I’ve been dithering over the last few months. I’ve seen this as a struggle about delving into my past and talking to my parents about how I feel about their role in my confusion. The other side of me has wanted to set this aside and work on practical development such as thinking about food and HAES and trying to put me first.
Today’s counselling session reminded me that the true struggle is in fact about finding words to express how I feel. It’s not really about whether I say things to my parents. It’s that I can’t say them to anyone, that I have problems acknowledging what my feelings are to myself let alone to anyone else. I can be articulate in every other way but when I am asked “How do you feel right now” I still grind to a halt. I realise I’ve said this before but it’s still true. Even writing all these posts on HAES or even my autobiographical posts are avoiding answering that question.
We had quite an interesting discussion about what it is that made me feel uncomfortable in my sessions. Was it the situation, the counsellor, his gender, the imbalance in the relationship and so on. In truth it was none of these. I feel similarities with having a conversation with my parents, especially my father.
On those rare occasions when I have tried to have more than a superficial conversation with my parents, when I’ve had a point of view that I really wanted to get across I would always feel put on the spot. That it was up to me to explain myself, and if I could do so clearly enough then they would condescend to think about it. The responsibility was all mine to translate my thoughts into something they could understand using their language and their values.
What it meant as a child and still does now is that I anticipate these conversations with fear and dread. Had I marshalled my arguments correctly. Could I remember all the points. Could I remember to keep calm so I could speak clearly without letting any nasty emotions get in the way. If they didn’t understand it was my fault, not theirs. I could never say, for example, I want to borrow some money for a project because I want to do it. No, I would have to explain what the project was, why I wanted to do it, what I was going to achieve from it and how the money would be spent, whether I had best value. This whether it was for a radio-cassette player or a vocational course. The latter I ended up paying for myself to avoid the conversation. I also ended up deciding it would in be easier on my emotions to just go to a bank for a loan instead, whatever I was wanting money for.
In some ways I now feel the same way in counselling. I’m not comparing my counsellor to my father or mixing them up but at the same time the onus is on me to explain myself in our sessions. I do feel very tense during these sessions, more so than with previous counsellors who were more ‘mumsy’, who were less challenging but more comfortable. It’s this need to make sure I explain myself correctly that leads me to pause and think about what I’m saying rather than blurting it out and correcting any misunderstandings afterwards, which is what happens when I’m talking to one of my BFF. I am scared of saying it wrong.
And yet I am in a safe place at counselling. I trust my counsellor at least as much as I trust anybody, if not a bit more. I’m not worried that he’s going to turn round and laugh at me, or tell me I’m a snivelling wreck or any other such attitude. It’s not about him. It’s about me. It’s about my not wanting to let go of control, to flood myself with emotions and then feel a wreck. I cannot remember the last time I cried with someone else present. 2son said to me the other day as we were listening to descriptions of a drunk woman driving on the wrong side of the motorway for 23 miles before running out of petrol that he didn’t think he would ever get drunk as he didn’t like the idea of not being in control. All my life I’ve said that I didn’t like the idea of not being in control. I rarely get drunk and always regret it if I do. I’ve never smoked a joint let along taken anything stronger because I don’t want to lose control. I used to think that was a good thing and now I recognise that it’s part of a wider inability. Hearing 2son repeat my thoughts from the comfort of his own head sent shivers down my spine.
So having said all that, what do I do about it? Talk more next counselling, and possibly ask him to push me harder over the last few sessions.
Practice. Maybe I should write what I’m feeling, or at least identify it, several times a day. Maybe I should explore music more and try and play those that make me emotional. The same goes for films. I really don’t know how to get in touch with my feelings (and I do hate that phrase) or what to do.
I do know that I’ve come up to a brick wall in my journey. It’s a wall that I’d like to break through with my current counsellor, rather than having to work my way back to this place with the next one. Not that there would be anything wrong with that, but it would take more time. Part of me also insanely wants to ‘reward’ my counsellor with a breakthrough this year before he finishes.
I really don’t have a solution or a way forward to this.