Day 24 of my 40 Day Blog Challenge. I’m really thrilled about todays post; Ed shares his story of how his experience of counselling has helped him to foster a more healthy relationship with himself. I still have 16 days left of this challenge and about 13 days still unaccounted for, so please please do let me know if you feel you have something you might like to contribute…
Molehills out of Mountains
‘Please fix me!’ My brain shouted inside my head as I nervously started to talk with the man sitting opposite me. My opening question was ‘have you done this much before?’ His answer was yes! I’m glad it was, this man is Justin and he was to become (and still is) my counsellor.
I was struggling to trust people at this point in the summer of 2014. To open up and be vulnerable with a complete stranger wasn’t what I wanted to do, but I knew how necessary it was to start the process of exploring my negative thoughts and to try and make some sense of my life. I have been really fortunate that I developed a strong relationship with my counsellor, I do feel genuinely lucky. In a shabby room in Hassocks with a very odd cross stitch portrait of the last supper on the wall, I started a process of nine months worth of weekly counselling sessions.
I thought I needed fixing; counselling helped me to see that I wasn’t as broken as I first thought. I needed listening to – not a ten step plan, but to figure it out as I went along and not to be prescribed a one size fits all remedy.
This jarred with my expectations of what counselling would be like; I was hoping to be told point blank what to do and how I could change my life in the shortest amount of time possible! What I realised is that any worthwhile process in life brings out more good things than you expect and confounded my expectations in a very positive way.
I was stuck, overweight, in a job with little to no prospects, having a crisis of faith and grieving the breakdown of relationships in a church I had called home for over 11 years – oh and trying to get my mum’s alcoholic ex partner to move out of her house. My quarter life crisis was in full swing. The above might seem melodramatic perhaps, but it was as close as I’ve come to experiencing trauma in my life; I was in a lot of pain and inner turmoil. My mind was filled with hurts and resentments that had been building over time. Each week in the session I would talk more, and out of the conversations different ways of faulty thinking became apparent. Out of the fog that was occupying my brain, and the jumble of words that fell out so ineloquently, we worked through lots of different issues and we pulled at threads that needed pulling, nothing was off the table.
We came onto the subject of victimhood; this was a huge revelation for me. I realised I saw myself as a victim and it shaped me far more than I realised and far more than I would ever like to admit. I needed to break this mind set and see myself as more than this. At various points I cried, I laughed, I shouted, I slowly started putting the pieces together and realised I was resilient, strong and capable. As I let go of hurts and worked through forgiving people, and with the support of my tremendous wife Rachael, close family and friends, I have moved into a new stage of life. I don’t want to be shaped by the bad things that have happened to me but I don’t despise them anymore either, without the pain of certain situations I wouldn’t be where I am now and I have more than a blog posts worth of things to be grateful for!
After my sessions were over I knew I needed to get on with life and start trying to achieve some things! Since then I have passed my driving test, re-entered education (at the time of writing I have passed 9 accountancy exams at the first time of asking!) run a 10km race (without stopping!), attended a rock n roll jive dance course and various fitness things. I have just recently started going to a ballet inspired fitness class and I can’t work out what I am enjoying more, confounding other people’s expectations or my own! (Insert praise hands emoji here)
If you need to talk please do, someone will be there to listen. Friends and family are great but sometimes you need a professional to help you with what you are going through, or what you have been through. Never be afraid to speak, the more you do the more you may well see your full potential!