Counselling out.

Had my last day of counselling today. The way this work-funded program works is that we’re offered 6 sessions to deal with an issue or conflict. After that they assume the problem is solved. It’s not structured to deal with long term unpacking of emotional issues, but a quick fix and resolution for an issue that’s struck out of nowhere. I’m not knocking it, it’s great that the company allocates resources to the mental health of its employees, but after undergoing my sessions I’m left with the same impression that I started with: It’s not quite what I’m looking for.

It started off as it always does. My counsellor asked me how I’d been since our last session. I told him that I’d been sick but I was recovering. I told him about recent developments in my romantic relationship and how this made me feel. We just booked tickets to New York for late May. It’s the first time I’ve taken an international flight with a partner and I’m almost unfairly excited about it. Child as I am, this feels like the kind of thing an adult does. We’ll have our own space and tour the city together, doing whatever takes our fancy. By that point we’ll have been together 11 months, which seems like the longest relationship I’ve had in quite some time (no need for anything patronising here. My personal life has been in constant flux for a while now). She’s gonna be meeting the family over Passover dinner which, including extended family, could be a task in itself. She’s got this one, she’ll be her charming self as always. As someone who loves celebrating small successes, these are milestones of sorts. I rarely ever felt partners were worth introducing to the familials. It means something and that’s worth acknowledging. All positivity right hurr.

We moved onto progress. I said that while sickness had inhibited my quest to sleep more, I’d been trying. I’m on day 8 without caffeine and I’m past that hump. It’s not an issue any more. Consequently I’m feeling less frantic and agitated. When I lay down to rest, it’s because I’m actually tired and not just trying to enforce good habits. I said I’d been using his “exit and wait” strategy to try cope with certain negative issues that cropped up. If something got on top of me I’d take a breather and consider the situation before re-engaging. With my recent dental mishap I took a second and decided to make some breakfast before making rash decisions. It worked out. I said I’d been trying to slow down with activities and give them the breathing room they needed. Understanding that these weren’t issues and consequently weren’t worth my stress. If taking care of myself meant I had to miss out on an event or other desire, I could say no to things. I didn’t have to cram my life full of every possible stimuli. So developments there. All positive.

My counsellor agreed. He said I’d made great progress and said he thought I’d excelled at working through my issues. He didn’t think further sessions were required, that long term therapy was still an option, but didn’t know if it would be necessary. He asked my thoughts on the issue. I blinked, considered and replied. I hadn’t really taken great leaps, I said. The issue that surfaced was my fear of failure and so far all the only things I’d learned were to step back and take care of myself in lieu of pushing myself to complete as much as possible. If my fear was that trying would lead to failure, so why bother trying in the first place? Well I’d only really supplanted that negation of effort with the idea that I was better served taking a step back and doing less. In this scenario I still wouldn’t find myself trying, I’d just be happier with my decision not to try. Net result: zero. Massive gains? Perhaps not.

Furthermore, this was only one of the many issues I needed to unpack. We’d spent 5 sessions dealing with the tip while the iceberg underneath remained an imposition. We hadn’t begun to discuss my litany of body issues, gender guilt, relationship and sexuality baggage. These were all things I sought to delve into with a tailored, personal therapeutic relationship. I still had a ton of work to do that this program wasn’t really structured to deal with and as such, my views and goals hadn’t really shifted since the first session. There had been baby steps made to address the smallest issues, but those steps paled in comparison with the hike ahead of me. I was thankful of the things we’d begun to resolve, but didn’t see this particular arrangement as an effective way of confronting this baggage I’d been hoarding for years.

He said that he understood where I was coming from and thanked me for my time. His door would be open if I wanted to revisit anything that’d been getting on top of me. So now we’re onto the next step, which is finding someone who can actually understand the voluminous claptrap floating around in my head. Finding a four leaf clover would be easier.

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