I go for the first session with a new counsellor. Of all the fascinating things in the world, what is better to contemplate than my navel? Yet I was anticipating humiliation, and as I walked from the bus was in defensive anger. In the summer a service had spent a long time scrabbling for an excuse not to see me, over three separate assessments quizzing me in detail about suicidal ideation, and still getting it wrong. In the waiting room, where I was half an hour early I found a 4′ high teddy bear, and this poem:
Um. Greater need than mine, perhaps, and completely negative. The poet’s mother is disabled by her own hurt. Still the offer of a cup of tea was welcome, and I accepted. Hospitality brings us closer. There was also a thank you card, pinned up in the waiting room, so I noted it- “You have taught me that not everyday is easy to get through but no matter what happens something good will always come out of it” which sounds like a desperate attempt to be positive in terrible circumstances. The gratitude is hopeful, but other services use this office so it could be for them.
I was back where I started. Summer 2011, I went to Midsummer camp and burned in the bonfire to rid myself of it the word “negativity”. A week or two later I awoke at war in the HAI workshop, with two separate trains of thought running through my head- “She [Uli] is awesome and that’s wonderful and this is so exciting and that’s beautiful” and at the same time “This is rubbish and that’s ridiculous and I can’t be bothered with it”. I had to choose, and with F’s help, I did. And more recently I wrote I am in Heaven and Hell: the breadth of my experience is such that both are appropriate metaphors, for different parts. I find the world glorious and unbearable.
That card again:
You have taught me to
not only stand up for myself but
to love myself and be confident in the person I am…
You’re the reason I can finally say I’m happy to be me
Wow. Possibly her first ever relationship where she was respected and valued for who she is. People do value me for who I am, but as I find it difficult to value myself I rarely see that.
I thought of calling this post Counselling CCL. Over twenty years I have had counselling weekly for long periods, probably averaging at least thirteen times a year. And I move forward. I see things. I am going round not in a circle but in a very tight spiral. My GP said “You are very intelligent” and I realised that I heard that as a judgment- why aren’t you doing anything with it? So now I can say, “I am very intelligent”. It is not a boast, and not a confession, but an assessment. This is one of the resources I have.
This public service which I am not paying for is time limited, to seven sessions, so I go in with a sense of urgency and get to my playful self. That is a way of seeing it; I must write how I see that Self, which will be poetry. I could call her “Positive” or all sorts of things. That is where my energy is.
OK. Positive, playful, creative. Crushed and denied for so long, and resilient, and always here. In a sulk, perhaps; not taking the advice of the inner rationalist- “Don wannoo”. Where the depth of my feeling, love, brilliance is. With some understanding of deferred gratification and the need to make provision for the future, I notice I am not taking the action I judge I should. I have strong forces within me, and I need to get them pulling in the same direction.
A counsellor said “You are a mass of scars” and I feel that is still a fair summation.
I have two speeds, “Captain the engines cannae take it” and dead stop, but where I am motivated I have huge drive.
This woman just seemed nice. I liked her. And, I am better trusting, I will get further if I trust, I can rely on the confidentiality and the basic decency of a person who would make a go of this kind of work over fourteen years.
I became present.
My self esteem is on the floor- or below it.
-What do you want?
These things seem inextricably linked for me. I want to work on- ah, that’s what to call her:
my low self esteem
getting my inner parts talking, and pulling together
bringing out my Beautiful Self.
And I may yet surrender enough to cuddle that teddy bear. I know it would feel good, if I could burst the barrier of judgment and shame.