginnings. Until this year. For between last August and this I have made a discovery. And, as discoveries tend to, this one has been leading to more and more.

I love how the big lessons come, the sense that what I am learning has been there all the time waiting until I am ready to know it. It was in this way I reached the core message of how I ended therapy - four years before but still haunting me, not quite finished. I had taken myself to a presentation entitled ‘Trauma of the Privileged Child’ and recognized, as I had hoped to, much of my own boarding school experience. The questions that came afterwards were interesting, but I had nothing to say. Until, suddenly, it was there: my new realization. Then came the announcement, ‘That's all we have time for.’ No, I had to say this. I blurted my sentence out across the hall, heart pumping: ‘I was in therapy six years and gave two weeks’ notice to finish; I got the goodbye over with as quickly as possible, just how it was at school.' I subsided, grateful that instead of the ticking off I expected for speaking out of turn, I received a thank you.

How else could I have borne saying goodbye to the man I had come to love as my ‘third-time-lucky dad’ and who had come to love me as his daughter? The less time I wasted anticipating our parting, the less painful, surely.

The more I thought about it, after this lecture, the more I realized I had been replaying not just the repeated partings on station platforms and school driveways: ‘You'll be fine, you won't even think about home once you've settled in’, I had also re-enacted earlier separations, from my nanny and from my father. The way I had been taught to manage was by forgetting. Out of sight, out of mind; out of mind, no longing. I have been healing this splitting-off of feelings ever since.


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