Respecting The Magnolia Tree Irrespectively

Up early – it’s becoming a good habit to get into.  Making sure my lad has a cooked breakfast before he heads off to his new job is a pleasure as well.  He has a lot more hope and contentment in him these past few weeks.  Wonderful.

It also serves notice how frustrating my own job search is.  Another rejection the day before.  I don’t mind the rejection itself but it’s the outright lies being used for why I’m being turned down that’s annoying.

To say that my job experience “wasn’t recent enough”, when I know full well they’ve been taking people on with no experience at all, is laughable.  Just tell me the truth.  I won’t bite.  Not the first time anyway.

Anyhow, deep breaths, let’s get calm.  Therapy day.  The weather is typically Caledonian.  Blustery yet warm.  A hint of rain while the sun streams through grey clouds.  I look upwards and smile a little.  The weather is a perfect metaphor of my mind right now.

Yet another different route to meet up with Lesley.  Through a prosperous, leafy area, in and out of the park, then a stroll down a very Celtic sounding street I’d never been to before.  Not a magnolia tree petal in sight though.  Never mind.  It’s set me on my way.  It’s all that matters, that petal all those weeks ago.

Lesley greets me with her customary warm smile and asks “How are you?”.  On autopilot, I blurt out “I’m alright.”  I’m not, of course, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.

I expand on it, wondering along with Lesley why not only I, but so, so many other people, automatically respond in the same way.  For me, it’s a defence mechanism.  If I’m going to suffer I’d rather it be without making a fuss.

My thinking is, as you can see, very very wrong.  She asks how I really am and we talk about my setback on Sunday, the upset of revisiting an old haunt of my ex and I, the flood of suicidal thoughts and internal crying.

The reason I went was because of a failure of something I’d promise Lesley I’d try to do a fortnight ago.  I didn’t say no to the trip.  Lesley is understanding though.  She says she was actually pleased I’d said yes because it meant I delivered on another promise of getting out of the house and some exercise.

I’d also expressed disappointment in my ex.  Regardless of whether we’re together or not, she hadn’t bothered to make any contact this week regarding a certain day that meant something to both of us – not as a couple but as a specific event.

It wasn’t about me, it was about remembering the day, and I’d have felt the same had we not ever been together as lovers.  I was told it was probably a good thing as it may have raised false hopes but I tend to disagree.  We’re finished.  It would’ve been nice to get contact on that day but what’s not done is not done.

Someone who did get in contact, as we all know, is the irrationally attractive woman who occasionally creates as much news as she reports.  I show Lesley the very complimentary action that Kay Burley took, following my twitter feed and retweeting a blog post to her thousands of followers.


Lesley’s eyes and face lights up.  It’s heartwarming to see a reaction like that.  She says that writing is a gift I have, that she wished she could write like I do, and the actions of the face of Sky News is evidence that what she’s saying is true.

But ah, my tortured mind.  Still there’s a whispering voice in my subconscious.  It’s telling me “She doesn’t know you.  And Kay’s only done that to make sure you don’t bother her too much on twitter.  You’re not that good, you know.”

It’s down to core beliefs.  Mine have been honed over decades of criticism from family, at work, even some friends.  I’m useless.  I’m not very good.  I’m unattractive.  It’s what I believe of myself, even as I write this.

We go through evidence against it.  The fact I’ve had numerous partners and lovers in my life.  The glowing praise for the blog.  Nice try, Lesley, but this won’t wash with me at the moment.

We delve into where these core beliefs came from, and what she wants me to do, not just for a day or a week or a month, but as part of my daily life, so that my core beliefs are re-molded into something far more positive and accurate.

She asks about the target core belief.  “Do you want to be liked?”  I pause and think about it for a while.  My answer is “No”.  I want to do the right thing, or at least what I truly believe is the right thing, whether people like it or not, or whether people like or dislike me for it.

I hit upon a phrase that takes me three attempts to say.  “I want to be irrespectively respected.”   To be thought of as someone who may or may not do the right thing, but acts from the best of intentions, and is admired for it.  Maybe I already am to some degree, and don’t realise it, so being consciously aware of that would be an equally noble aim.

We end up sharing one or two anecdotes about life in our teens.  One of them involves me mentioning a coffee advert from the late 70’s / early 80’s, and ask if she’s old enough to remember it.

Lesley smiles a little and asks me how I old I think she is.  I give an approximate age without thinking, an honest, instant impression.  I’m amazed when she confirms she’s a good 10-15 years older than what I thought.  She looks good in any case, full stop, but I’m genuinely speechless about how much younger Lesley looks than she actually is.  I have VHS tapes at home which look older than her.

“I feel like I’m cheating you”, Lesley says with that smile, “It doesn’t feel like therapy at all.  You’re like my star pupil.”  I smile and outwardly remind myself to bring an apple and ask for a gold star.

She’s right though.  It doesn’t feel like what I thought therapy was or is.  I do know that what she’s shown me about myself, her advice on how to deal with situations, and how she’s helping me confront the blocks in my mind that have held me back for decades, is working.  Slowly, surely, imperceptibly.  But working nonetheless.

I head home in the blustery sun.  I’m feeling drained – but in a good way.  Irrespective of anyone, of anything, my self respect is returning.  Ms. Depression, I’m handing you your notice.  Get out of my mind.  If you’re not gone in two months, I’m sending the bailiffs in.

The magnolia tree may have bloomed, but my day in the sun is yet to come.

And it will.


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