therapy journey

My journey to better mental & spiritual health

Tag: counselling

And then I realised I was the earthchild.

The title of this post comes from a creativity meditation I attended a couple of nights ago. I felt it strongly and powerfully and it made my aching soul sing just a little bit. I’ve been feeling strangely misaligned recently – that really is the best word for it. My intentions are out of kilter with my reality, my perception isn’t in accord with true nature, and I’m failing to see abundance and joy some of the time. I’m experiencing anger rising sometimes. I’m rubbing up against people’s bad sides. And I’m experiencing that most ungodly of all emotions: fear.

However this is just one small part of who I am today. Yes there’s fear, neuroticism, panic, worry, anger, paranoia and doubt. But there are also measures of true authenticity, joy, laughter, the ability to see absurdity, as well as magnetism, happiness and the pure sublime. Above all the feeling is freedom, which propels me forward in a world without limits.

My wishes for this most sacred of times, the winter solstice of the year 2014, are to trust myself, to live with authenticity and to see the abundance that is all around. I also wish to be kind to myself, although I find this concept the hardest to understand let alone put into practice. I wish to acknowledge some of my struggles of the past as I work hard to put them behind me. There is literally no time for the past.

A friend sent me the link today to an article which puts everything I wanted to say better than I ever could on this auspicious day. We learn that by facing up to our deepest, darkest emotions we can move forward.  I believe that no-one is broken and ‘healing’ is a redundant concept but I agree with the sentiment that self-forgiveness leads to the release of toxic and self-sabotaging patterns. However challenging this may prove to be, writing about it here is one of the steps to making it reality.

As part of the ‘releasing the darkness’ stage, we are urged to write an intention, and then burn the paper on which it is written, followed by smudging sage. I am not doing this myself because I can’t get my head around rituals yet, coming as I do from a tradition full of them, and finding pain and inauthenticity there. Rituals still freak me out. Nevertheless the words Syma Kharal uses are beautiful and I wanted to share them here:

“Dear Higher Self/God/Spirit/Universe: No matter what has happened in the past, I am now willing to release everything about it that brought me fear and pain. I surrender to you all that no longer serves me for healing, cleansing and purification. Help me to forgive and be forgiven by all involved. Align my vision that I may see everything from your enlightened perspective and move forward with wisdom, grace, strength and love. So be it.”

Speaking of rituals, it is my fond hope that in the future I overcome my fear of ritual and prayer, and participate in spiritual rituals in order to experience what’s called “liminality”, derived from the Latin limen meaning boundary or threshold. These boundaries might separate the sacred from the profane. A ritual is a dynamic and engaged creative prayer that allows us to set aside the time to recognise, honour and celebrate seminal aspects of life. I’m currently reading about this in ‘The Red Book’ by Sera Beak. The book is all about igniting one’s divine spark and is intended as a no-nonsense guide for young women.

It’s a very inspirational book that I wish I could have read fifteen years ago. But – no regretting the past in any way, shape or form, as the present time is all we have. That’s why the present is a gift. Beak writes that when we open ourselves up to the divine,

“[…] life becomes much  more flavorful. Profound meaning illuminates even the most mundane of events. My relationships deepen. My voice becomes clearer. My work excels. My personal issues become less draining and dramatic. I am less affected I require less outside approval. My self-confidence beams. I laugh more. I judge less. My sexuality roars. Random acts of kindness become a necessity, not just a whim. […] My perspectives are amplified. I see the world around me at much more than face value, and as a result, I make clearer choices across the board […] I realize I’m not just some well-dressed biped trudging through life but actually an incredibly powerful and integral piece of the divine pie.”

She’s a spunky chick and I aim to go deep with my learnings into my divine spark and how to enhance it and be true to myself. Remembering always that authentic divine truth never separates people from each other, countries from each other, religions from each other. I’m receiving the tiniest spark of divinity but it’s possible to smother it with too much kindling, or to let the fire go out without the right nurturing. I want to see this through. Intention is everything. There will be times when I am rude to people. There will be times I am frustrated and utterly disappointed. I will continue to be angry some of the time, because this is a divine part of me, but these will be fewer and further between, I hope, as intentions and reality align. I am the earthchild, I am divine, I am myself, I am everything and nothing.

“It’s all about paradox, mystery, meditation, sexuality, long walks, and momentous haircuts.” – Sera Beak, ‘The Red Book’.

abundance

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I am filled with gratitude for the love that I am here to create.

Monday 3rd November 2014

On the same day I attended TJ Woodward’s Authenticity Group, I went to a meditation and conversation group run by Claudia on trusting your intuition in order to improve your outcomes. I have written about my previous block in this area. In contrast, the new me has promised to trust myself. There were long stretches in my life when I truly believed I was less than human. I heard so many positive messages around me and I didn’t miss out on the one about trusting yourself, but I thought it didn’t apply to me because I was ‘different’, a cosmic mistake somehow. I sought direction and validation from other sources, everywhere but within.

I feel very relaxed when I attend these groups. Even though typically I don’t know anyone else there, because I am trying a lot of things for the first time, I feel more filled with confidence than if I were alone. I speak, I share, and I really get in touch with my deep spiritual self. I receive great responses from people which make both my ego and my soul sing. I connect. I write down avowals like ‘I so want to be true to myself’ and ‘I so want to leave behind the spiritually vacuous’.

In this Intuition group, we sat on a comfy sofa in a homely environment. I was 45 minutes late because I had overslept and so was late for my lift, but even so I felt instantly welcomed. Claudia speaks so fluently and with deep conviction. She said that we are God and we are created in his image. The body is part of who we are but we are so much more than that. It allows the God within us to exist on this plane. As the only vehicle we have, the first gift back to God is to give our body temples our ultimate love. She gives us the gift of life so we give her the gift of health. Today I promised to look after my body.

The guided meditation was beautiful and peaceful. To trust our intuitions and call into being greater things, we seek oneness with our higher selves. Of course, without negative emotions we wouldn’t have access to the doorway that leads to oneness. Without ego we would not exist. But when seeking the God within us, the way is silence. It’s a straight and very simple line between me and God. We love and respect our ego but we sometimes we turn it down, tune it out and listen to the higher self. Organised religion is created by man and isn’t pure. In fact it’s pretty filthy and most them are as far removed from spirituality as it’s possible to be.

Claudia calls the meditative state one of being in-between. I now see the benefits in and of itself. Three minutes every day is enough, though one member of the group meditates for three to four hours each day. When you practise, Claudia reckons, what comes will be greater than our imaginations. I believe this. Trust, faith and belief are what comes. Don’t let doubt creep in. One technique she used was visualising white light flowing into the crown chakra or through the third eye. It’s very powerful imagery that helps when entering the in-between state.

This is just so beautiful, isn’t it? Living a life of giving to receive automatically. Being a conduit for whatever energy is waiting to be expressed. I felt it when I meditated there. This was a day that I realised how powerful energy is. I knew for the first time that I am made from the same spirit as the universe.

We were created in the image of God to thrive, not just survive. The reality of making a living is illusory and the result of indoctrination. We are all already hypnotised. We multitask by driving, talking on the phone, listening to the radio and drinking coffee all at the same time. The unconscious does all the work! Harmony comes when the lower and higher selves work together.  Ask your higher self whether something is real or not and you will know.

During one of the meditations Claudia used a well-known NLP technique (called anchoring or the power button as I like to say) in which we learn to associate a happy memory with bodily sensations of happiness. Coming back to the memory using the accompanying bodily trigger creates a neural pathway which supposedly allows us to relive the happy time. It’s never really worked for me, but one thing at a time.

The experience was wonderful. It is lovely to speak openly, to meditate together, to learn so much, to feel connected and to meet others. I feel very calm after these events. I know I have used my energy to improve my entire life.

always the sun

Authenticity, energy, abundance, the universe.

Saturday 1st November 2014

Today was all about energy. I learned something very special today, that energy is real and I am very susceptible to it. I have been given a gift, like every sentient being, that means I am a conduit that can sense the energy of others. I gave even more than I received today which has been extremely tiring and fulfilling. Straight after the experience I’m about to describe took place, I returned home and fell asleep making me late for my next appointment. I’m new to energy exchange and I think that because my receptiveness is so high – and I am so keen to give of myself – I end up wearing myself out. This is probably why being in amongst big crowds is my worst nightmare. They take so much from me.

TJ Woodward’s Authenticity Group offers sharing, support, guidance and the opportunity to transform your life as part of a nurturing spiritual community. The group is part of the same program as Awakened Living. I am part of that group and my contribution was one that only I could make. We started by meditating which is simply to recognise the oneness that exists in the universe and our inner selves. I acted a conduit for the universal. It felt amazing. I opened up after that in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible when I was plagued by lack of confidence and depression. I talked from my heart about recognising the resources within me, loving the abundance that surrounds me, trusting what I feel, doing exactly what I’m meant to be doing, connecting with energy, and feeling the light. I am free and true. I am calm and centred.

We are not here to be healed. We are already perfect and whole. We paired up and thought of a question that our partner would ask us again and again. My partner had some revelations about what it means to have it all, and that letting go of many things is part of this process. My question was how I can be at one with the universe – something that I am beginning to feel as of today, but have struggled with. The answers if they are answers cannot be put into words. They are a feeling to be nurtured. Trust and radiance.

During another meditation I felt again as if I was not only channelling the divine but it was magnified fivefold by the other participants. There was time to think on what we wanted to share next and TJ knew that two minutes in I had mine. He turned straight to me as soon as I opened my eyes and there it was, this revelation about energy – he had felt it. From that we decided to use the Tibetan practice of Tonglen, giving and receiving to centre in the spiritual self. Usually with conventional meditation we are encouraged to breath in love and light, and breathe out fear and anxiety, but with the Tonglen practice we use our energy altruistically, giving focussed relief to somebody in need. Someone who was going through pain sat in the centre and for three minutes we channelled to her. I gave her as much of my energy as I could, just giving and giving. At the end of it I knew that the light had shone into her soul and I would be pleased to know if it has.

It’s the ego that clouds us all and makes us experience sadness, fear, doubt and regret which are not part of the natural order. It’s the stories we choose to believe that makes it so. Connecting to our inner selves, that heartbeat that is part of the very essence of the universe, is such an incredible experience when you know it is there. With this knowledge I can overcome any challenges in my life. With the law of attraction I can call into being only that which is right for me. I have lived blindfolded for many years, paralysed by pain and fear that I mistakenly thought were real. I know this is not my purpose and I am capable of greatness just be virtue of realising what I already am, and forever have been.

It’s hard though, as doubt, fear and emotional pain are part of what it means to be human. Without these tangible emotions we would have no beauty, love and happiness. The domineering mind wants to shout ‘But this is all claptrap!’ ‘This is just a phase, a moment, like the depression was!’ I am doing my best to silence the doubt and give in to abundance which means sharing, giving, forgiving, receiving, trusting, listening, accepting, loving, appreciating. Doubt is not part of my purpose here. Repeat to fade.

forget

Living with borderlines: anger.

I first started writing this blog in January of this year. The very first thing I ever wrote was in regards to my anger problem:

“I am a very angry and aggressive person. I guess it would be true to say that over time, I have developed strategies for dealing with and managing this in front of other people. But often I find myself seething inside, with terrible bad feelings often mixed with neurosis and circular thought patterns.”

Back then, I didn’t know how bad things would get. I couldn’t have predicted my ever more violent rages, bouts of drunken grappling and harsh words spoken with the intention of wounding. Nor did I know how much hope I would eventually muster up from within, which would help me to face my demons. Being understood (albeit by a textbook) is a great relief.

I am thinking about anger in relation to borderlines – what makes their anger different, at whom it is aimed, how and whether it can be understood and what can be done to help them, at least as a damage-control measure. Of course, what I’m about to discuss will be a generalisation and for every rule there are a great many exceptions, but the following certainly rings true for me and was originally written about in greater detail by Kreisman & Straus in their book Sometimes I Act Crazy, about living with Borderline Personality Disorder, or surviving a loved one who has it.

What sometimes distinguishes borderline rage is its concealment and its unpredictability. Some borderlines supress anger, believing its expression will lead to what is most feared: abandonment by a significant other. It has also been said that depression is anger turned inward, and in fact BPD has a high rate of comorbidity with depression. However, interestingly there is a trend for anger to be less intense in those borderlines who are depressed, in contrast with other psychiatric patients, studies have shown, in whom high levels of depression are correlated with increased anger and violence. How can this be? Perhaps depression somehow diminishes the experience of anger, or maybe anger is a defence against depression. After all, both are associated with serotonin irregularities and are two sides of the same coin.

Aside from supressing rage, other individuals deflect their rage back on themselves and become self-destructive. For others still, anger is unplanned and startling. There appears to be no observable progression from minor incident to violent eruption. What is clear though is that borderlines feel angry much of the time, even when the anger is not expressed. Frustration and self-reproach can unleash rage which is often directed towards the borderline’s nearest and dearest. A study of male domestic violence perpetrators demonstrated that they had a greater likelihood of exhibiting borderline characteristics than control subjects.

Anger is one of the most enduring characteristics of BPD and intertwines with other criteria that define the condition such as mood instability, destructive and self-harming behaviours, unstable relationships, fear of abandonment and persistent sensations of emptiness. One study found that over a two-year period, intense anger remitted in only 7% of subjects in contrast with suicidal behaviour resolving in 54% of cases over the same timescale.

Anger for borderlines stems from frustration and as a preemptive measure to guard against perceived expectation of disappointment at a later date. This was how it was for me, if you can imagine a person who feels she is utterly empty, that everything is pointless and worthless, so get it over with already. In other cases the anger may be camouflaged by opposite behaviour such as attempting to please everyone, though ironically this fruitless quest only leads to more frustration as the need for reciprocal nurturing isn’t met.

According to the authors of Sometimes I Act Crazy, it is essential to understand that in some situations the borderline needs to be angry. This is quite a difficult subject to write about, much less to do, as it seems counterintuitive to encourage a person experiencing irrational anger to let it out. Rational argument, apparently, doesn’t work – logic goes out the window during a borderline’s debate. He may even switch sides halfway through. So what is the proper response to a temporarily insane person’s uncontrollable rages?

The advice given sounds very simple on paper but must, I fear, by almost impossible for anyone not noted for their Mother Theresa-esque appearance.

1. Understand
Anger usually is the outward expression of fear and pain. It is easier to be angry than scared. Anger can be a way of gaining control over an unmanageable situation. Anger might be used pre-emptively or in a variety of different ways.

2. Prepare
Borderline rage is like no other in its intensity, irrationality and apparent whimsy. But you can prepare for it, and learn to read the signs and the cycles, as you both begin to unpack the triggers of rage.

3. Communicate
Communicating with a furious borderline is a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, empathy and self-control are needed. On the other, he must be made aware that his outbursts are unacceptable.

4. Don’t fight fire with fire.
Borderline rage feeds upon itself and off that of others.

5. Don’t tolerate anger.
If you show that rage is acceptable, this will only reinforce this idea in the mind of the borderline

6. Leave
If the borderline refuses to settle, take a brief respite until he calms down. Accept that change takes time.

It sounds a bit like training a dog, and it is just as absurd probably.

Right now I can honestly say that I have never been less angry in my entire life. I was an angry child that grew into an angry adult. I believe I have truly changed for myself as I continue learning how to appreciate what is around me, how not to feel everything is pointless and worthless and ugly. I am in love with nature, I love animals – even insects! I can control my moods far better now, in large part thanks to previous relationship issues being over. I know the beauty of the universe and the beauty that is me.

Living with borderlines: identity disturbance.

“If you can learn to accept disappointment yet maintain commitment, you are establishing an identity – because you are accepting yourself .” – Jerold Kreisman, ‘Sometimes I Act Crazy’.

Picking up from where I left off last time, I believe I may have Borderline Personality Disorder though I have not been in a position to seek a psychiatric evaluation yet. I know that just as you shouldn’t try to diagnose your own heart condition, it is not productive to set about finding out what’s wrong with your head. I however feel that I am acting bravely but cautiously, helping myself sort out a prickly issue without being convinced about anything. I could be wrong about it all – time will tell.

Reading the chapter on Identity Disturbance in the Kreisman & Straus book, Sometimes I Act Crazy, was one of the hardest because it sliced painfully close to the bone. ‘I don’t know who I am’ is something I’ve often felt in my heart. It’s even become a recurring theme in my artwork without my realising it. I put together an 80-page portfolio entitled ‘I don’t know what I want’. The diary that details my sexploits is called ‘I didn’t mean it’. And a beautiful Postsecret that I sent in back in 2006 read ‘I’m terrified of people getting too close… they may realise how empty I am’. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Just as borderlines’ perception of others whipsaws from glorification to vilification, their own self-image often oscillates between extremes. I have felt at times that I am the greatest artist who has ever lived, and at others, that I am thoroughly, laughably worthless, undeserving even of life.

The DSM-III definition of identity disturbance requires “uncertainty about at least two of the following: self-image, sexual orientation, long-term goals or career choice, type of friends desired, preferred values”. For me, I can honestly say that I currently struggle with all of these matters except sexual orientation. Knowing that I’m not the only one brings huge comfort and relief.

Like the case study in the book, I often feel I am borrowing a self from someone else. The subject in the example realises, due to the unwelcome attentions of others involved, that he unconsciously mimics his boss’s mannerisms, walk, even his accent. It is deeply embarrassing and hard for the borderline to identify, but when he does it only feeds nihilistic feelings of emptiness.

Theorists speculate that identity diffusion, or ‘splitting’ emerges from disruptions in consistent mothering. Healthy attachment to the mother figure from which individual identity develops is disturbed.  Deprived of acceptance from the most important figure in his life, the child perceives the world as unpredictable. The developing borderline, unable to connect past experiences to future occurrences, develops ambivalence and confusion. The security of feeling accepted by others is based solely on the present. To escape this anxiety-producing chaos, the child splits the world into ‘all good’ and ‘all bad’.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I can see this in myself and other close friends who have had difficult early relationships with their mothers. Everyone deals differently with the hand they are dealt, but this kind of early upset can, for some, sow the seeds of various identity disturbances.

This can take various forms. For one grouping, called role absorption, their very identity is defined in terms of a cause. Cult members reflect this pathology. Others experience painful incoherence which leads to a person feeling unreal or describing a false self. This is highly correlated with a history of childhood sexual abuse. Others who experience identity disturbance experience a lack of commitment and constantly change their educational interests, jobs and relationships. It is as if they are constantly seeking to define or discover themselves.

I would like to quote from Sometimes I Act Crazy, this passage on the subtype of inconsistency.

‘The individual transforms into a “chameleon”, whose opinions and values depend on who is in his company at a particular moment, much like the title character in Woody Allen’s Zelig [that I have mentioned before!]. He may assume inconsistent, even contradictory, positions. There may be a strong attraction to a controlling, charismatic figure who offers the hope of consistency.’ – Jerold J. Kreisman & Hal Straus

A few days ago I had a second session with H, my current therapist. I talked about my need to have faith in myself and that going to the US represents a massive step for me in trusting my intuition and asserting my own freedom for the first time in my life. After having been in a recent relationship with someone controlling and arrogant, who wanted to mould me into his idea of the perfect woman, my recovery takes the form of embracing who I am, and being sensitive to my desires. After all, I trust and respect myself and I deserve to satisfy my inner needs.

After hearing a little about the nature of my last relationship, and being involved with others in the past who sought to ‘rescue me’, H understood how damaging that was. It really meant a lot to me that she realised for herself what the upcoming trip represents to me.

We talked for a while about Borderline Personality Disorder and she mentioned that these disorders are very new. I wondered whether they are real – as surely everyone experiences such universal emotions and behaviours as anger, depression, impulsivity, changeability etc. H responded that it is the degree to which these behaviours disturb one’s life that makes one a sufferer or not. A very simple but crucial point.

I think the best advice I can give myself after reading this chapter is to talk to others, to step outside my comfort zone, and do things that bring me closer to who I really am. It is there, but it is covered in so much self-doubt, fear, neuroticism, laziness and confusion. I would like to join healthy groups which work toward a worthwhile goal. I would like to be part of a team. I would like to maintain perspective and consistency.  I would like to feel part of my community. As I open up to people – strangers, friends and therapists – I will feel accepted without needing to guard my words. When I realise gradually for myself that others value and cherish me, then this will go a long way towards cementing a firm idea of who I am to myself.

Choosing to trust myself.

I am very excited and happy about so many things in my life at the moment. I feel truly blessed. Soon I will start a new adventure in California, which I am naturally looking forward to. The way I am with myself, I concentrate on where I am at the present moment – in the meantime I have plenty of matters, big and small, to attend to. The ‘work’ I am doing currently is more rewarding and more demanding than any paid job I have ever undertaken. I have high hopes and make copious demands of myself, but somehow I know it’s all worth it.

I met with a new counsellor, H, today who is trained in psychodynamic theory. After listening to my life in a nutshell, she said that I sounded unhappy. I was surprised to hear her say this because it seemed to me that I was very sorted. Gradually it dawned on me though that my ideas flit about and what seems like determination is sometimes stubbornness. I am constantly both making excuses for and blaming myself. I have trouble figuring out why I am going to carry through with one particular course of action; I know only that I must do it.

I will only have another two sessions with H in my home village, before setting off on my little adventure, hopefully not returning to this place for more than a week at a stretch in the future. So if I’m not in it for the long haul, what are my aims with the therapy I’m undertaking and for life in general? What I realised during my session was I would like to be able to trust myself. I mean really and truly. When I am violent, it is a complete disavowal of myself and everything I’ve worked for. In a heartbeat, all the positive energy, good habits, honourable intentions and lofty thoughts are broken. In this way, I can never be sure when the beast might strike. So I have to tame that beast once and for all, so whatever arises in the future, violence will not be part of my response to it.

The way I see it, every moment is a part of my life and I choose to enjoy all of those moments, wherever I am. I am learning to avoid the things I don’t like, and to be OK with that. Just because certain friends enjoy sitting in a field chewing their faces off, doesn’t mean I have to find that entertaining myself. I can just walk away from the activities, culture and lifestyles that don’t do it for me. I don’t live for the future or the past because now is all we have.

I spoke to my new GP last week. In fact, being back here again in my village, it turns out he was a doctor that I already know and trust. When I was 19 and severely depressed, he was the one I turned to for ‘a little bottle of confidence’ as I worded it in my diaries at the time. As it happened, back then he refused me the anti-depressants I thought would be the panacea, and instead referred me for counselling with a youth service. That was eleven years ago, and I am grateful for his interventions. He saw that somewhere within me was a happy and capable individual, a girl capable of digging herself out of her noisy mind’s many layers of muck and detritus.

I spoke to him about my self-medicating with Paroxetine (Seroxat). He asked many probing questions and sought to understand what my dosage was, when it was raised, what problems I sought to treat, any changes I have found with it, and any side effects. I told him that at first I took only 5mg, which he believed was equivalent to not taking it at all, being purely homeopathic. As I upped it though, I didn’t feel increased curtailment of depressive feelings, nor an increase in euphoric or reckless behaviour. I just felt the same, responding to my circumstances which got a whole lot better when my last relationship ended at the end of August. Now, I feel very productive and calmer in my mind but I am loath to put this down to the Paroxetine, as I honestly think I’d be dealing with life exactly the same way if I had never touched it.

The question of whether to continue on this path was a tricky one. My doctor discussed it with the medical student that sat in on the session, and with me. At first they seemed to waver towards weaning me off it, as I hardly need it anymore in truth. And as my doctor admitted, it’s not readily prescribed these days because it has a higher than normal level of addiction. But after understanding a little about my circumstances, it was decided I would stay on Paroxetine for a maximum of six months (starting from when I began taking 20mg). I am undergoing various periods of transition – one as I returned from Spain alone, another when I head over to California and yet another when I settle in a different part of the UK on my return to the UK in the New Year. This dovetails quite neatly with the six month thing, so I should be off it by the end of January, start of February. This shouldn’t be a hard habit to kick as I can’t feel any symptoms of addiction, sometimes I forget to take it without realising. I only don’t want the risk of any upset while my life is so in flux – if this is one thing I can keep in check then so be it.

 

trust

Contemplation, medication & frustration.

I can scarcely believe that only a few short weeks ago I had the frightening complacency to write, as a concluding remark to a comment on the subject of therapy on a practitioner’s blog, “It’s traumatic to say the least but I have the sneaking feeling that ‘it’s working’ – whatever that may mean.” I really had the suspicion that the good relationship I had with my last therapist was enough to have changed me permanently. “I talk, she steers. She interprets, I listen. I confess, she challenges. She provokes, I contemplate,” I mused, smugly.

“I cannot overstate how different I feel now”, I enthused, daring to believe that all my problems had been magicked away by a few sessions of psychotherapy that in reality barely skimmed the surface. And in all truth, even a more sustained course of therapy is no panacea.

I realise now that with much sadness that my problems aren’t going away and I am looking at the possibility that no amount of positive thinking, therapy, being in love, moving to a different country, giving up alcohol, giving up having a job, and having ongoing physical health issues are going to change that. Yes all these things have happened in the recent past. Recent enough for them to take root but still to be novel, uplifting or humbling.

That doesn’t mean I’ll ever give up trying to be positive, but so often I am defeated by my simple inability to change. However, despite stubbornness, stupidity, immaturity and self-sabotage, whatever the reason, I am trying and I need to reassure myself of that. In my mind I am truly trying as hard as I can to be better, cleverer and happier but it doesn’t come across to the person that I am trying to improve myself for. My partner. I seem sarcastic when I try to be sincere. I seem absent-minded when I try my darndest to be smart. I smother when I try to be pleasant. I get angry too often and it grates. I am quagmired by frustration, self-loathing and anger and it is so horrible.

So in a last bid attempt to regain some kind of control over my temper and inner feelings of anger I wonder whether prescription medication would be the way to go?

I haven’t researched the specifics yet but I am aware that it’s certainly not to be taken lightly. I aim to use the Rethink website as a starting point. The sorts of issues that are swirling semi-formed around my head are of side effects, possible dependency down the line, and the risk of greater upsets before I find the right drug for me. I also foresee issues with my GP not being willing to prescribe a psychotropic to me – I speak from experience having gone to my doctor as a depressed 19-year old, begging for antidepressants and a “little bottle of confidence” as I wrote in my diary at the time. That was years ago. He didn’t give them to me but listened with kindness and referred me for counselling.

It’s funny, I’ve been on medication almost continually for three years now. In that time I’ve been treated for pulmonary tuberculosis twice followed by an invasive lung infection which I will have until it is cut out of me along with the cavity in my lung where it hangs out. All the time I wished for a time I could stop being on meds. In fact, I elected to stop taking my triazole antifungal for my invasive aspergillosis only a few weeks ago because I thought it might be affecting my mood. Just one of life’s little ironies I suppose.

make it work

Therapy is no magic wand.

The therapy is continuing in lots of different ways. I’m growing and learning in ways I never thought possible and reading lots though mostly from other blogs nowadays rather than books. What I’ve learned in relation to the traditional model of therapy is that it’s only useful when I’ve believed it to be useful. That is, I, the patient, determine the usefulness of the therapy. It works if I say so.

I adopt a multi-pronged approach, and have become something of a therapy junkie throughout my journey. I have been asked by various friends and other therapists recently whether therapy is “working”. I really don’t know what to say. It clearly isn’t, because all the hours I’ve spent talking to therapists haven’t changed my behaviour in certain situations.

It took me months to find the therapist, G, that has helped me the most – by that I mean the one who I feel most comfortable with, I respect as an individual, and whose advice, analysis and agenda I most value. What I am basically saying is that I like her as a person. We get on well. We can hold a conversation.

In this way I find solace in a relationship that society says can cure me of my psychological ailments; my mental and behavioural stumbling blocks. We have preordained roles and sometimes resort to stock phrases. Like doomed lovers conducting an illicit affair, there is no preamble and no outro to our encounters, it’s straight to business. The validity of the therapeutic transaction is confirmed by the exchange of money – an amount that isn’t to be sniffed at. Afterwards I am left confused, traumatised, enraged sometimes, comforted that someone understands other times… but there is never any question that this therapy is an  unequivocally Good Thing.

I wouldn’t say I have any doubts about the therapeutic process, even if the intervention is nothing more than offloading to a nice person who understands and challenges me. I worry that surely therapy is the end of the road. If it doesn’t “work” then what else is there to try? Happy pills? Joining a cult? Self-flagellation? Going back to my bad old ways?

Where my doubts lie are in myself. I embrace therapy and I know I’m doing it right because it’s painful afterwards, the psychological equivalent of being punched in the stomach. It’s a similar feeling actually, like the wind’s been taken right out of me. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and so far I have not turned into a very tasty dish. I’m still bitter in just about every way imaginable. I’m still angry, it’s right there, bubbling beneath the surface like lava in a volcano.

Yes, deep psychotherapy has helped me understand the causes of my upsets, and makes me very sad in fact as I come to terms with a wasted childhood. But as far as its ability to make me a better person – the person I was always meant to be, before being consumed by negativity – the progress is patchy. I continually mess up, and have recently reverted to appalling behaviours that I thought were behind me.

More recently though, there has been a glimmer of hope. I have been the shining beacon that is going to help myself out of the darkness. I am in the process of making myself more resilient, empathetic, grateful, humble, forgiving and loving. It is in my power alone.

I’ve been told by someone in the blogosphere to relax and observe whether I’m resisting or allowing each moment. Go general. Find soothing, relaxing thoughts. Be easy on myself. Have fun. Take deep breaths. find things to appreciate. Don’t resist the present moment & don’t resist life.

I would like to do all of these things and keep doing them until they become second nature, regardless of the setbacks and endless barrage of feelings I contend with. I would like to experience enough constant faith in myself that even a rough patch with my partner doesn’t derail it. At the moment my entire happiness seems to be dependent on our relationship. J’s also very sensitive (though sometimes seems incredibly insensitive as a coping mechanism), so everything rubs off on him and is exacerbated ten times. That is how we got ourselves worked up into such a lather before.

Learning self-belief and acceptance are so important to individual happiness. I’m doing very well with my previous resolutions – calmness, sobriety, my own interests, not using the language of blame, and sitting above the situation in hand – and over the weekend notched up gold stars on each. I stood up for myself in a very calm and inclusive way, and realised as I spoke what is important for me as regards my life goals.

I’ve got more therapy tonight with G – my last session before I leave the country for up to 8 months. I am looking forward to discussing my issues but I hope this is the end to some of my more unproductive introspection which I acknowledge can lead to unhappiness and resentment of the status quo.

There is no magic wand, there is only belief.

May Resolutions. Being more boring.

Enough time has passed for me to accept and try to move on from the weekend’s poisonous events. Knowing that I can’t unf**k the goat, I can at least do everything I can to prevent my pattern of idiocy to perpetuate any longer.

I have done this coming to terms largely away from J, on my own and with other people, as it’s the only way I can right now. I don’t want to talk to him about any of our issues for fear of causing an upset. I believe that if I can get things sorted in my own mind, my behaviour will be nice which in turn will lead him to be nice. Then maybe we can talk but only when we’re really strong again.

I have come to realise a few things in general. Call them resolutions. Firstly, I must be calm. There is a long, painful recovery period from my abusive behaviour for both of us. I am so shell-shocked I could have behaved like I did that I get into beating-myself-up mode, which means my already battered self-worth goes through the floor. I go into a sort of denial where I expect sympathy because I see myself as the victim. It’s strangely f***ed up.

Secondly, I must stay off booze. It doesn’t agree with me. It makes me aggressive. And seeing as I don’t start feeling that I have had too many after two or four or five, it’s safer to avoid it altogether. I have recently been made aware of alarming incidents that happened years ago that I genuinely could not recall. And it wasn’t just once or twice, it was every time. My friends dreaded being out with me. I did not know that…

Next, I must retain my own interests in order to boost my sense of self. In an intense relationship, it’s all too tempting to dissolve yourself into the other, seeking validation from just one source. It seems absurd even, to devote time to friends, new experiences and hobbies that take you away from the relationship you’re trying so hard to fix. The relationship becomes a full time occupation and everything else is just a distraction. This isn’t healthy.

Number four, when a situation progresses into a conflict, I should explain how the matter in hand affects me. I can explain how this is against my values or I don’t appreciate being spoken to like that, instead of nitpicking, criticising or attacking. Sentences should start with “Right now I feel” rather than “You always… You’re such a….”

The fifth point is to do with my boyfriend in particular. He has been known to twist the knife and to wait for a reaction. He’s a great one for picking fights and winding people up, particularly girlfriends. He likes the drama of conflict (I am exactly the same!). I guess we both like it for the same reason: it reminds you that you’re not dead. I actually want to be more boring! Maybe that means staying in more, watching TV, cleaning, reading, sewing. Maybe that means agreeing with him instead of rising to the bait. Maybe that means taking a step back and observing a situation rather than being tangled up in it and powerless to see what’s actually going on. So that’s a tricky one to summarise so I’ll just say I hope to be boring, agreeable and somewhat detached.

I cannot ask my boyfriend, or anyone else for that matter, to change. I can only work on changing my perceptions and behaviour. I can change how I let the outside world affect my inner state.

To this end I attended by first CBT session on the NHS last night. I had been waiting for three months, but I realise my problems have not changed a jot. I only have time for one session before I leave the country and will therefore have to wait six months or so until I am back to arrange a course of sessions. However it was still useful. The therapist drew three bubbles, the emotion I felt during the incident, the thoughts that were going through my head as a result of that emotion, and the behaviour that is manifested by the thoughts. The chain that we seek to break in the CBT process is between (irrational) thoughts and behaviour. I was challenged, which is very important to my recovery.

I was given two online resources I can use while away. They are Moodgym and the Centre for Clinical Interventions.

When I return here in a few months, I hope to continue with the CBT which deals very much with the here and now, and concurrently to take the NLP/ Biodynamic/ Integrative Arts psychotherapy approach in which I can address childhood issues. I’d like to think of recent events as minor speedbumps, not proof that I am beyond help.

Deepening the pool. Childhood memories.

How can I rise above the sadness of a wasted childhood? How can I right the wrongs of the past? Am I damaged? Can I change? Does identifying negative influences and conflicts that were already a part of me aged five help me grow today? The therapy session yesterday was pretty hard going and felt like quite a trauma but I’m happy to have done it.

The main exercise was to imagine the five year old me is sitting on a cushion in the room. She was sitting there, trying not to notice me: the current me. She makes like she isn’t interested, but when I look away, she takes a sideways glance at me. She has a lot of curiosity but not in a typically childlike way as she feels nervous in the company of others. So, she sits there, withdrawn. What do I say to her? If I could say anything what would I say?

The things I wanted to say, she wouldn’t understand. I want to tell her she must have the strength to be true to herself. I want to tell her she must find her own happiness. I want to tell her it’s OK to be who she is. Trust yourself. I want to tell her that it’s good to be open to love and laughter. Get out of your head more. If I could tell her just one thing, I’d say “enjoy now”.

But she wouldn’t understand these things. Instead I notice what she’s looking at. She’s spotted a boy playing outside. He’s riding a bicycle. I ask her if she wants to go and play outside as well, but she isn’t allowed. It’s not safe. Maybe we can play together? She doesn’t want that either, and she’s squirming and getting uncomfortable. How do you feel about that? I know what she’s thinking; she wants to be on her own again now and doesn’t like this adult asking questions. No-one asks her how she’s feeling and she doesn’t have any language to convey what she perpetually feels, which is jealousy of others, self-loathing, feeling different, confusion about the messages she’s getting, anger, resentment. There are good sides to: things she looks forward to like playing football and messing about outdoors, but they are temporary distractions from the turmoil she – I – have always felt.

When I speak to myself as an adult I use what my therapist G calls the ‘critical voice’. I’m constantly aware of G picking me up on this trait I have when I talk about some aspect of myself. I have heard it said that the way we treat ourselves mirrors the way our parents treated us as kids. My parents were highly critical and I grew up in a household ruled by a noxious lifestyle choice – organised religion. There were a lot of commands beginning with “you must always” “you should never” “you’ll go to hell if” “this way is the only way”. I was forced to get my head around serious, adult concepts. I was told that life on earth doesn’t matter as long as you follow religion, because what we’re living for is the afterlife. I was told that anyone that doesn’t follow the same religion as us is a sinner and is going to hell. I suspected from an early age that my parents’ religion was not for me but I had no other person to give my feelings validation or to offer an alternative value system.

This little five year old girl, she is told that some of her friends are sinners. But she sees their households are filled with laughter, hobbies, siblings, activity and affection. For the first time she sees two adults – her friend’s parents – embracing each other and even she notices there is love there. She doesn’t have siblings herself and her parents aren’t in love with each other. And yet adults constantly comment how lucky she is to be an only child. She must be so spoilt! She is so sick of hearing that and it frustrates her that they could be so wrong. She pulls away whenever they try to grab her big cheeks or stroke her curly hair.

I didn’t feel like a child when I was a child. I was party to adult things, not just religion but extramarital affairs that it was just expected I would keep to myself. I was used as a pawn in my parents’ constant battles. I spent my childhood wishing it away, feeling different to others, crippled by shyness, waiting to reach a certain age when I presumed everything would just fall into place. And as an adult I have behaved very childishly. Until I embarked on this journey I wasn’t a fan of taking responsibility for myself. I used people. I took stupid risks. I rebelled. I pissed people off with my erratic or petulant behaviour. I hurt people needlessly. I refused to change or to have an open mind. I was selfish.

That five year old on the cushion seemed like flesh and blood. I can see how she had her hair and what she was wearing. She’s only a memory, distorted by hindsight. But I know how to talk her language and teach her sensitively. It’s not easy going back there but I owe it to myself to look after her.

Overthinking and freedom from prison.

G, my psychotherapist, pointed out that it was obvious the inflated emphasis I put on cerebral activities. I had not realised before that there was an alternative. My mind is always crowded with thoughts about something and nothing. These aren’t necessarily productive thoughts such as ideas, but can instead be circular, neurotic, mildly paranoid and self-sabotaging.

Perhaps I seek validation for my overthinking in the books that I read. In the same way I gain comfort from writing neat little accounts of my progress, reading books loosely about self-improvement helps to rationalise, provides solace, and in a sense, to shuts me off from experience with the excuse of ‘yet more research’. But nevertheless, I feel it’s beneficial and interesting to read in order to get the ideas under my belt with which to really live my life.

It is through books and the internet, alongside talking to therapists and reaching out to others that I am slowly developing a sense of the other side that’s out there. This other side isn’t even out there, it’s already here, within me. The opposite to materialism, the opposite to depression, the opposite to enslavement, the opposite to overthinking. So G can say that I use my head a lot more than my feelings, but for me this is a huge step up. It was not that long ago that my feelings were overpoweringly, cripplingly depressive and I was too fragile to contemplate anything like self-improvement with the ultimate and ongoing intention to set myself free from the constraints that are mere figments of my imagination.

There’s a passage in F**k It Therapy that really made me laugh and wake up to what freedom isn’t.

“But most of us have a fantasy about freedom. And that’s why those movies and music work on us, but not because we’re free and on the open road of life. Do you think the true rebels and pioneers are watching Thelma and Louise and listening to The Clash? No, they work on us because we’re still in our chains. Do you know how many white-collar workers there are out there with big motorbikes? Do you know how many Audi drivers listen to Eminem? How many grandfathers are listening to punk? How many media people say ‘cool’? How many of the dudes at school became financial advisers? Don’t knock them. It’s probably me. It’s probably you.” – F**k It Therapy by John C. Parkin.

The book tells you how to identify the prisons that you are unwittingly incarcerated in and then to change them if you want. We are imprisoned by the constant and ultimately fruitless search for meaning when it isn’t there in those places where we seek. A sense of perspective on life is important. The stories we surround ourselves with imprison us. We have an idea about who we were, who we are now and who we’d like to become. The human state is to move from naivete to experience, from playfulness to seriousness, getting older, weaker and wearier all the while. These stories don’t reflect reality; life resists the stories we tell in order to try and fix everything.

So we have the prison of our search for meaning in the wrong places. We have a prison of our stories. We also construct a prison if our aims take over our lives. We construct prisons of thought. A thought-less life is not what’s being advocated, merely the suggestion that eschewing an entirely thought-based approach to life can open you up to amazing things. This speaks to me and is very timely in the light of being ‘diagnosed’ a chronic overthinker. The other prisons we might find ourselves in including fixing ideas to ourselves. These might be religious, materialistic or spiritual beliefs. Hold all ideas lightly, is the f**k it approach. Sure, dip your toe here, dabble there, get a new perspective there. The one possible spiritual truth, Parkin dares to venture, is that we are all connected, maybe even all one. Our perception of separation is an illusion that creates suffering.

My own personal prisons are:

1) my unwillingness to change and push my boundaries. However I have done a lot to confront this issue over the past 12 months. 2) my reliance on thinking… – now that I know about my habit to over think – and have awareness there is an alternative – I will try not to give much attention to those persistent and nagging thoughts. 3) …and the anger and negativity that this leads to. This is the biggest and scariest problem that I have. I am acutely disappointed every time I let myself, my partner and my friends down.

 

Getting to know and tame my rebellious inner child.

So, I came back from what I call my hardcore therapy session yesterday evening fragile and quite sad. I think this the real and emotional response that I’ve tried so hard to deny and suppress, even on this difficult personal journey. The therapy in question was provided by the proper NLP-based, Integrative Arts psychotherapist that I refer to as G. I hadn’t seen her for over three weeks. I realise for sure now that I have found the right person to help me. The fact that it isn’t easy – that it’s quite uncomfortable at times and very close to the bone – helps me to appreciate that this is the right route for me.

I was taken back to childhood again, which I always find quite upsetting because I realise how lonely I felt, how I never got the memo that it’s imperative to express yourself and find out who you are, how I felt unworthy and not valid compared to others. I spent a lot of my time wishing I was someone or something else. Frustration, jealousy, selfishness and self-hatred were amongst my earliest feelings. I somehow got the wrong messages growing up. My parents never did anything wrong, like scald me harshly, or beat me, or make me feel I was worthless. On the contrary, they provided enough materially, sent me to an expensive school, encouraged me to perform well academically, provided religious guidance, and generally made my life as risk-free as possible. In short they gave me all the assurances and comforts that their parents couldn’t give to them.

What it lacked I think was being truly heard and listened to, which is something that today I desperately feel I need. I get very angry when I feel I’m not being understood, perhaps that might be because I can’t express myself clearly. I also missed having the support of a parent, someone that tells you that your dreams are valid and you should go and do the things that make your heart sing. Again today, I make totally unreasonable demands on my partner to support me unconditionally, which of course no human being alive is entitled to expect. And finally, I lacked the coping mechanism when things don’t go as I planned them. My parents made everything cushy, there were no real challenges to deal with. The voice that says ‘I want it my way’ ends up being my saboteur.

Behaviour roleplay

There are four types of behaviour that orbit the satellite of the Adult. The Adult is centred, rational, mature and grounded. There are other sides to this Adult however. There is the Nurturing Parent who shows kindness to the child and supports all of his needs. There is the Critical Parent who judges, attacks, criticises and might as a result make the child feel worthless. There is the Rebellious Child who simply wants things his own way and doesn’t listen to reason. There is lastly the Adapted Part that wants to please the parent, and whose behaviour shifts according to what is expected of him.

Using a painfully recent disagreement as an example to illustrate where I fit into all this, it is quite clear that my behaviour is that of the rebellious child (with a smattering of critical parent). In the example, I didn’t get things my way, so rather than deal with it calmly and adhere to an alternative plan, I became irate, irrational, throwing blame around like it was going out of fashion, calling the other person stupid, and finally refusing to go through with any sort of plan when the other person begged me to. It took me hours to regain anything resembling composure and even then my seeming amicability didn’t last, and there have been more upsets since then.

What the rebellious child wants is to get his way, to be listened to, and for unconditional love. What the child wants is for the other to be untrue to himself. The rebellious child demands total submission. It’s disgusting and terrifying and I don’t really know how I got to be like this. It’s terrifying. I still have this awful concern that I am not going to change and all these little love affairs with spirituality or therapy or whatever’s flavour of the month will be over as quickly as they began, cast aside like a used whore.

The subject of my reliance on thinking/writing also came up. G came to the conclusion I use my strongly developed mind instead of my feelings. I justify and rationalise all kinds of things, that then have an effect on my behaviour. And once poisoned thought becomes feeling then action, all hell breaks loose. G asked me to consider how I feel once I’ve written 900 words that perfectly sum up my mood. I said I felt satisfied, like after eating a big dinner. I’ve put something into a tidy little box, with a title and tags and correct diction and punctuation. It’s all so neat and snug. I can draw a line under it once I hit Save or Publish. But does all this thinking actually perpetuate the problems of an overactive mind?

Craniosacral therapy the second time round.

Doing all these different therapies gives me a chance to evaluate where I am from one set point in time to another, as I can see how far I have come from one session to the next. Today I went for my second cranio-sacral therapy treatment (CST). Around 7 weeks had gone by since my first session and I remember how different I felt then while talking to the practitioner, B. When asked about how things are for me, there is a tendency to talk about whatever’s going on in relation to what my mindset was the previous time. I remember feeling very different the last time I was sat on that couch in B’s therapy room. Today I felt really fine. I have no conflicts, internal or external, that I know of. I have no stress in any part of my head or body (apart from the right shoulder blade where I hold tension and I am becoming increasingly aware of the discomfort there). I feel lucky to have the bounty the universe has bestowed upon me and I am at great pains to be thankful and kind in this moment to all that inhabit the earth.

I got up on the bench and the treatment began with meditative breathing. B placed his hands on my shoulders to start with. The contact is so slight there I wonder if there is contact at all. We stayed like this for probably ten minutes and I felt so very relaxed, almost as if I could nod off at any moment. He asked how I felt and I said very fluid and stress-free, consciously aware of every part of my body that touched the bench and feeling those points melt into the bench. There was a long pillow underneath my upper thighs, meaning my lower back was flat against the bench rather than being arched upwards, which was a blissful feeling. He next placed his hands under my lower back. He stayed there for 5 minutes or so. While he was there, I had the sensation of shivers going up my spine twice. He said it’s quite normal for the body to perform strange movements and have unusual sensations while the lower back is being treated. It’s the spine’s energy being released.

He moved on to my head and behind the neck. I didn’t feel such a strong feeling of any kind. I felt totally relaxed, or so I thought. After I was off the bench, I asked him what energy he felt in me. He said that my nervous system wasn’t giving of itself today. It isn’t anything to worry about but there just wasn’t such a strong reaction as the first time, when I felt my skull moving. It takes time to build rapport, and so much time had passed since my last CST session too, so it’s normal that my nerves weren’t quite so receptive. There was a block in my energy, an impasse through which B could not penetrate.

According to their website, CST has been said to provide for patients, “comfort, inner peace, a sense of relief, deep stillness and relaxation, connection, feeling accepted, feeling more fully alive, feeling whole again”. This time round, I cannot say I experienced any deep peace and satisfaction which I did during my first session. It was relaxing, yes, and it felt like it had meaning – but this could be the experience of being in close proximity to another human being who is proferring healing. The feeling of being pampered and being given permission to enter fully into a moment is a compelling reason to give it validation.

blue skies

Fruit & the truth ripen simultaneously.

At my psychotherapy session yesterday I spoke about the positive changes that I’ve been going through. It was good for me to voice them hence giving to them the real weight they deserve. It makes them feel more real to me, as I don’t talk about them to anyone else. The changes are real and will be lasting – at the most fundamental I have to believe that. The new me is young, G says, and must be both allowing and nurturing.

I am training my beat-up psyche both to allow ‘bad’ states of being when they occur; and to nurture the positive ones. Years of conditioning and wallowing in misery have made contentment all too short-lived when it does occur, and it’s time to break out of that cycle once and for all, slowly so it sticks. It has cost me many years of thwarted happiness, even wilful unhappiness. The new way of being will unfurl gradually like a fruit ripening. Savouring each moment whatever mood states it holds, because it’s all I have. From Kabat-Zinn:

“It is best to encounter each moment with freshness, its rich potential held in awareness. We look deeply into it, and then we let to into the next moment, not holding to the last one. Each moment then can be fresh, each breath a new beginning, a new letting go, a new letting be.”

I talked about the current happiness in my relationship, and G asked why is is like this now. What characterises the happiness? I think it is the easeful and considerate communication we have established for one thing. How is it that in becoming more tolerant, we actually become more considerate? Strange really. I guess that is the power of rapport. Secondly I no longer resent not having time to “myself”. I really love the times when I am around my boyfriend. This might sound like I’m losing sight of who I am or something, for the sake of my relationship but not at all. As I said this out loud, I realised for the first time that this is a truth of mine: I have the strongest sense of self at the present time than I have ever experienced at any time in the past. I hope this powerful feeling continues, and I will make it. It feels brilliant right now and that’s what matters. Not the worries that it is illusory, or temporary, or will become inadequate. These are all just non-existent potential problems with my perception. I have stopped making problems or myself, and instead accept that I cannot control outcomes, only my own thoughts and actions.

G said it this is a momentous transformation that I am undergoing. Knowing that all the resources I require for it were in me all along is a huge thing to take in. All this time I was looking for other people, places, connections, prescriptions and stimulants. I’m finally ready. But couldn’t have done any of this until the time was right. I have decided to be at cause in my universe.

“The journey is one of heroic proportions, but so much more so if enlivened by wakefulness and a commitment to adventurous enquiry. As a human being, you are the central figure in the universal hero’s mythic journey, the fairy tale, the Arthurian quest […] this journey is the trajectory between birth and death, a human life lived. No one escapes the adventure. We only work with it differently.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are.

Self-acceptance = confidence = effective communication.

My third session of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) was the most rewarding, refreshing and useful one I have had so far. In a departure from previous sessions, I learned how to tap myself rather than having the practitioner, C, do it on me. I’m only going to have another two more sessions, so it’s important to me that I gain familiarity with the technique.

C says I seemed calmer and more centred the last two times she’s seen me. I am glad she has noticed this, as I really feel it within myself. What I brought to the session was different to previous sessions in which I tried to address ongoing conflict and anger/ anxiety issues. This time it was my communication issues that I wanted addressing. My issues surrounding communication are that I have difficulty expressing myself clearly, and I have a fear of saying the wrong thing and of not being heard. I express myself clumsily and then withdraw from communication completely. It can be paralysing. It’s not just with large groups of strangers – it can be with my closest friends and my boyfriend. What C said made a lot of sense: in the past we experience a way of being that perhaps involves hurt and the sense of closing down. This repeats and we look for it so it is affirmed by the outside world.

What I am seeking is to express myself authentically in a manner that gets me heard. Being heard is not about having the loudest voice at all, simply one that is true to myself. All of this comes back to confidence. And what is confidence, except an expression of self-acceptance?

C would like to give me a tool which I can use to come back to my centre and leave behind the negative mind chat. I am not allowing my own light to shine, she said, and all that love and fun is just being squashed. I am glad she can see the love and fun in me. A sort of exercise she gave me was to let go of fear of being judged and to observe how people are with me. How does the communication go? To help communicate better she advised giving each interaction my full attention from the inside out. I thought I already did this but there is always capacity for more mindful and effective communication.

Some of the affirmations that I repeated after C:

Communication

I am going to try and stick with EFT and perhaps find out more about it as I go along. At the moment the main focus of my research is mindfulness, so I’m taking the time to digest that before really giving my full attention to peripheral remedies such as EFT. I’m also now on a path where I have I think found the right talking therapist and that takes a huge amount of energy to think clearly about, and get the right result.