I had a session with my beloved therapist the other day. I filled her in on what had happened since I'd last seen her and then she said "What do you think about coming to see me? Do you think you're ready for a break?" and it was as if I'd expected her to ask me.
I was only slightly hesitant to say yes. She asked me what came up for me as I'd acknowledged that our time together for now was possibly over. I told her that it felt right, but it also felt scary to drop the identity of trauma victim or someone who needs therapy. I said that it feels like my identity for so long has been wrapped up in my losses, especially in widowhood. Who am I if I'm not a widow, an orphan and an abuse survivor?
How interesting that I'd cling in any way to the most horrific phase in my life. But it feels connected to Dave and our love and it feels like I'm betraying him to let it recede even a little.
After acknowledging and validating my fears she said "Who are you, in addition to those things?"
An artist, I replied, a writer, a good partner, a good friend, a singer, a student, a performer, a teacher...
I began to feel the identities of loss lose their grip as I rattled these off to her. It was as though I was giving myself permission to be more than my losses. I felt the guilt of admitting that I'm doing so well start to ease.
I can see how living fully, and not allowing my loss identities to define me as a way to honor Dave. Not going to therapy every week doesn't have to mean that I'm over it or that I'm done hurting. It means I'm in this phase right now and that I'm living. It means I'll probably go back to a cycle of therapy when I need to and that's fine too.
It means that I'm more than just someone who needs professional help to get through life. I'm much more than a trauma victim, though that identity has consumed me for a long time, and rightly so.
And it means that without identifying with it so much, I have room to allow other identities to flourish.