Another moment, another day, another week. I’m getting through them. Small steps, as someone keeps reminding me, and to stay strong. It sounds cliched but it feels right an awful lot of the time.
The steps seem to go backwards at times, though, which is why, yet again, I’m sat in an uncomfortable, gloomy, grimy reception area, the low ceiling blocking out natural light. Perhaps there’s a subconscious contrast at work. After sitting in here, in a run down part of town with a high crime rate, any time spent with a therapist seems to improve the mind and soul, whatever is said and done.
As it turns out, Anne knows her stuff, so here we go. Warm smile as we make our way to a tiny, impersonal room. Then the small talk as I fill in that scores on the doors form. Pretty much the same levels of depression, stress, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
It would have been so much better up until the weekend. Anne looks at me with those big eyes inquisitively, yet with a slight hint of bewilderment, it seemed. I mention that Sunday was spent pining for my ex, missing her terribly. I didn’t mention the thoughts of suicide. I guess I thought it was implied that I would think these things in that state of mind.
Anne asks why. For a while I’m lost for an answer. I grope unconvincingly that maybe walking past where she used to live on the way to and from voluntary work may have seeped in. I consciously stopped myself from specifically looking for her again, though.
There was also someone I thought was a friend had something revealed about her which was a little unsavoury and duplicitous, affecting the entire friendship. Again, though, consciously at least, my mind was decisive. She’s gone, from my considerations, and in future my thoughts. The cut was fairly painless.
Still, however, it doesn’t explain Sunday’s actions. Perhaps the latest rejection of paid work, however, was the tipping point. After going through the hoop jumping of two interviews, and demonstrating how I have not only the brains but the experience for the job, I was brushed off. I had the experience they wanted. It was deemed ‘not recent enough’ though.
I was, and still am when thinking about it, infuriated. I’m not sure how much more recent I can get than 2014. If they don’t want me because they thought I wouldn’t fit in, or they could get in someone younger and cheaper, tell me. Don’t instead fob me off by making up flimsy excuses, insulting mine and theirs intelligence. No wonder they cost the taxpayer billions in the recession if this is how they make decisions.
With that off my chest, we actually got on with the problem at hand, why I have such a lasting, ongoing problem with penetrative sex. Questions, of course, were varied, and went from how I felt looking for certain things online right back to my childhood, searching for some sort of recurring cycle of behaviour. At least that’s how I saw it. There was never anything as a child that would have me needing or wanting to call Childline so behaviourial patterns it has to be in my eyes.
The long term relationship I had, way back in the 90’s, we talked through as well. For the first time I talked about it with emotional honesty. We may have loved each other for a while, but for the most part the relationship was built more on our good points outweighing our bad points, and getting on. Settling for something instead of waiting for that truly loving relationship.
Anne asked if there was something in my head telling me that it was all I deserved. I thought back to my ex-partner’s father one night. Maybe it was the denial from his own life, or disappointment of how her daughter turned out, but he said “You couldn’t have done better than her. But she could’ve done better than you.” Maybe that had more effect than I realised.
After all, while with her, I had that ‘thunderbolt’ moment, when eyes met with another across a bar. But I gazing at someone else. Every sinew in my heart and soul wanted to be with that woman. I never said a word though. Nor did I ever react to increasingly unsubtle come-ons from one of her friends.
Perhaps I felt I didn’t deserve to chase love, desire and happiness, and settling for okay was the safest way to be. If I did feel that, maybe that Dad saw the signals and was trying to break things up sooner, without her little girl being hurt, rather than the later when it inevitably finished.
After these uncomfortable questions and equally awkward thoughts and answers, Anne unpeeled something. From a young age, I’ve somehow got it into my head that acts of love and affection towards me are to be viewed suspiciously, despite me being an openly loving soul, and being deeply, deeply in love until early this year. And, if truth be told, still in love, despite her absence.
We move onto cheerier things. The physical exercises to enhance my levels of intimacy and comfort are going well. I find that I can feel aroused to a very deep level yet still able to hold off climaxing. Anne asks what I was thinking of at the time, really pleased with my progress. My immediate answer is Sharon Stone, answered firmly.
The fantasy itself isn’t quite as steamy as it seems though. It’s from her at the time of Basic Instinct. Yet it’s none of the leg crossing shenanigans or other sex acts that I think of. All we are doing is walking down a street, hand in hand, and occasionally we glance at each other, our eyes smiling, feeling that closeness and intimacy. It makes my breathing quicker to even type that. Which is probably symptomatic of why I have such a mental block sexually.
We also touch upon the woman with whom I have what seems an irrational attraction for, but which in reality is perfectly reasonable. I talk about Kay Burley, coming across, to me at least, as sharp and incisive on tv, with a touch of wit in her twitter feed. She’s also carries on being herself, despite the dim view certain section of the media, the public and my friends have of her, a really admirable mental toughness.
I belied all that plausible reasoning, though, in the end, by blurting out “She’s lovely!”. Anne smiled warmly at my slight humiliation, a rare moment of unadulterated emotional honesty coming out. It’s not something I could ever say to Kay either. If we ever met, I’d probably have my eyes looking towards the floor, mumble a little. And probably curtsey, embarrassing us all.
On that slightly uncomfortable note, the early afternoon sun lifted the gloom and grime. How do I feel? Mixed up, uncertain, and unsure. Yet, in spite of that, I feel Anne is getting somewhere with me. Finding the crux of the matter. On a base level, Anne is in touch with my instincts. If she can see them, she can also see where I’m going wrong, and where the road to recovery lies.
Until then, though, the sunshine, and Sharon Stone’s hand in mine, will do for me.