"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."
T. S. Eliot
It's that time, again. Being somewhat of a perennial student this time of year means a number of things - exams, deadlines, and endings. Not necessarily all three, and not always in that order. This summer marks the end of a two year postgraduate program of study, for which I attended the final teaching block last week. The experience of being part of a group is far from new. The experience of being part of that particular group was novel.
Endings are funny things. They sound so straightforward, but tend not to be. Ever got to the final chapter of a book and found yourself slowing down, extending it, not wanting it to finish? Finishing can be tricky. I have experience of this from both sides of the room - as a client, and as a therapist. I've run from endings, I've avoided them, tried to ignore them, attempted to pretend they weren't happening. I've reframed endings, preferring to think of them as breaks. I've sabotaged endings.
Change is challenging. We resist it. We balk against it. To turn up for an ending can be taxing, and even terrifying. In every ending, is a reminder of every other ending. There are hallmarks - how we 'do' or don't do endings. Therapy is an opportunity to do something different, and in so doing resolve those previous endings that may have felt somehow incomplete, or unsatisfactory.
Running away from an ending can often signal our reluctance to let go of something, someone or a space we have held precious. When we don't work the process through, we are left with something unresolved, from which it is often difficult to move on. We leave ourselves suspended, and so in limbo. We miss out as we deny ourselves something special and important. We deprive ourselves of an experience that confirms we can survive through change, whether invited or enforced.
Endings are inevitable. That doesn't make them any easier. We experience change, whether we like it or not. Daily. Moment to moment we are enduring constant change. This is perhaps at the root of our discomfort. Formalised and formatted farewells give us the opportunity to reflect on our relationship with change, and provide us with an opportunity to take a step in the right direction.
"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."