It’s a lesson I never heed. Late night + early start = tired, drained body. Especially when your mind is constantly telling you “What’s the point? You’ll never come to anything. May as well stay in bed.”
I don’t, of course, which is a vast improvement on not so long ago. As I make my way to see Lesley, taking yet another different path, I muse that the improvement is more of a physical, practical variety. I’m doing the right things, saying the right things, and mostly thinking the right things.
The path I take to therapy is by the beach, and though there is sunshine, a big dark cloud is in the distance, with a breeze rapidly becoming a wind. Silent factors making a difference. It’s the same with me. Somehow there’s still this feeling of pain going through me, of uselessness, without articulating or consciously thinking it.
Despite the gloomy reverie, I’m in fairly good spirits when Lesley welcomes me in. All the same, it’s not a session I’m looking forward to. I’m making little progress, I feel, so I need to face down some of those demons. Lesley has a way of making you fight your own issues without it being confrontational but it’s uncomfortable all the same.
By now, all she has asked is “How are you?” with my time honoured say-nothing reply of “Okay” filling about three seconds of time but the room full already of understated tension. This isn’t going well.
One of my safety mechanisms is humour, which I suspect is many others. I’ve never been a joke teller, just wry and sometimes cynical observations of life. It’s exactly what I use now. I can’t remember the words, only the small laugh I manage to raise between us to ease my unease.
The session is punctuated with Lesley and I looking at each other right in the eye, between some pertinent questions, and I trying, really trying, to give what are, or at least what I perceive, are honest answers.
We cover the subject of the local elections last night. Lesley soon finds out that, politically, if I am or feel I am right about something, I will not and do not compromise. Right is right and wrong is wrong, even if it sometimes means in the world of parliament and councils that right is wrong.
There’s a patient, yet frustrated, pause from her. Lesley clearly wants to give me a good shake metaphorically. She says I have so much talent but it’s the lack of self esteem, the lowliness of self confidence, that’s holding me back.
The frustration is because I’d shown her my confident, almost commanding side in our talk, but won’t apply the same attitude to life and living. That grey cloud and wind is gradually creeping back from the beach and into therapy.
We touch upon previous relationships. I admit to being the victim of domestic violence on a couple of occasions. I never even thought about reporting it either time it happened, or leaving my partner. I never saw myself as a victim at the time, just as it being part of the ups and downs of a relationship.
Lesley was rightly dismissive of that attitude and I agreed that leaving her and reporting it would have been the best course of action then. It’s definitely something I’d do now too. I’d never let anyone raise a hand to me, and even if they tried to, would be talking about why they did it not to me but to a solicitor in a police cell.
All down to state of mind, though, was my misguided response to the assault way back when. I felt at the time I didn’t deserve any better. In a way I still feel I don’t deserve much better either. It’s so hard to explain why. I just do.
We meander on into my reticence in seeing friends. I don’t have many in any case but for most of the time, in spite of my depression, my crippling low esteeem, I actually prefer my own company. I mention that I sometimes feel detached from friends and that some of it is at least partly down to my feminism and being uncomfortable when sexism is exhibited.
It’s really an excuse for not going out, however, even I can see that. Lesley asks if I can make an effort to go out and see friends at least once a month. I make no promises, other than promising to try to. Something that simple yet I make it so hard. Why, why, why?
We also discuss how I’m embarrassed by my body, how ugly I think I am, to what extent it’s affected my sex life. Among it all is how I feel when I’m indulging in it, too, rather than talking about the act of it. Inadequate emotionally, irrespective of any physical good and bad points. Lesley says I’m not ugly, flat out, to which my guarded response was a sceptical look.
She then suggests that our next session, she’s going to give me a number of dating websites to possibly join up. I respond, almost aghast, and splutter that I don’t have a pic of myself, and in fact make a point of not having one. Lesley smiles, almost laughs, sensing my mood lightening up after I talk about a brief but fruitful experience of them over a decade ago. She will take my pic! Aarrrrgggghhhh!
We soon say our goodbyes. I’m pleased the session ended lightheartedly because there was some heavy, challenging dialogue. Which will come to the square root of sod all if I don’t act upon them myself in between sessions, and make the positive actions in my life regular, everyday habits. Much as I like Lesley, I don’t want to see her this time next year, in the same seat, saying the same things
The wander home is hardly picturesque. By the drab, dusty, fume filled main road to the shops. I’m sort of pleased though as my mind was awash with what Lesley and I talked about and I barely noticed anything around me. Going home via the park and seafront would have been wasted.
That’s something Lesley doesn’t want me to do. Waste my talents. Some of which I know I have, some of which she can see but I can’t yet. However many I have, one of these days, I will realise them. The untapped talents about to be unwrapped.
As soon as I’m done with being mentally undone.