I wrote an Instagram post earlier today around endings. I'd found a graphic that I really liked about unfollowing people in real life, and as with most things, it allowed me to go off on this existential tangent about how we all cope with endings.
When I was training to become a therapist, we would often talk about endings in terms of the significance of therapy and sessions - especially when we had worked with a client for a long period of time and knew that the work would soon be complete. I was taught how important it is to plan an ending, which at the time seemed totally weird to me. All of the endings in my life that I could think of had until then been sad, unexpected or traumatic. I could only think of break-ups, or friendships which had ended dramatically, and the big one... the end of my first marriage.
At the time, the idea of planning an ending seemed like an oxymoron, so it's fair to say that this piece of training was challenging for me. In understanding how endings could be healthy, positive, how they could include reflection that meant that I could solidify my feelings and understanding of a situation or my counselling work, I was able to take away the good from an ending.
Sometimes, if I'm feeling particularly daring (and these days, I usually am) in my free 30-minute informal online sessions I will say to my clients:
''My goal, really, is that we get to a point where we never see each other again!'' Oh, how we laugh. Or I do, at least.
But I really mean it. I think that the ending that we plan, the ending that we have chosen (even if in painful circumstances, like ending a marriage) is the best type of ending. One where we have reflected, decided and go on to take action, probably changing the course of our lives forever, that's the idea after all!
Even if we haven't chosen an ending, if it is of someone else's choice and we don't want it, we still can't do very much about it. If someone who has been a part of a couple says ''I want to break up'' they don't need the other party's agreement. From that moment they are separate.
A couple needs two in agreement to begin and one in dissent to end.
What we can choose at that moment, is how we respond to the ending. If we fight it, cling to the pain of it, deny that it's happening, then the likelihood is that it's going to take longer to heal from. If we can work towards accepting, acknowledging, turning towards ourselves and our own needs rather than someone else for distraction via a rebound, or a place to escape to - a place to avoid - then we will soon feel better for it.
By acknowledging that endings can be good, they can be the thing that welcomes change and new opportunities into our lives, then we can get to a place where we no longer fear them.
If you'd like to talk about your own endings in therapy with me - and eventually get to the point where we plan our own (ROFL) you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a FREE 30-minute informal online session here.
Thanks for reading,
Laura is an online talking therapist and writer specialising in working with millennials and the LGBTQI+ community.