From the Inside Out

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Loss

The new beginning of my end came on the afternoon of October 30, 2014. I had a 1:30 p.m. appointment scheduled with Andrew this day. Just a few days before I’d called to leave a message with Andrew to let him know I needed a break from therapy. I’d left this message with him a few times in the months I’ve been seeing him, and the truth is, I didn’t really want a break from therapy, I just wanted a break from the feelings that were being dredged up. I needed to understand why I was having feelings of love for Andrew. The week between our sessions felt like months and I realized that I no longer wanted to think about ending therapy with him. Logically, I knew that the purpose of therapy is to no longer need therapy, but I didn’t want to think about that. I wanted to stop feeling so much, so intensely. Andrew emailed me to ask me to come in to discuss my decision and so we made an appointment for the 30th of October. I had one of my bad feelings that morning though. I couldn’t specifically say what was wrong or what bad thing was bound to happen, but I just had a gut feeling that this day would be a terrible one. I figured maybe it was a sign that something bad might happen on my way to see Andrew so I decided to shoot him an email.

I won’t be able to come in today, I am sorry. I can reschedule for next week since I agreed to come in before I take my break. I just can’t do it today Andrew, really I just can’t. I will talk to you next week if you’ll still see me then. ––Karen

Andrew responded to my email shortly after and told me that his supervisor had agreed to let me have a free session if I was having trouble paying for my session. Andrew assumed that I might not have had the funds to pay and that was why I was canceling. On two occasions, my lack of funds had nearly kept me from seeing him, but the company graciously gave me those sessions at no cost. But this time was different and I couldn’t explain it. How could I explain that I had a gut feeling that something terrible was going to happen and so I didn’t want to risk it and go? I would sound like a crazy person. And that was saying a lot, considering all of the things I had already told Andrew about myself. I knew he wouldn’t judge my feelings, but I just didn’t want to explain them.

It’s not money. I can’t explain it Andrew. I am not ready to talk about it. ––Karen

Whatever it is we don’t have to talk about it. Just come in. ––Andrew

Hmm, he was being rather pushy today. This was new to me. So I responded:

I don’t want to be difficult and I hate to say no to you but I’m not coming in today. I’m really sorry. I hope you’ll understand. ––Karen

Since you do better with explaining through email and you seemed to have been excited about coming in today, why don’t you explain through email. I am confused about the sudden change of heart. We don’t have address your painful parts. In fact it appears as though your protective parts are hijacking your willingness to come in. ––Andrew

I read this email response a few times. Andrew was being adamant about me coming to session. Was my bad feeling about him? Was he going to hurt me in some way? Was HE going to be the one to be hurt? Thoughts raced feverishly in my head and I became dizzy. I knew for sure there was no way that I could show up now. Something wasn’t right. Things were off and while I still couldn’t figure out what was wrong, I just knew that something was.

I’ve just had time to think about what I’m doing with my life and what I want to be doing and therapy doesn’t fit for me. And if I can be completely honest here, I wish I hadn’t begun at all. I just want all of my information back...everything that I’ve written and told, I want back. However, I realize that it’s not possible so my only recourse is to stop therapy altogether. It might not be best to stop cold turkey so I am willing to come up with a plan of action but this is who I am. In fact, I’m surprised to have been this compliant for as long as I have. It’s probably because you were different for me, even though you think you are replaceable, you aren’t. In any event, I can see you at some point next week if you would like. If not, that is completely fine by me too. ––Karen

I was starting to once again regret all of the personal traumatic things that I’d shared with Andrew. Something was wrong, and I was feeling guilty and ashamed and confused. Why was he being so strange? Why couldn’t I figure it out? What was going on? I received another email notification from Andrew.

Your protective parts are working hard here, but it’s understandable. Would you rather Skype today? Again, we won’t be discussing any of your vulnerable issues. ––Andrew

Now he wants to Skype with me? No. No. Something…it’s not right.

I’m having a hard time understanding why it matters so much? I’m giving you an out, a way to not have to deal with the mood swings, the helplessness and all of the other emotions and behaviors that accompany it. Why won’t you accept it? ––Karen

OK. See you next week. ––Andrew

Finally. But what had just happened here? Andrew had been able to talk me into not giving up on therapy cold turkey before, but never had he been so assertive with it. As was typical with me, I thought about my email conversation with Andrew for a few hours. The more time that passed, the guiltier I felt. I should have just been honest with Andrew about how I’d felt when I woke up this morning. I should have just told him that I had one of my feelings again. He would have understood. And perhaps had I just told him to begin with, the whole email exchange wouldn’t have felt so weird for me. I was expecting him to understand how I was feeling without even explaining myself. Andrew was a wonderful therapist, but he was not a mind reader. I decided to apologize to Andrew and explain myself to him.

I just wanted to apologize for earlier. I was really rude to you and I didn’t mean it. Will next Thursday at 1:30 work for you? I know there is a fee for canceling an appointment at the last minute and I will take care of that when I come in next week. Again, I am sorry and I hope you’re not mad at me. OK. Well, I will talk to you Thursday afternoon unless that day doesn’t work for you. Take care. ––Karen

Can I call you at 130? ––Andrew

I emailed him back and told him that it would be fine if he called me at 1:30 p.m. I was looking forward to talking to him over the phone. It would give me the opportunity to apologize to him and I would be able to hear it in his voice if he was angry at me or not. Even though my preferred method of contact with Andrew was email, I still appreciated the phone calls. This phone call, however, would be the worst phone call I’d ever received.

If I were to be completely honest with myself, I would admit that I hardly remember the bulk of our conversation. Likely, it was me just discussing how I was doing and answering Andrew’s probing questions to get an idea of my current state of mind. I do vaguely remember Andrew asking me if I was ready to take a break from therapy, and how we had been working on some really intense material. During our whole phone conversation, I noticed my whole body was shaking uncontrollably, as if I were freezing, but from the inside out. I literally felt like my warm blood was replaced by ice water and it was coursing through my veins. A deep cold that couldn’t be explained by the temperature in the room, which was a warm seventy-two degrees. I tried to keep the teeth chattering to a minimum but I did apologize to Andrew about it in the event that he was able to notice it. I told him how I was shaking, he asked me why. I couldn’t explain; I didn’t know why either but I had the feeling it was related to the bad feeling I had been having all day.

“Karen, I am concerned because you say things like I am the only one who can help you,” Andrew said.

“Well, I say that because I’ve never told anyone the truth about me. About how I am and the things I’ve been through. I don’t know why I opened up to you, I just know I can’t do it all over again, Andrew, and that’s why I say that you are the only one who can help me,” I explained.

“You know that’s not true, Karen, there are plenty of qualified professionals that could help you. A number of them.”

This wasn’t the first time Andrew tried to assure me that there was a sea of therapist that were just like him that could help me, and, just like the other times, I didn’t believe him. While I hadn’t seen every medical professional in the world, I had been through a number of them through the course of fifteen years and it took me fifteen years to find one that I trusted; I wouldn’t make it another fifteen years.

My thoughts were interrupted when Andrew said, “I am leaving the clinic.”

OK, I thought, he is leaving the clinic that I go to, that’s OK, I will just go to whatever clinic he moves to, no big deal.

“I am moving out of North Carolina. I have accepted a position with another company in Tennessee.”

Wait, what did he just say? “OK,” I managed to say out loud.

Andrew was still talking, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. He sounded like he was so far away and I couldn’t make out his words. My head was spinning and my heart was hurting. It was a very good thing that I was sitting down because I felt like I would faint. I realized the conversation was over when there was a long silence on the other end of the phone. I managed to choke out a goodbye and I hung up. I sat in the chair staring down at the phone in my hand. It was as if I were trying to convince myself that the conversation that had just transpired wasn’t real. It couldn’t be. Andrew couldn’t be leaving me. The tears that I had been fighting since Andrew had said he was leaving were no longer able to stay inside the confines of my eyelids. I cried hysterically. I was shaking uncontrollably. What would I do without Andrew? Why didn’t I apologize for whatever it was that I had said or done to make him leave me? Why didn’t I beg him to stay? I started to redial his number to ask him these questions, but I knew that the words would just get caught in my throat as soon as he answered. I decided to send him an email.

OK, so I wasn’t really prepared for your news...although deep down I knew it was coming. I know you want to see me before you leave, but I can’t go back to the clinic anymore. It will be way too hard knowing what I know now. I won’t email or call you anymore either. I have to make a clean break and be able to get over it. I will call later to find out what will happen to any records of mine. I don’t want to be referred anywhere so don’t go through the trouble of talking to anyone else. Good luck on your next adventure. I will really miss you. ––Karen

My email to Andrew was pretty tame. I was so hurt and angry but I didn’t know how to express those feelings to him. I didn’t know how to make him understand how absolutely devastating this news was to me. I hadn’t burned myself in a long time, but I needed to. I wanted to do it to punish me, but also to punish Andrew. Sort of a “see what you made me do?” type of thing. I hated feeling that way. I am not a manipulator, or at least I wouldn’t intentionally try to manipulate anyone, so feeling like I wanted to hurt myself in order to hurt Andrew was a new feeling for me and I didn’t like it. Besides, I would never, ever tell Andrew I hurt myself because of his departure news, so really, who was I trying to get back at?

Totally understandable. Can I check in with you next week to see where you’re at with this then? ––Andrew

No, don’t. I’m never going to be OK with it so there’s no point in worrying about it. Plus it will be really hard for me if I hear from you weekly until you go. I just rather not know and just pretend you’re already gone. ––Karen

I’m not good at goodbyes. I wasn’t sure how to do this today. There may have been a better way to do it, maybe not. I’m going to take a position at a facility in Tennessee. It’s a great opportunity, and I just can’t pass on it. I am going to miss you too. I have enjoyed working with you. I am honored to have been witness to your journey. Thank you for trusting me to share your life with me. You will go on to do great things, you just need to get out of your way and let it happen. I have this feeling that I will be reading about some of the great things you will do. I can’t wait until that happens. Just being witness to your bravery so far has been amazing. I know you’re saying to yourself that that’s not true, and that’s what I mean by getting out of your own way. You’re a smart person and very capable. Your children are proof that you possess these qualities because you have passed them on. Feel free to check in with me in the future. I want to hear about your progress. I really think the person I have found could be really helpful to you. Let me know when or if you’re ready for that. ––Andrew

I know I said I wouldn’t email you anymore, and I reconsidered sending you this email. I fought with myself for hours. First, I told myself that the conversation that we had today was just a nightmare and that it really didn’t happen. You weren’t leaving and that everything was going to stay the same. Then I wanted to email you and tell you how much of an asshole you were for leaving me and I wasn’t ready to let you go. I know, I know. I just, you know. Well, I don’t know. Anyway, then I wanted to email you and beg you to take me with you. I was going to make all kinds of promises and just be as convincing as possible so that you’d not leave me. So, all of that made me really depressed and I’ve cried and cried and cried. It wasn’t until reading your email right now that I just realized that it is what it is. I would never want you to pass up anything that would better your career/your life, and/or the lives of your family. It just really hurts. And only for selfish reasons I don’t want you to go. I mean, you just really have helped me so much. And you’ve been so damn kind to me. And I’m not really used to that so I try to hang onto what I can. I just love you so much. I really do. There aren’t many places I feel safe and during our sessions, I felt safe. I wasn’t afraid that you’d hurt me in anyway. I actually felt kind of protected. I did (do) worry how attached to you I felt, but it’s just that I liked the feeling of being safe. Right now, I’m going back and forth with wanting to see you before you leave and not wanting to see you. On one hand, I feel like if I do, I will be a big puddle of mush and make us both uncomfortable. On the other, I feel like if I don’t see you I will end up regretting it. It’s just easier to run for me. I really don’t want to deal with this. But through all of that, I am happy for you. Your spirit is just too big and your abilities too great to not take advantage of a better position. I’m going to be sad for a while, but that’s OK. Like I tell my children, it’s OK to be sad and it’s OK to cry. God, this just sucks. I will be OK.

Thank you for everything. The insight, being my sounding board, for helping, for making me feel not crazy, and for making me laugh and most important to me, for treating me like I am a normal person. For not looking at me like I should be ashamed of how I look, how I think/feel, etc. Just thanks for being awesome. I hope you’re right about me and I do contribute something worthwhile to this world before I leave it. Thank you for inspiring me to want to move on. Right now, I can’t even think about seeing anyone else. Definitely too raw. Maybe before you go I will be OK enough to be open to it. Right now, I just can’t. I just don’t know how to be OK with this. ––Karen

Andrew didn’t respond to my last email. I spent the rest of the day depressed. I stayed closed off from the world, in my room, in the dark. I pushed away my children and ignored them. Ryan knew something was wrong with me and he kept coming into my room to hug me and ask me if I was OK. I would try to convince him that I was fine. He didn’t buy it, and I didn’t blame him. I didn’t convince myself either. The guilt of ignoring my children just inflated my misery. I cried until I had no more tears in me to shed. I couldn’t believe that I fooled myself into thinking that Andrew was safe from the poison of me. Everything that I’d ever been involved in, I would ruin in one way or another, and Andrew wasn’t immune to it.

I had to message Crystal. She would know what to say to help me feel less devastated by the news. Crystal knew that I had become very attached to Andrew and it actually worried her how much I depended on him. She had a hard time understanding why I was allowed to email him as often as I did. Crystal worked in a similar field and thought it was pretty unprofessional. However, the content of the emails I shared with Andrew were always therapy related. It was as if Andrew knew what I needed. He gave me the means to express myself in my own way, on my own terms. I didn’t understand why it was such a big deal. Nevertheless, when I shared my news with Crystal, she was sympathetic because she knew I was hurting, but deep down, I knew Crystal, and I also knew that she was pretty happy that I would be getting some––according to her––much needed distance from Andrew.

Crystal listened as I told her how I couldn’t go on without Andrew. I shouldn’t have said that to her. I would only make her worry. Besides, she had already warned that if anything happened to me, she would turn Andrew in. Turn him in. Crystal was convinced that the emails Andrew and I shared were inappropriate, even though I showed her many of them just to prove how appropriate they were.

“If Andrew is even half as good as a therapist as you say he is, Karen, he would be able to see that your feelings for him go much further than a client’s adoration for her therapist. It’s dangerous of him not to address your feelings for him. That’s unprofessional and borderline negligence.”

I didn’t agree with Crystal. I didn’t know what she thought my feelings for Andrew meant, but I knew what they meant. I loved him. I loved him so much that my heart literally and figuratively ached when he told me that he was leaving. I didn’t have any sexual attraction at all toward Andrew. In my head, my perfect relationship with Andrew would be that we would be friends. Like the best of friends. He would want to spend time with me, hang out, and we would just talk. I would listen to him just as much as he would listen to me. That was what I wanted from Andrew if this were a perfect world and ethics weren’t a problem. But Andrew was very professional and would never entertain anything other than a therapeutic relationship with me. I learned to accept this and be OK with it. This was only possible because I knew that at least I still had him in my life. He could still be there. Until the day he wasn’t. I knew that day would come eventually, but I thought it would happen at a point in my life where I was emotionally stronger and able to handle it. Not now. I couldn’t handle it now. His last day would be November 13. I had just two Thursdays left with him. I felt cheated. I wanted to email Andrew, even though I knew I shouldn’t. I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea but I had spent the last few days looking for a therapist to take Andrew’s place once he left. I did not like what my search results gave me.

You don’t have to respond. I need to get used to not being able to do this. I just can’t believe you’re leaving. The more I think about it, the worse I feel about it all. It’s just so sudden and happening too fast for me to even wrap my brain around it. Since I didn’t remember if you gave me the name of the woman you wanted me to see, I’ve been doing my own research and I don’t like anyone I have found. So, I searched in my own area and found like six therapists, none of which specialize in anything I need help with. Did you know they have e-therapists? Seriously, I saw that when I was searching. I think I will just do that. Talk to someone completely online. That way I won’t run the risk of getting attached and then having the therapist leave me. If it’s all online then they can remind me of coping skills when I’m feeling really bad and that’s all I will use them for. Anyway, I haven’t slept at all yet and I just feel like shit and I just wanted to email you. So, yeah. That’s it I guess. ––Karen

Even though we used Skype, you still came into the office for the majority of sessions. I’m not in support of online only counseling. In my opinion, and I think most other therapists’, in order for the therapy to be successful there needs to be a majority of in person sessions to develop a therapeutic relationship. Also, you need to be able to have someone who can direct you in your time of crisis. I don’t think online therapy could do that. Be wary of anyone who says otherwise. You have no way of verifying they are who they say they are either. ––Andrew

I knew he was right. I wanted to just do e-therapy so I wouldn’t need to face another person. I could be helped professionally, anonymously. I needed to talk to Candace. She was always able to help comfort me. Even if she didn’t have the answers to give me, she would just be there to provide emotional support.

Candace was definitely the kind of friend that would cry with you when you cried, and would celebrate with you in your times of happiness. She had done that and so much more for me. I called Candace and as soon as she answered the phone, I just broke down. She just sat quietly and waited patiently, without judgment, for me to stop crying. She knew firsthand how important Andrew was to me, and even accompanied me to one of my sessions and was impressed with him––and she had only met him briefly.

I cried again about how much I would miss Andrew and how I wished that this was all just a horrible dream. No one believed in me like he did. No one knew as much as he did about me and didn’t judge me. And when Andrew looked at me, he saw a person. Not a victim, not a mentally ill individual, and not a morbidly obese woman. I was just Karen to him. How would I ever get that level of decency again? I never felt judged by Andrew. I just felt like I was a person. I would never have that again. It was my once-in-a-lifetime chance and that was now slipping through my fingers.

Candace was such a wonderful friend. She listened to me cry and complain and once I stopped and took a breath, she asked, “Karen, can I pray with you right now?” And she prayed. I’d always told Candace that she had a direct line to God because when she and I prayed together (she prayed, I listened) I always felt a calming presence when she finished. I listened as Candace asked God to heal my broken heart and dry my tears. I heard her thank Him for Andrew and putting him in my life. She also prayed for Andrew. One of the many things Candace and I had in common, no matter what went on in the world around us, was that we found time to care about others, even if that care wasn’t returned.

The first of our last Thursdays together had come pretty quickly. I was afraid to even show up to this appointment. I was still feeling raw and unstable and I didn’t want to cry in front of Andrew. I had cried in front of him once, and that was during a Skype session after learning of the criminal charges being brought against me. Andrew always reminded me that it was OK to cry. And I knew it; I just couldn’t show him that part of myself. I would want him to comfort me. I knew he wouldn’t be able to comfort me in the way I thought I needed. I would want him to hug me and tell me it was going to be OK. I knew that even if he wanted to, he wouldn’t be able to, so I would rein it in as much as possible.

I held it together pretty well. We talked about what I would do after he left. We went over coping skills. I also signed a suicide contract making a commitment not to end my own life. I had a list of people I was to contact if I was feeling suicidal, which was happening more and more since my main support system was breaking away. I had to learn how to want to live without the help from the person who’d showed me that I deserved to live. Our first of two sessions left went by too quickly. I managed not to cry in front of Andrew. I made it all the way down the clinic stairs and out the front door without shedding a tear. I made it into my car and out of the parking lot and I was OK. Back on the highway toward home, the tears fell freely from my eyes.

Our last session was quickly approaching and I had to figure out a way to show Andrew how much he meant to me. I wanted to do something as a token of my gratitude for all of his help. I knew there were rules to gift-giving in therapy so I decided to call the clinic and ask Andrew’s supervisor. I liked Tony. Tony was a tall guy with kind eyes and very caring.

After the third ring, Tony answered the phone.

“Hi Tony, this is Karen, how are you?”

“Hey Miss Suffern. I am well, how are you?”

“I’m fine, thanks. I was wondering. Andrew is leaving me and he has been so wonderful to me, I want to get him a gift, but I know that sometimes that it is not allowed. I decided to make something for Andrew and give it to him. Would that be OK?”

“Miss Suffern, I understand. I know you were close to Andrew. I know the intention behind the reason you want to give Andrew a gift so if it’s in your heart to give him a gift, you have my permission.”

“Thank you so much, Tony,” I said before hanging up. I really liked him. I would miss him too. I decided that I would also make Tony a gift as well. The only thing now was to ask Andrew if he would be OK with receiving a gift from me. I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable in any way.

So, I searched online for almost a week for the proper gift-giving etiquette when it came to termination of a therapeutic relationship. The advice was split down the middle where half of my research says it’s never appropriate to give gifts and the reasons they listed included discomfort for the therapist (whether to accept or not accept and if they don’t accept, the client’s hurt feelings due to rejection) and of course because the gift could be inappropriate in nature (like porn or be really expensive) or, because gift giving means there are unresolved issues in therapy so giving one at the end of the therapeutic relationship doesn’t allow the opportunity to explore what the gift means. And you know, in theory I “get” all of those reasons, but it all sounds hella complicated because to me, a gift is saying...hey, I appreciate you...here is a token of my gratitude. Now, some of the sites said that provided that there isn’t anything in an agency’s code of ethics regarding gift giving, it should be A-OK as long as it’s relatively inexpensive or homemade and not inappropriate in nature. So, while there is an unresolved issue with me (that issue being I don’t want you to go) it is not the reason I wanted to get you something. The problem was I wasn’t sure if it would be OK. I called Tony to ask him the policy regarding it. He gave me the green light and told me that if it was in my heart to do it, then it was OK by him. Of course, you could very well be not OK with it and that would be totally fine and understandable to me. But I am sitting here looking at the gift I made for you and now I feel stupid for doing it because you’re probably going to hate it or think it’s the dumbest thing ever. Since you’re all hard to read and give very little info about what you enjoy (yes...I know, nature of the relationship...I got it :) ) I just made something that is kind of cute/clever but could totally be seen as stupid too. Anyway, I wasn’t going to tell you about it and just give it to you, however: 1. I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable in any way (but there isn’t anything at all inappropriate about the gift) 2. I’d hate to bring it and you don’t want to accept it and the situation be all awkward on your last day. The situation is already going to be difficult for me so I don’t want to make it any more difficult. Man, writing this email just made this seem way more complicated than it had to be. I guess what I am saying is...I made you a gift, cost me less than $15 bucks total and you may think it’s cute, or stupid but if you don’t want it, just let me know by Thursday. Phew...OK...so yeah. Bye. ––Karen

After I sent the email I realized I was rambling and making things more difficult. I tended to do that when I am nervous. It happened whether I was nervous about something in person or even via email apparently.

If you made it then I will definitely accept it. ––Andrew

I was relieved that Andrew wouldn’t reject my gift.

On the hour-long drive to my last appointment with Andrew, I didn’t think about this being our last meeting. In fact, I didn’t think about anything. By the time I had pulled into the parking lot of the clinic, I looked around and wondered how I got there. I didn’t remember the ride at all. I am glad that instincts kicked in. I sat in my car for a few minutes. I wasn’t ready to walk up those flight of stairs for the last time. I closed my eyes and took a long, deep breath and then got out of my car. I had my oversized backpack that contained Andrew’s and Tony’s gifts.

I checked in for the last time and Andrew greeted me in the waiting room and motioned for me to join him in his office. He closed the door and asked how I was doing. As always, I answered that I was fine. I also told him that I had his gift but I wasn’t sure if I would give it to him. He laughed and said, “OK, well, no pressure.” I was just nervous to give it to him in case he laughed at it.

We talked about what my long-term plans would be. A little time had passed by and I worked up the nerve to offer up the gift I had made for him. I asked him to close his eyes, and he obliged. I reached in my oversized bag and pulled out a brown basket filled with graham crackers, Hershey’s chocolate bars, and campfire marshmallows. Pinterest inspired my gift idea. I also had a poem encased in a picture frame with these items. I’d neatly wrapped clear cellophane around it, and attached to the outside was a note that read: I wish I could spend S’MORE time with you.

I put the basket on the table and slid it in Andrew’s direction. I told him that he could open his eyes now. He did and he liked my gift. He thought it was clever. He spotted the picture frame in the back of the basket and began unwrapping the cellophane from the basket.

“You don’t have to read that right now,” I told him, as he grabbed the picture frame and began to read the poem I wrote for him. The top of the paper read I am Thankful For: and using his initials, I’d written this poem:

All of the times you’ve been there for me

Never allowing me to give up on myself

Dedicated to my recovery even when my strength to go on wavered.

Reality isn’t so scary anymore. My dreams now seem achievable.

Every day I will fondly remember our time together.

While I will miss you terribly, it is because of you that I know my life is worth living.

After reading the poem, Andrew thanked me and told me it was very touching. We talked some more and then it was time to go. I couldn’t believe it; this was it. Andrew stood up from his seat and walked around the table and stopped short of the door. I walked toward him and stood there. Don’t cry Karen, don’t you dare! I told myself. I was close to completely breaking down. Hug him! Do it! I was having an internal argument with myself. I stood there awkwardly. I wanted to wrap my arms around Andrew and hug him. I wanted to let him see how much he meant to me. But I was scared. What if he was disgusted by the thought of hugging me? What if he was uncomfortable with it? What if he said no? I couldn’t risk any of this. So I just stood there, silently pleading with Andrew to pick up on a cue from me. Any cue, to let him know I needed reassurance. And as if he read my thoughts, he reached over and touched my arm and gave it a gentle squeeze. It wasn’t the hug that I wanted, but it was enough to let me know that he knew I needed physical contact. I opened the door and walked out of the office for the last time. I turned back and gave Andrew one more goodbye before walking out of that door forever.

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