#HomeToVote #voteYes #RepealThe8th

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I’m not Irish. It’s not my decision. It’s not my uterus at risk.

And yet I keep looking at twitter, looking at all these photos of people, mostly women but not all, flying off from some airport somewhere in the world to come home to vote. Some have a personal tale to tell, or that of a friend; many don’t. They’re just coming home because it’s the right thing to do and how often do you get the chance to really do the right thing? Someone tweeted this morning that her friend had literally just found out she was still eligible to vote so she was running for the airport.

Read this for a story:

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How many stories do you need to read about women who lost their life or almost lost their life because doctors weren’t allowed to do what they knew how to do because the law said no. The risk, the emotional anguish and heart ache all so much worse at a time of your life when you need all the support you can get.

There’s a facebook group where those who don’t have the right to vote are funding travel for those who can vote but can’t afford to. Once you’ve left Ireland for eighteen months you lose the right to vote and there is no postal vote other than for a few exceptions. So those who can’t are helping those who could. Visit Abroad for Yes if you want.

What gets to me is the sheer solidarity and compassion shown here. Normally when social media goes mad over some campaign there a litany of why are you getting excited about this when you didn’t get excited about that. And it’s often right. A reasonable campaign gets the piss taken because it’s not perfect. People are just getting together and joining in with love and good wishes if they can’t do anything else.

In this world it is very easy to think that those without power can’t do anything to make change. Oppression of women, of gay people. transgenders, disabled, black, not white, young, old is prevalent, to greater or lesser degrees the world over. And yet, those without the power are more numerous and capable of coming together in a great show of force. Belgium’s motto is “l’union fait la force”, or strength in unity and that applies here. It is so genuinely heart-warming to see people put aside their day-to-day lives to travel home to vote for something that *may* never affect them.

Anyway, love and best wishes to all those who are voting yes and sorrow for those voting no.

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What Happens to the Anger?

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You're not over it if it still makes you angry.

So I recently wrote a post on anger and all the people I am angry at. This list basically comprises my parents, my middle sister 2sis, one teacher in particular, and myself. I am less angry at boyfriends for being damaging twats and schools for being blind. I say less angry because I recognise that I hid my pain so school staff would have had to be paying attention to pick up on it and I chose my boyfriends because it was almost inevitable that i would pick men who would walk over me.

The question is though, what do I do with this anger?

There is no point in trying to have confrontations with my parents and try and get them to understand how much they buggered things up for me. I have tried it and I end up more emotionally drained than when I started and I don’t get any understanding from my parents, more a bewildered confusion as they try to work out what it is I’m blethering on about. I end up angrier. Also, and I don’t really know if this is still about protecting them or not, they are both 80+ and increasingly fragile and lacking sense of the world anyway so having a go at them would seem mean.

While my sister isn’t fragile I have to a great extent wiped her out of my life. We met up some five years ago for the first time in five years and talked for a few hours and that was the last time we spoke. I have no desire to do it again. What I realised after that conversation was that I still don’t trust her; I don’t know who she is; I don’t really care about her one way or another. She has shown minimal effort in wanting to get to know me and so have I. So we leave it there, which is fine except that it means I am never going to have any sort of reconciliatory conversation with her. Again, what’s the point?
Moving away from family to schools and teachers. Nowadays children who don’t speak the local language are much more commonplace and schools are a lot better at looking after them and integrating them. Teachers are a lot more aware of bullying and that unhappy children can be really quiet and well-behaved. Teachers still struggle to deal with it. After all they are supposed to be educators and not social workers and they can’t go and sort out parents for the child’s well-being even when they recognise the issue. However I would like to think that I would get more understanding if I was going through the same situation this decade.

My French teacher is probably dead by now. Even if she wasn’t and I tracked her down, what would I say? You were an unsupportive bitch and made me cry a lot? What would that get me?

I can now recognise that my choice in boyfriends or partners is poor, not because I’m a failure but because it is the natural consequences of my upbringing. My mother taught me to be passive and deceitful in a relationship and to hide my true feelings and never argue. My father taught me that what the man wants, the man gets, or else. There was the biting sarcasm and trenchant wit, the put-downs that my sister then repeated. He was master of the house with intellectual superiority. Despite writing all that down, I still feel that somehow, somewhen I should have worked out what I was doing earlier and stopped making bad choices with regards to relationships. As it was it was only ten years ago that I realised and went stop, no more. Whilst I think I would now make better choices, I’ve also become a lot pickier as well as being aware that my own self-esteem is still not strong enough to make me look at developing a relationship with anything but horror. Acceptance and regard for my own body is still some way off (something else to blame my parents for).

And that leaves me.

I am still angry with myself for making “bad” decisions, however much I accept the inevitability of them. I’m angry at myself for leaving it for so long to finally start working on myself. I haven’t really forgiven myself. This is something I still need to work on.
The other issue I need to think about when it comes to anger is, what do I do with anger now? I spent my childhood learning to not display temper or anger, to squash it and try and ignore it. I tried dealing with it my understanding why my parents were that way inclined and to feel sorry for their behaviour rather than scream and shout. That all helped diffuse the anger. But even now I simply don’t get angry. 3son drives me nuts at times. He is extremely frustrating. And yet I rarely get angry with him. I will tell him when he irritates me and why. I will express my annoyance. We may have a productive conversation about it or he may just get really defensive and it not be worth the effort. Sometimes he will tell me what an idiot he’s just been so I don’t have to bother. I will use words like frustrated, exasperated, infuriated which come so close to anger, but I will not say I’m angry. Am I still suppressing my anger or do I genuinely not feel anger?

That as a question sounds ridiculous. How can one deny ever feeling an emotion that is such an important one. I feel that I have transferred the anger into acceptance. My peers on my course tell me my demeanour when practising skills is that of calm acceptance with a willingness to hear anything. 3son told his girlfriend a year or so ago that he didn’t think he could say anything that would shock me. My meditation practice is transforming anxiety into calm and I have become a lot less stressed person. Have I transformed this anger into a positive acceptance and willingness to be open that makes me a better person? Do I need to dig up the anger from childhood, something that takes me a lot of effort to do?

I honestly don’t know what the answer is here. I feel the positive aspect of the increased calm and acceptance but I still don’t really know whether I’m ignoring an elephant in the room.

Breaking Confidence for Self Harm

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There were only six of us for this session which made for a surprisingly intimate group. We started off talking about the diploma, the heavier workload and the need for a work placement. There is some confusion over this as our tutor talked about finding one as soon as possible but the course handbook for the diploma says wait until you’ve been validated as being safe enough to be let loose on real people. A nice question for the interview. The assignments however are only slightly longer rather than double in length which is what I had understood so going up from 2,500 words to 3,500. There is a research project for the second year with no great details. The interview is booked for next month. All three of us who have applied for the person-centred diploma have interviews and on the same day so that will be a comfort. There is a group element to the interview. Last time it was have a group discussion and then write it up which I think was more to test whether you could write unaided, with just pen and paper and whether you could reflect upon a conversation while under pressure. The individual interview will no doubt discuss the course workload, whether we’ve considered it and how will we deal with the added pressure. That part does not worry me as I think I’ve thought about it sufficiently. I will miss those of us who are choosing the other pathway or who are not continuing. It will be interesting to see if we do keep in contact to any great extent after the course finishes. We have only three more sessions and are continuing to wind down and to feel as if that is what we are doing.

We then changed the tone completely and start talking about risk assessment and what to do when your client talks seriously about harm and self-harm. In light of the fact that we are to be let loose on real clients next year this is very appropriate.

We discussed the need for the agency for whom we work to have suitable risk policies and plans in place and that we should be suitably informed about them before starting work so that we make sure we are following the appropriate guidelines. There is a certain dry and practical element to this discussion.

There is however a conflict, or can be, between the legal duty and your own moral imperative which needs greater research.

We start off a session talking about breaking confidentiality with a phrase that now glides off the tongue saying something to the effect of “if I think you are at risk of harm to yourself or others I may have to talk to someone else for additional support. If that is the case I will try and discuss it with you first”. But what does that actually mean in practice?

Firstly, it means if a client talk about harm, to stop all other talk and focus on that. Is it “just” talk or is there a plan, a means, a vision. If it is meant then you need to take it further, talk to a colleague, get someone to phone whoever is appropriate. This may be the police or the GP depending on who the client is threatening to harm. You may need to call for an ambulance. This should all be done under the agency’s policy rather than you as a counsellor having to make your own decision, especially if it’s a work placement.

It’s not that easy though. Being able to work out whether a client means a threat depends on how well you know them, how long you’ve known them. You have to balance breaking confidentiality with saving someone from harm. What is your legal responsibility? I’m not quite sure. Professional responsibility suggests you should consider your own limitations. “There is no general duty to rescue in British law.” The Ethical Framework is unclear. Ultimately there was talk of note taking and making sure to refer it onwards/upwards to protect yourself. What happens if a relative of a client sues you for not stopping their suicide? Can you show that you took reasonable precautions.

I of course brought up assisted suicide. What happens if your client is making a well thought out decision to take their own life rather than go through a period of terminal medical decline. Do you have to take action? There were no clear answers to any of this, other than the need to be able to square your conscience with the law. Uncomfortable.

A Personal Loss Line

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Let’s start off with deaths, the most obvious and clearest loss:

My uncle N, my father’s brother who died stupidly as a teenager who my father never talked about. It took me a long time to realise that this son who my grandmother talk of was my uncle, would have been my uncle. I wonder how his life would have changed things.

My grandfathers – both died before I was old enough to know them, although my sisters did. I was jealous of them and thought it unfair. It still is.

B – the first person l knew who died, a friend of my grandmother in France. I found the equanimity of his family confusing. I did not attend his funeral.

Uncle F – my father wouldn’t let me attend his funeral, ostensibly because I would miss school, possibly because he didn’t want to travel with me to a funeral. I had spent some holidays with F and had good memories of him.

P&M My aunt ‘s poodles. When on holiday with them I would take them on walks and play with them. I keenly felt the refusal of my parents to consider a pet and these two were my make do. My sisters had a toy dog pyjama case named after them both.

T – As said at the time, we had lost touch and I was trying to find him. My sister heard he’d died and went to the funeral and told me after. I was so angry with her that anger overshadowed my feelings of loss. T was a friend from our first encounter aged fifteen until his death. I only have one other friend who knew me back then.

L- I remember the phone call well. My father made it and comforted me as I cried into the phone with the information that as she’d left four properties her children would get one each so that was all right. She’s been my second mother, taught me French, paid attention to me and taken me away on trips. At the end of every year she would invite all her students round and cook for 100-150 people without breaking into a sweat. She was amazing. She died of cancer, following her sisters in treating cancer homeopathically without conventional medicine and I didn’t know whether to admire her for following her beliefs or to feel angry at the stupidity.

My maternal grandmother: finally a funeral I could attend. The only one I’d been to before was a boyfriend’s mother’s partner who I’d never met so it was of no consequence. It was a good secular funeral and we commemorated her life rather than wept for her death. She went quickly after being diagnosed with cancer which was actually a relief to us all, her included. I still talk to her.

My paternal grandmother insisted on a Church funeral and I did wonder if she was laughing at finally getting her son into church. It was quite empty in comparison but it was what she wanted.

My aunt died of septicaemia after an operation for bowel cancer. My uncle had to decide to pull the plug on her which was not easy. She had never figured large in my life as my father didn’t get on with them and my mother had no independent relationship with them but I liked her as much as I’d been able. I was impressed by the number of people who came to the wake and talked about her so fondly.

And that reminds me of D, a local friend who died slowly of cancer who had a brilliant secular ceremony with all sorts of groups who had know her throughout her life standing up and talking about her. I sat there realising that I had barely scratched the surface of who she was but she was inspiring.

So there are the losses, some major, some minor, and I’ve left out the ones that didn’t impact me and the few celebrities who I did cry for. My mother and her mother were very matter of fact about death. My father didn’t really want to talk about it.

Moving on to moving homes…

Aged 1: we moved away and left my birth town. I wasn’t bothered at the time, but later I felt I’d lost that sense of belonging to my place of birth.

Aged 7: we moved abroad. I lost my sense of stability and routine, I lost my ability to communicate. I lost my friends. I lost a sense of having any ability to control my life. I lost quality time with my father and separately with my mother. The museum trips and theatre were severely curtailed for a long while.

Aged 14: we returned to England. We all lost. We had no home for the first six months. We borrowed friends’ flats until we rented our own. I lost a school I was beginning to settle into and friends I was getting close to and had to start again. I’d lost a city I’d grown to love. I’d lost a really good bedroom and garden. My parents forced me to get rid of half my books, a move they later acknowledged was a mistake, and the piano. I wasn’t very good at it but enjoyed it a lot.

In short, every time we moved, I lost out and felt caught up in a swirl of changes, none of which was my choice. Even as an adult, moving around the country never felt as if it was for me. Because, now that I think about it, it was always for my partner. Every move had more losses for me. Yes there were gains eventually, for some of them but it’s the losses that hurt deeply.

My last move was the luckiest of all. I remember when the borough housing department phoned me and said they’d got a house for me and it was the best one in the neighbourhood. A neighbourhood I didn’t know and now call home, for the first time ever. Thank you for social housing. It has saved my sanity.

There are of course other losses: boyfriends I abandoned, friends I lost or who lost me, people who could have been friends but never got there. Places and people I was happy to leave.

What are my feelings on all this, which is the question that matters here.

I do miss those no longer here, most especially my maternal grandmother and T. Sometimes that is tinged with anger when death seemed stupid. There is real regret at people I never got to know properly, who I feel I missed out on getting to know at all, or better. This is fairly straightforward compared to the whole range of emotions that I feel on moving. These are mostly reduced to loss, not just of things or places, but of feeling that I mattered in any of this, that I had any say in what happens in my life.

I Am Angry

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Anger is something that I am not used to expressing. It wasn’t permitted and my parents never used it. 1sis was the only one who ever got angry and it never did her any good. She would still end up in floods of tears. So I got used to squashing my anger, sitting on it, burying it and never ever expressing it. I carried on that pattern with partners so spent thirty odd years learning to ignore it. Letting it out is therefore not easy.

So what am I angry at?

I’m angry at my mother for not fighting more. For me and for her. She said she tried for the first few years of marriage but it didn’t get anywhere and she found it too painful. I understand that but it stopped her from being the person she could have been and it stopped her from coming in between my sisters and I except for on very rare occasions. I lost her as a trusted companion years ago, and although I accept that you can’t go back I missing that loving and close relationship we had despite its faults. She was my female role model and what she taught me was subservience to the man, constant worry and agitation, a lack of an independent life and an unwillingness to fight for herself. She also presented two faces to the world, one where she moaned to me about Dad’s inadequacies and one where she I was angry at my father.

I’m angry at my father. For putting work first and us second, for not being able to open up and be warm except for on the rarest of occasions. For terrifying me, for making me hate him, for making me feel sorry for him. When I found out that he hadn’t just applied for a job he’d seen advertised but he’d pushed to create the job abroad that only he could do I was angry for him for not considering me. He considered 2sis who was about to do her A levels and made provisions for her, but I would just get thrown into a francophone school and be fine. I was angry at him for not listening to me, for not paying attention to who I was but just telling me how to be more like him. I was angry and so frustrated that he would never admit he was wrong. I was angry at him for not giving me choices, for being mean on presents, for dismissing anything he didn’t want to pay attention to. I was angry at him for not really believing I was car sick, or hungry, or needed the toilet when it wasn’t convenient for him to stop. I was angry at him for thinking my tears weren’t important.

It’s not just my parents of course.

I’m angry at 2sis for taking out her anger at my parents on me, for diminishing me and mocking me just to bolster her own ego. She copied her father really because she felt insecure.

I felt angry at schools and teachers for not recognising there was anything wrong, especially at Mme Van Der Steen for bullying me rather than supporting me in class. None of the teachers picked up on the bullying or did anything about it.

I’m angry at my first boyfriend for making me cry so many times and then for threatening suicide when I tried splitting up with him. He paved the way for a succession of bad relationships.

I’m angry at my dad for thinking it’s OK to let me go and live with his mistress and that I wouldn’t find out and neither would my mother. For being so insensitive and just plain stupid.

I’m angry at me for buggering up my A levels and not going to university and for not picking a better drama college. I’m angry at my dad for paying no attention to what I wanted to do and at my mother for not feeling able to intervene at this major point.

I’m angry at me for letting it all happen. Even though I know have a better understanding that such things follow almost inevitably one from another I just wish I’d woken up sooner to what was happening to me and made better choices decades ago. I’m angry at all the wasted time.

Transactional Analysis and Endings

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Needless Alarms 1886 by Frederic, Lord Leighton 1830-1896

Needless Alarms 1886 Frederic, Lord Leighton 1830-1896 Presented by Lady Aberconway 1940 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05120

Addiction was on the timetable but I think we needed a change so we had a basic introduction to TA.

The short version, and we didn’t have time for the long one, is that we are always in one of three ego states, or phenomenological realities, or modes to pick a shorter word:

  • Parent – when you are telling someone what to do or instructing them. Parents are either nurturing or critical
  • Adult – I think of this as being the grown-up: being responsible, honest, thoughtful
  • Child – the instinctive response. The child is either free, able to enjoy life and be creative, or adapted, depending on whether parents were nurturing or critical.

At any time we are using one of these modes to react to events. We then considered the interaction between these modes in people. If someone behaves like a Child the immediate reaction is to behave like a Parent. It’s not necessarily the right one, or the response we verbalise but we need to recognise these transactions between different modes in order to better react.

In our brief discussion about this essay several of us expressed dissatisfaction. A peer said in check out “I’m sorry you’re all having problems with it but I’m glad I’m not the only one”. I did get a few tips that will help with it but I will be so glad when it’s done. This led us on to talk about finishing essays. I said in PD that I would feel a huge sense of relief when this is over as I’ve neglected other writing and thinking as well as not reading round the subject as I need to focus on the assignment. I get writing prompts in therapy which I’m not able to fulfil as I’m focusing on the assignment and therapy is more important.

The next few months before the next course starts will be a time for reading and reflection although there will also be some thought as to how I am going to manage next year if I struggle with this year’s course load. One of my part-time jobs has virtually disappeared to nothing because I can’t be bothered and no-one is putting pressure on me so it’s just dropped. I will have to put some effort into getting it going again and becoming more sustainable with minimal effort.

We also talked in PD about endings. The suggestion was to bring in an object that represented us and our year but I said no quite loudly to that. I was amazed at how quickly I just refused to contemplate anything that represented me. I did suggest Monopoly or a favourite toy but we ended up compromising on an object that isn’t necessarily an object. I plan on reading one of 2son’s poems, either the one on suicide or the short extract on me, or both. Despite the fact that he irritates me like mad, especially at the moment when he keeps missing important deadlines I think his poetry shows real heart and feeling, despite him telling me the other day that he doesn’t do feelings. At that point he just scares me.

The statue above is Needless Alarm by Lord Frederic Leighton. I saw it at the Leighton House Museum before the course and I’ve never been so tempted to shove something in my pocket and walk out. The curves are beautiful and this is not the best angle. Here’s another one showing different curves.

Needless Alarm, Leighton

 

Personal Development over the Last Year

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Enlightenment is the quiet acceptance of what is

An essay on personal development was the one essay I was looking forward to doing this year as I have plenty to say.

Unfortunately once I read the criteria this is not for general personal development but for personal development resulting from interaction when using counselling skills. This is somewhat limiting, to say the least. I am frustrated by the essay so I thought I’d write the one I want to write.

I have changed a lot over the last year.

I am finding my inner calm. Daily meditation most days has resulted in my stressing less and not getting quite as wound up as I used to. I cannot recommend enough the Calm app which has been perfect for me.

To some extent as a consequence of this my alcohol consumption has diminished, both in frequency and in quantity, which in itself is no bad thing. I’m more aware of my body reacting to alcohol  and would prefer to stay relaxed.

I have felt the need to leave the house in the evening less. I have craved less for generic adult company. This is because my children are growing up and are more companionable when we do talk and less difficult to deal with. Maybe I’m also reacting to them better.

I have put greater effort into keeping up with those few friends I really want to. I have got better at initiating contact and making arrangements.

It seems a small matter but I have succeeded in swapping my daily routine and working on me or my sons before I start working in the day. It is a specific change in priorities.

An even smaller matter, seemingly, is that I’m getting in touch with my sweet tooth. I’m starting to eat peanut butter, jam, sweeter ice cream just a little bit more often. I’ve always stayed with the tart lemony puddings or sorbets and the less sugary ice creams. I’ve been trying to pay attention when I feel like something sweet and actually have it.

I’ve been eating more fruit. My parents were never fond of fruit but always had apples and satsumas in a bowl and ate them because they are good for you. The occasional pineapple was a treat and my father would carve it up after much discussion of the best way. I have been shaking all that off and going for mangos and melons, sometimes in chunks in little plastic pots that make me feel guilty.

I go through phases of being a bit more active and going out for walks, sometimes for twenty minutes and sometimes for a couple of hours. I have tried to stop telling myself off when I don’t.

In therapy I am trying to force myself to concentrate on the important stuff but it’s not easy and I am so willing to sidetrack myself. Over the last few months I have been trying to get more in touch with the “inner child”, with the way I felt as a child. Not the narrative, not what happened, but how I felt as a result. Hence the few letters that I’ve written to me and to both parents.

What have I learned from this so far? I have well and truly buried past emotions as there was never any point in complaining hence I just squashed it all and that stayed with me with subsequent partners. At the time I was aware of some of what I was suppressing, but not all. So I find it difficult to remember how I felt without really thinking hard about it. I’ve never been one for reminiscing about my childhood. I also do not like to lose control. Since I was not allowed to get angry I learned to keep a stiff upper lip and to keep my tears for privacy. Eventually of course it was a matter of pride that I wouldn’t let my father see me cry so I ended up doing the opposite of what I wanted to. I bottled everything up. I still don’t tell them anything. Now that feels out of choice rather than necessity but it is still because I don’t want to have the arguments with them as I won’t win.

My inability to lose control, or my unwillingness, has meant that although I got drunk as a teenager, and indeed as an adult, I never got falling drown drunk and I never blacked out as a result. For the same reason I would never, could never do drugs. I did promise 1son when we discussed this that if I ever would smoke a spliff I would do it in his company first. I doubt it will ever happen. I have also felt the need to keep control for the sake of my children. When they were younger I didn’t want them to see me unhappy or angry or in a mess and I have had to learn to let them see me in such ways so they appreciate that I too am human.

Do I need to let my anger out? I need to acknowledge it and that’s another post to do. I need to hear that child who felt so ignored and so frustrated.

Eating Disorders

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eatingdisorder beat

I found this session really interesting, especially people’s differing opinions, on the topic of Eating Disorders.

I am currently reading The Angry Chef‘s excellent book which overlaps in agreement with aspects of Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size. It also, funnily enough, taps into my mother’s food mantra (when she’s not on a diet, that is) of everything in moderation. He debunks diets for weight loss and diets for cures to all sorts of unmentionables. He does this in an entertaining and informative way. We discussed none of this.

We talked about the need to refer to a GP or specialist, separating out the medical issues from the mental health ones, and how they were interwoven.

We talked roughly about bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating. We discussed how difficult it would to recognise these from physical symptoms (which can look much like other illnesses or drug addiction). We talked about the verbal cues that would need to be picked up, the way in which food is discussed, self-image and other casual remarks that could help form part of the jigsaw.

We discussed disordered eating and its relationship to eating disorders. One person clearly had experience of supporting friends with disordered eating. Many were clueless.

We quickly touched on role of media and all the rest of it in impacting on people’s self-image and a brief chat about how much of this is new. A history looking at people’s body shapes and how perception of beauty has changed over time (and cultures) would be an interesting read, even more so if it looked at history of diets. There’s so much I would like to know.

Anyway I mostly kept quiet, thinking if I started explaining HAES and calling bullshit on diets we might never stop. Also, and more honestly, I didn’t want to put myself out there.

This term feels like a series of brief introduction to various serious topics and I wonder if they would have been better dotted around the course.

We then went back to triads starting with a new set until the end of term.  I got my second tutor observation which I actually found less nervous than the first time so that is an improvement. The other two said afterwards that they get the same criticisms from the tutor: stop making statements with a questioning intonation that doesn’t necessarily come across and turn them into empathic responses; stop starting comments with “so…”; and, for me, be careful of both use of humour and nervous laughter. I found it easier to listen to these comment positively but there was a relief to hear my peers heard the same thing. As an observer, I proceeded to count my speaker’s phrases starting with so and she managed many more of them. I found it easier to point this out as we’d discussed it.

I was distracted throughout by various messages and scenarios that were coming through my phone. 1son was picking up 2son for the first time and 3son got himself an interview and I got told that 2son’s SEN case officer had moved on leaving me to start again. This distracted me but yet I fell we’re just marking time now and it doesn’t matter. We did have a short time to offer feedback on the course and we did say that it needed to be better spread out throughout the year. I did speak. I hope we can make proper practice of the skills sessions in the remaining few weeks. As it is we’re all friends now and that makes it really difficult to start again and take it all seriously.

The above image was taken from Beat, a charity offering support to sufferers of eating disorders and their carers. Support is also available on 0808 801 0711 (youth) or 0808 801 0677 (adults).

The Summer Term Starts

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Well actually it started last week during those four days of summer we had. Never mind.

What a day. We started off looking at our portfolio, making sure we understood what was supposed to be in it and how. It shouldn’t have taken an hour but it did. Administrative clarity is lacking and seemingly over complicated so it took us a while to get our heads round it by which time we were all complaining that it was so stupid. A clear explanation in the course handbook might have helped.

We then spent time doing our personal loss line, which I am going to try and write out. Listing out everything/one we had lost over the years, whether positive or negative was unpleasant. I was reminded how angry I was with 1sis when she spent twenty minutes babbling on about her holiday and then mentioned that she’d been to one of my closest friend’s funerals but hadn’t had time to mention it beforehand. We’d lost touch and I’d spent a year or so trying to track him down. I was very aware that I didn’t know dates of events, especially for deaths. I could just about remember which house I was in at the time. It didn’t really matter when. I’m not sure that it does. The deaths were somewhat easier to deal with than the losses of childhood, stability, sense of value and all those other personal losses that are actually more important.

We then paired up in new pairs and talked about them. I talked about my loss of happy childhood and my struggle to take the next step, whatever it is. I flubbed as listener and didn’t really summarise at all. It was weird as although we were starting with someone new, they weren’t actually new and there was a level of familiarity that made it feel that it was neither new or old but somewhere in between. So I wasn’t best pleased with myself but other than it I found it enjoyable.

In PD we talked about our personal development essay. Once again there was a lot of staring at the floor. It turns out that C, who is normally quite vocal, especially after other vocal people have left, is experimenting with keeping quiet and has said nothing these last two times. I did ask her after the last one if she was all right as I had noticed her silence.

There is a general feeling of wrapping up, that the remaining sessions are all about tidying up loose ends and marking time until we’re done. This isn’t really true but we only have one more essay to go and it feels like we’re done. The course really isn’t mapped out well across the year, with sessions not evenly spread nor assignments or content. It could be better. I don’t want to waste the remaining six sessions.

Calming Changes

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It seems to have been a roller-coaster of a month with so many changes and events, not least in me.

I have now been using the Calm app for a daily meditation for about six months and the odd days when I miss are getting fewer. I have completed over 200 meditations since starting which seems like a good number. But it’s not the number that has got me excited but the fact that I have changed and my inner core has become calmer and less agitated. I simply feel more at peace and this has been a revelation. We’ve still had the usual stuff going on, looking at 2son’s funding and plans for the year, and 3son’s inability to do things the easy way when there’s a hard way instead.

All these things happen and they still freak me out but I am now worrying less about them and am better able to let go. Of course it’s not just the meditation.

I have pushed at therapy. We have both pushed. Trying to get in touch with that little girl who hated her childhood and her dad, rather than rationalising it, understanding it and being nice about it. This has led to me writing letters from head to heart and vice-versa as well as to my parents. I’m not done yet. There is definitely more to come. I have a better understanding of my childhood, of my parents and how it has all affected me. What I need now, and have done for quite a while, is to find a way to let go of it all, or to become reconciled, or accept it. I don’t really know what the word is but I need to be able to stop it ruling over me. My next homework is to write a post about all the things I am angry at, no excuses, no nice understandings. I also need to really think about all the positives that came out of it. How it taught me to become fiercely independent, to value autonomy and to recognise people’s right to make their own decisions as to how they want to be and how they wish to live their life.

I also didn’t quite expect the impact the counselling course would have on me. I expected it to have some impact but didn’t realise how much. Ideas have been bouncing between therapy, theory, skills practice sessions, personal development, and this journal. They bounce around and get deeper with every bounce.

I’ve also lowered my alcohol consumption dramatically. Not by deliberately trying, but just because I don’t feel the need. I’ve continued to go out less, in a positive way rather than in a hiding from the world way and even when I am out I’m drinking less. Of course the less I drink the greater an effect it has on me and therefore the less I feel like drinking. I’m also drinking less at home and I wasn’t drinking very much as it was.

I’m getting out of the house a bit more. I’m aware more of being stuck at home and not liking it. It’s curious, that I’ve spent so many years relishing being at home and finding my routine dictated to by school runs twice or three times a day that when it all stopped I then really enjoyed being able to stop at home. It’s now beginning to grate on me. Not because I’m trying to get out for a walk because it’s good for me, but because I’m trying to get out because I want to. The weather helps of course and I am forcing myself to ditch work and go out to enjoy the sunshine, regardless of what is on my to do list because it’s so temporary.

I haven’t quite got around to starting my last essay of the year on personal development over the year but I have finished my application form which includes 500 words on self-review so there has been a fair amount of self-reflection and reflection on personal development. There will be more by the time I’ve finished the next masterpiece.