A publication of the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis

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Letting Go

Elizabeth H. Thomas, PhD
Member, Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis
November 2018 | Volume 5 | Issue 10

As my oldest child was preparing to leave for college, I, too, was trying to prepare for her departure. It was not going well. Though I appeared to be perfectly at ease with her leaving, mild desperation lay just below the surface.

Her father and I had divorced a few years earlier, and I had been haunted by that disruption and its effect on my daughter. I worried that I had not raised her well enough to enter successfully into the world of college.

One afternoon, my daughter and I went to a picnic, hosted by an alumnus of the university she was to attend in a few short weeks. We met other new students, including “Julie,” who seemed a lot like my daughter, and I was glad for the familiarity. A few nights later, I had the following dream:

The setting is a stage. The players and I are rehearsing a play. In the play, I am a mother sending her daughter, “Julie,” off on an adventure. The scene being rehearsed has me seated on a sofa, comforting Julie, who is crying. I say, “I’m so sorry, dear. It will be okay. You go on now.”

The director stops the action. He says the scene is not right. He tells us to do it over again only this time, he says to me, “Don’t say ‘I’m sorry’.” So we try it again. I hold Julie in my arms and say, “Everything will be all right, my darling. You go on now….” The director says, “Yes! That’s how it’s supposed to be.”

After that dream, I was able to let my daughter go, without apologies for maternal failings, imagined or otherwise, or reservations for the correctness of my capable daughter’s adventure.

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