“Robin, What? You’re Moving?”

I’m sorry it’s taken so long to continue the story. Life got in the way. As we all know, it happens. I’ve been working on a whole new plan for marketing our book, which I will discuss in a different update soon. Tonight though, in honor of Robin who is hunkered down and sitting through Hurricane Irma in Florida (she is safe, I promise, and I will be trying to talk her into writing a special post at some point about her experiences), I am ready to continue the story that left our readers hanging so many months ago…

When Robin asked me to go to lunch in March 2016, I didn’t think anything of it. We hadn’t seen each other in awhile, and it was time to catch up. She and her mom had gone to Florida for a vacation and I was anxious to hear about their visit.

We talked about how things went, and talked about how things were generally going in my life. Then, Robin said, “Sharon, I have something to tell you.” Somewhat nervously, but definitively, she said, “My mom and I are planning to move to Florida.”

Okay, I have to back up before I talk about my response to this announcement. After Robin’s mom went to visit her friend Betty in Florida the previous year, she had come home and told Robin she wanted to consider moving there. When Robin told me this at that time, I have to admit I did not respond in the best way. As anyone who has read this story knows, I had been through hell and back with Robin in terms of her mental illness and it’s effects. Robin was finally stable and settled. Honestly, I was very concerned about the impact a major change like moving to Florida would have on her mental health. Her stability had been longstanding, but had never been tested to such a huge extent. I was very concerned about the ramifications of her destabilizing in general, but also having it happen so far away from all the mental health providers who were familiar to her.

I was deeply affected by the year in 2003 when Robin was so suicidal for so long. It’s hard to fully describe the sense of responsibility I felt to keep her alive during that year, no matter how stressful it was for me. Years later I cared for my mother-in-law, who had significant dementia. There were some similarities in terms of the need for me to just keep going, no matter how bad it got, until things changed one way or another. It was stressful, and exhausting.

In the case of my mother-in-law, I had to just keep going until she died. Thankfully, in Robin’s case it was until she was stabilized and didn’t need me to be her caretaker any longer. Years later we were eventually able to navigate the complicated transition from therapist/client, to friends and co-authors. But, I obviously remained very protective of her. And, I am still the person who knows better than anyone else in the world, how quickly and dangerously she can destabilize, given the right circumstances.

So, I have to admit that when Robin told me in 2015 that her mother was talking about the possibility of moving to Florida, I did not react as her friend. I reacted as her ex-therapist who was worried. She had gotten to a point where she was stable, and happy. She had a good job, friends, and was as content as she had ever been as an adult. My reaction came from a place of significant concern about how a major life change might cause her to destabilize. If I’m being totally honest, I was partly worried about getting drawn back into feeling compelled to be her caretaker. We had navigated the transition to me not needing to be in this role any longer. I did not want to deal with the complications of blurring the roles should she become seriously suicidal again. I expressed my concern about all of this to Robin. We had endlessly processed all the complications of the role changes through the years, so none of this surprised her. She seemed to hear me.

Because it was going to be a whole year before her mom returned to Florida for another visit, the topic was dropped. It became a non-issue. But, when Robin made her sudden announcement to me in March 2016, I knew completely why I had not been consulted during the decision making process. I knew why she waited until the decision was final before telling me.

I didn’t blame her. She knew how I would feel. She knew I would be worried, for all the reasons I had verbalized a year earlier. So this time, when she told me the decision had been made, I knew I needed to support her. My concerns were the same as they had been previously. Robin does not deal well with change, under the best of circumstances. I couldn’t imagine how stressful it would be for her to navigate all the significant changes that would be involved in re-locating to a whole new state, far away from her family and friends.

So, what was my response to Robin’s announcement?

My outside voice said, “Wow, Robin! I’m shocked. I didn’t see this coming. You know my concerns, but I am really happy for you.”

My inside voice? What was it saying? “Oh shit! I hope this works for her. God help us both if it doesn’t!”






About Sharon DeVinney, Ph.D.

Sharon DeVinney, Ph.D. completed her doctoral degree in clinical psychology at Purdue University. She spent ten years doing full-time clinical practice at a community mental health center with primarily adults. She then spent eight years working as an administrator at that same community mental health center while continuing to maintain a small caseload of therapy clients. She now provides clinical services in long-term care facilities in addition to writing, consulting and spending as much time as possible with the people she loves.
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15 Responses to “Robin, What? You’re Moving?”

  1. Dawn D says:

    WHAT? You have a LIFE? I’m shocked! 😉
    I hope everything is fine and it was good reasons that kept you away from here.
    I’m glad to know Robin is safe.
    And it was good to read you again.
    I know all too well the fear about moving away from my support system as I’ve had to do it so many times through my life. It was never my choice either, nor did I have the support from my spouse, which probably made it more difficult…
    Hope you’re well

    • Hey! So good to hear from you! I’m sorry I’ve not stayed caught up on your blog adventures. Hope all is well with you. It’s been nothing bad keeping me away. Just a need to shift my focus to other things for a little while. Robin and I will continue our story soon…

      • Dawn D says:

        Glad to hear!
        Things here are… what they are. Some struggles, some laughs…
        Mom’s in remission, Grannie made it to her 93rd birthday, the kids started school and are doing Ok roughly.
        I… am in love with a man who loves me back even if he still hasn’t said so…
        The ex… still his persistent $£~}#¥^% self
        Same old same old 😊

      • Haha…thanks for the abbreviated update. Glad things with the Dancer are okay. Actions are waaay more important than words, and I think his words tell you what you need to know. Just saying…

      • Dawn D says:

        Oh, I agree. His words are a balm on my aching heart and bones.
        He is such a wonderful man, very introverted but, still, suffering through the tons of poems I write about him without complaining! What more could a writer ask for 😉
        (There are less glowing updates to be read on my blog, but it’s not something that I want to share in a random comment, nor is it that important in the grand scheme of things. I love life and will be fine 😊)

  2. dyane says:

    Here I am!!! You know I’ll always get to your blog – I only read a few now and your blog is one of them. I love how honest you are in your writing and how you picked apart when you were acting more like Robin’s (ex) therapist vs. her friend. I think my therapist would enjoy reading this book when her life slows down. She hasn’t even read an advanced copy of my book yet! 😜

    Always remember there’s no need for you to apologize, dear Sharon, for taking a while to continue the story! I really want to read your upcoming post about marketing your book – um, could you write it before October? Could you write it this week?
    (Just kidding! Like you need more pressure, right????) 👀

    Sending you gentle (((hugs))) & all my ❤️,

    • Dyane, it is always a breath of fresh air to hear from you. I am sure you are nervous about the release of your book, but without even having read it I just know it’s going to do well. I’ll give you a hint about my new idea for marketing our book…more details to come, but I know you will hate it. The hint? It involves public speaking. Sorry. 😩

      • dyane says:

        Haha – you crack me up! Thanks for the hint!!!!!! Public speaking!!!?????? I know you’ll be proud of mr for scheduling two events where I’m going to speak for a long time (Ahhhhhhhh!) & 3 podcasts, which will be a walk in the park in comparison – I just wish the nerves I have and will have would burn a few extra calories, you know? 😉

      • You’ll do great…this is your destiny. Can’t wait to read your book! ♥️

      • dyane says:

        I hope you like it, “warts” and all! 📖

  3. Betty J Lee says:

    I only know Robin after she has moved to Florida but I see a strong woman – working – enjoying life and pretty much as normal as anyone I know – although that may not be the compliment it should be LOL. I know she can have her struggles but she works through them – just like the rest of us. She is dedicated to making life work for her in spite of her disease and truly knows her limitations – something most of us ignore. I have read her book – it’s a hard read as it’s raw and real, but certainly helps you understand the beautiful Robin that I currently know and the struggle and hell she has gone through to finally be diagnosed correctly and on the right meds. I love this girl. All of us have inner struggles, some much worse than others but kindness and understanding is the key in helping others and helping yourself.

    • robin1967 says:

      Thank you for the kind words and for your support Betty. I love you too!

    • Betty–I am so glad you posted this. I agree that Robin is a strong person and is dealing well with her inner struggles, just like the rest of us. You have been instrumental in helping her transition to her new life in Florida. Thanks for your support of our book!

  4. Aden Ng says:

    Hey Sharon. Hey Robin.

    I hope you remember me. I’ve been following your work, quite a bit in silence, and I bought the book the day I knew it was out.

    Just wanted to let you know that a few writer friends and I gathered together to make a podcast. It’s a for fun project, and not much traction, but I did try to plug DtD in it. If you’re interested, here’s a link.

    Hope all is well,
    -Aden Ng

    • Aden—I’m so happy to hear from you! Of course I remember you…one of our most loyal blog followers. It’s Thanksgiving here in the states and I am driving to see my family. Just listened to your podcast, and I am so touched and grateful that you chose our book for your game. Your friends’ guesses made me laugh out loud. Thanks so much for this! Hope you are doing well.

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