I got the email from college to say I had passed my external portfolio. I had to say that I read it four times checking it was addressed to me and that it really did say that I had passed, so much had I assumed that I would have to redo some of it. I half expected to get a corrective email apologising for the wrong communication. I only told a select few until I had confirmation from the awarding body the following week.
So I can now call myself a qualified counsellor. Yay!
It’s an appropriate moment to pause and reflect on how I got here.
My journey towards personal growth started around sixteen years ago when I finally got rid of my abusive ex-partner and became single. I then quit smoking, something he had prevented me from doing as he wasn’t going to do the same. I started putting on weight, which distressed me greatly. Whether it was from quitting smoking, or the natural weight increase from menopause or just a change in stress level I will never no. I still struggle with accepting my size and not wishing to be thinner. I have given consideration to the principles of HAES, Intuitive Eating and the various shades of non-diet mentality and absorbed many of them.
It’s taken me a lot longer, until the past few years to find a mode of exercise that I enjoy and that I can maintain. I’m now in my third year of Pilates with The Balanced Life and enjoy, not just the increase in body strength but also in body awareness. I can see or feel muscles tightening and curves changing shape. I’m aware that I can hold positions better and do some of the more challenging exercised that defeated me on first attempt. There is positive feedback to a small amount of exercise and long may it continue.
Since the first lockdown due to COVID in March 2020 I borrowed my son’s exercise bike and have been doing daily cycles in front of the television, covering some 4,500 km last year, cycling 20km most days.
I spent several years getting counselling from trainees which was a good start for me although the variance in quality led me to quit. A group series on increasing self-confidence prompted me to return to counselling and I found my previous counsellor with whom I worked for almost 4 years. I moved on to my current counsellor where the focus has been on EMDR.
My journey towards becoming a qualified counsellor has taken four years and I am not sure if I would have started had I known how hard it would be. I had not realised how hard I would find the written work and I still haven’t fully understood that. I have learned a lot about myself: I overcame my resistance to creativity to create a mindmap of myself at the beginning of the Diploma which was a valuable and have kept my notes on my personal development essay for further exploration.
What is next? I still have a central kernel, a nugget, a nub, a solid core that is unresolved which is what led me to EMDR. It’s as if I have taken all my insecurities, my feelings of not belonging, of low self-confidence and self-esteem (what is the difference?), of being judged, all the pain, and put them together in this blue mother-of-pearl (or possibly moonstone) and buried it deep inside of me. I have got better at leaving it wrapped up and to one side and getting on with life without looking at it but this has consequences.
I’m not as open as I’d like to be. I still struggle to make friends and fewer people from my course have become friends that I will keep. Job interviews scare the crap out of me. I do not voice my own opinion enough, for fear of having to defend my views. I don’t get angry, or at least not out loud. I never shout. I rarely cry, and never in company. I am warm, loving and open with the people who are close to me but the barriers are still up for everyone else.
I want to do something about this nugget, but it scares me. I’ve taken weeks to get round to writing this and to skim through some of my past writing to connect myself back with all these vulnerable emotions that I try not to dwell on. Dear Mum summarises much of the source of this pain.
I’m also trying to have a break! This is the first time that I have no major pressure on me in 30 years really so I’m trying to relax and that conflicts with doing the work and I am struggling with that conflict.