Throughout my shouting in anger and weeping, I have been in a playful mood, never wholly overwhelmed, and I am in it now- along with the frustration, and the fear, and the perplexity. Waiting at the surgery for Yvonne the counsellor, I sit in a plastic chair beside a table. Accidentally I tap it, and notice how amazingly resonant it is! It could almost be used as a drum. That delighted me.
I felt in our third of six sessions that I merely stated the problem, rather than did anything to sort it. I went in wanting to discuss relationships at work, and Resilience- “Failure is not falling over, it is failing to get up again”, I quote, bitterly. What did you get from the last session? I am immediately angry and weepy, and find it hard to get the words out. I say a bit on that, then “I have two topics of conversation which might pass the time for an hour” and she picks me up on it- we are not here to pass time. And I am irked that she picks me up on the words I use: of course we are here to work. But it was when she said “It’s clear that you’re…” that I exploded. No, I am not. (Can’t remember what it was now.) So refreshing and wonderful, actually to shout at someone!
Am I upset about all this Old Stuff, and can I simply work through that old feeling and be free? Actually, it seems to me that I am upset about how things are now, which is subtly different, linked to that long chain of happening, but not the same as saying that was awful and I am still upset about it. I do not know what I want, because I cannot imagine ever achieving anything I wanted. Or, I want not to feel uncomfortable emotions, and that is my overriding aim at all times.
I tap her superficially similar low round table. Not remotely resonant. Disappointing.
How am I with other people? Well, I am terrified of their reaction, so I must be perfect at all times so that it will be alright. Hypervigilant- though this does not stop me knowing the Right Way to proceed, so that if a manager tells me what to do which is not the right way, I will ignore her. Well, it wasn’t. I was Right. And yet- in this moment with her, I am watching her, and any reaction is not because she is tired, bored or distracted: it really is all about me.
Apart from that I was simply restating the problem. She observes that I am hard on myself, needing to be Perfect (though Perfect according to my own Rules which have no relation whatsoever to reality or my interests) and I talk of not knowing what my feelings were, or not doing Toddlerhood properly, never mind teenage, or Graeme McGrath stating that psychotherapy would merely threaten my defences without provoking useful change.
A table that can be used as a Drum! Plato’s theory of Forms will need completely rewritten!
It is wonderful to shout at you, you get paid to take it! No, she says, only if she feels I am “making progress”. Just a little too far over the boundary, then. Leaving, I suggest to her next client we could just go for a coffee, and bypass Yvonne. We grin.