New Year, New Hopes – A Tiny Update

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Don’t worry, I’ve not gone crazy.. At least not in the traditional sense..
Tonight at sun down is the Jewish new year, Rosh HaShanah, and I have to admit that I am kind of excited about it. I know that a date is just a date, really, and it’s what we do with each day that matters, but, there is still something about starting anew that always makes me feel positive and hopeful. It’s that delicious feeling of opening up a brand new journal, 300 buttery white pages, there for me to fill. I kind of know that as much as I’ll try to use only my very neatest handwriting, sooner or later I will fall back into old habits, switching to my sloppiest, most illegible, journal writing style, almost without noticing. But, until I do – man, does it feel good!

So, what am I hoping for in the new year?

Motherhood. Always at the very top of my wish list. Comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me. But other than that? Well, a little bit of relief from the drama of the last few months would be nice. I remember my youngest sister concluding a number of years ago that I always have a serious dip in September, but knowing what the last few months have been like, I’d like to think that this time the dip came early, and hopefully I am on my way back up now.

I hope that creativity will flow. Both in terms of writing, and in terms of artistic endeavours, whether it be painting, drawing, carving or whatever other quirky ideas I may come up with. My latest project, as you can see above, is hand painting canvas shoes. Hopefully this will continue to offer me an alternative way to express myself and provide a safe haven to go to, a place where I can disconnect, if only for a moment, from mundane day-to-day stresses.

I hope that my therapy and my relationship with A. will continue to both challenge me and bring deeper understanding, and that I will find the courage to carry on expressing my feelings. I hope that the work I am doing with Z. will help prove to myself that I can do it [talk about the abuse without breaking either myself or the person who is listening to me], and that it will ultimately lead to a decrease in the amount of flashbacks I experience on a daily basis.

Stepping away from purely therapeutic/professional relationships, I also feel a lot more ready to be in a romantic relationship with someone. I have been single ever since Dev and I separated after five years together. That is now almost five years ago, and I have to admit that in those years, I have always felt ridiculously comfortable with my single status. A. has more than once hinted at the possibility of me being somewhat fearful of entering into a new intimate relationship, but I genuinely don’t feel that’s the case. I mean, yes, there are absolutely things that frighten me about letting another person in, but not on a level where it would stop me from forming a relationship with someone; I’ve just felt very strongly that I needed this time to deal with my own issues, to have emotional time and space to explore who I am, to get to know myself better. I still don’t feel particularly desperate to find someone, nor do I feel burdened by loneliness; it simply just feels like it would be nice to have someone to share my life with, to settle down. To Set This Circus Down, to use a McGraw-ism. I don’t think I’m about to [re-]join a dating site or start going on the prowl or anything like that, it’s not really my style. I would love it if Prince or Princess Charming found their way into my life, but I feel no need to go on a hunt to find my perfect match today [or even tomorrow]. Rather than an intense hunger for breaking free of singlehood, I suppose you could say that I have more of a relaxed ‘if it happens, it happens’ attitude towards it. But, as I said earlier, it would be nice if it did happen.

Anyway, I think I’ll end my ‘update lite’ here, and – whether you are Jewish or not – I would like to wish you all a very good and sweet year to come.

שנה טובה ומתוקה

~ Shanah Tova Umetukah ~

Have a marvellous 5774!

Much love,

xx

(For Lillsessan..)

Set This Circus Down © 2000 Bill Luther and Josh Kear
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At The End Of A Difficult Year

The new year is almost here. Time to reflect, I suppose. [As if not all posts are reflections, really..]

This has not been an easy year. In fact, it may actually have been one of the hardest thus far, so I hope the new year will bring a bit of happy change. One of the things that I have been really struggling with this year, and which very nearly pushed me over the edge, is something I haven’t really shared on here. I am hoping that as time goes on, this too, will become something I feel comfortable sharing here. I mean, considering the things I do share, there really shouldn’t be much of a problem, but for whatever reason, I’ve just not quite found it in me to write openly about it so far. Too painful, somehow, seeing it in black on white..

I remember myself at this time last year, on the verge of a minor break in therapy, which I knew would soon be followed by a seriously major break; my therapist’s maternity leave, and I can still feel that horribly cold, hard lump at the bottom of my stomach, which would turn every time I thought about it. The horrendous abandonment issues I was battling with and the separation anxiety I was trying to keep under control. I remember desperately trying to come up with ways to convince myself that I would indeed be able to survive this break, and although I can’t say I truly found any one method that worked wholeheartedly for me, I did make it through. Was brought to my knees a number of times, for sure, but somehow I managed to get back up again.

I think the thing that helped me the most was doing what I have always done when things get tough: writing. Writing this blog, or even just thinking about what I might want to write on it, should I find the words and the energy, helped a lot. And more than that, your lovely emails and comments.. well, I couldn’t even begin to explain how much they have meant to me. To have someone who has never even met me, reach out and show that they care. That’s really something.

Then there’s that other kind of writing. The writing I do when I need to completely escape; working on my book. That’s been useful, too. To allow myself to go to another place, to think about someone else’s problems, to focus on someone else’s daily comings and goings, trying to paint it in words. Still, as I said to A. in my most recent therapy session, although in the moment it feels very much like escapism, when I read back later on – even years later – I can often see that I was working something of myself out through the characters I create, only it happens in a way that is somehow more free, less constrained by the emotional red tape I may put on myself.

And, in the midst of really struggling with near constant flashbacks, I finally found something that helps me with them; my beloved Rubik’s cube. Yes, I’ve turned into even more of a geek than I was at the beginning of the year, but, hey – if it works, it works. I’d much rather look like an absolute 80s retro nerd on the tube, than not being able to go out at all. Now, of course, solving a puzzle like this, no matter how many times you do it, it doesn’t solve the puzzle of your Self, but – honestly – it really has made a difference to my life this year. It may not get to the root of the flashbacks, but it does help me get through them, and sometimes that’s all you can ask of yourself; to get through.

And, of course, faith has got me through, too. Even when it’s felt impossible to look ahead, there is this space inside where I can go to, where I can be still, and just breathe, and know that whatever happens, there is someone who is looking out for me.. And it helps. I can’t explain it, it just does.

Sitting here, thinking back, I am – as always – struck by how lucky I am to have the friends that I have. Not to mention my absolutely amazing sisters, who I could not manage without even for a single day. To be surrounded by people who are there for me, to whatever extent I feel able to let them be. People who won’t give up on me, even when I myself have. That is a true blessing.

So, as hard as this year has been, there are also many, many things for which I am grateful.

Thanks for staying with me this year.
Hope to see you in 2013.

xx

Once again, a favourite quote at the end of the year..

“..and it’s been a long December
And there’s reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass..”

A Long December lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

PS. If the world does indeed come to an end tomorrow, could someone please let me know, as we’re an hour behind most of Europe here..

Looking Back, Moving On & Holding On To Your Dreams

Once again I find myself packing my stuff up; I’m moving on Sunday. All of about thirty metres down the street. So, in many ways, a minor move. I’m moving into a larger room in what, at least on the surface, looks like a nicer flatshare. Hard to know for sure until you’re actually there. I’m looking forward to moving out of this place. It has, without comparison, been the worst place I have ever lived. And I’ve lived in a lot of places, including spending a night on the streets of London, not knowing where to go next..

So, from that point of view, moving is a good thing. And at the same time, I can’t help but thinking that this is not how I had imagined myself living at age 35. My picture looked more along the lines of a nice flat with my man and my three children. I’d be focusing on my writing, maybe having already had a break or two, literary wise.

Instead, here I am, in a rented room. Utterly single, painfully childless, and my writing.. well, I really don’t know what happened there. So, of course there is sadness in the realisation that there is such a discrepancy between what I had been hoping for and what I’ve got. And of course it hurts to not have those things, to know that I was pretty close to all of those things only a few short years ago.

This is not to say I’ve given up on that dream, that picture. I believe it could still happen. Maybe not in the order I had initially imagined, but still recognisable as an altered version of the original image.

I don’t regret the choices I’ve made in the last few years. I think had Dev and I chosen to stay together, knowing that we ultimately wanted different things, well, I don’t think we would still be friends the way we are now. I think bitterness may have started to sprout between us. And I would never want that to happen.

Moving into the therapeutic community a few years ago was a big decision and although I’m not sure it was ever really going to be quite right for me, I do feel that I got something from being there, even though I struggle to put it into words, exactly what. Maybe space to grow? Maybe to appreciate how strong my need for independence is? Maybe realising that I can be accepted for me, even without being the good girl, without having the great job, without being the most responsible one? Even the decision to move out, I believe, was a step in the direction of feeling allowed to say “This is not good enough for me, this is not acceptable to me”.

Going into therapy? Well, that’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever done. Yes, I know – I’ve been in therapy before. Some good, some not so good. But this time around is the first time I’ve felt on a very deep level that it’s time to go that extra step, dig a bit deeper, to not run when things get scary, but to stick with it. That, painful and terrifying as it can be, I want to keep at it, want to look at those bits I am most ashamed of, the ones that are the hardest to own, to accept as my own.

So, although I’m not where I thought I’d be, I think it’s been time well spent, hours well invested. And, as I said earlier, those things that I dreamed of; that I still wish for – they could still happen.

I leave you with a few lines from a Dawson’s Creek era song:

“..I’ve got the greatest admiration
for the way that you got through it
couldn’t ask nobody else to do it
better than you do it

stay you
– that’s the toughest thing to do..”

xx

 

Lyrics from Stay You © Wood

The End Of The Beginning

It’s been a little while since my last post. Guess I just needed a bit of down time to myself to feel things through without writing things down. I’ve also been quite light on the journal writing, so it’s nothing personal. It’s not you, it’s me.

Had my final regular J-Prep session on Wednesday, including a lovely Havdalah [separation] ceremony to mark the transition between being on the J-Prep course and continuing our Jewish journeys on our own. There were hugs, tears, well-wishes, all the things you’d expect at a graduation of sorts.

I have mixed feelings about the course coming to an end. There were no tears on my behalf, but – as I said to my classmates – I think I was emotionally shielding myself from the idea of J-Prep being over by focusing on the fact that next Wednesday we’re all going on a walking tour through Jewish history in the East End, so goodbye wasn’t really goodbye.

This course has been different to any course I’ve ever taken. I’ve learnt a lot, but even more than that, I’ve grown as a person. I’ve had a place to explore my own beliefs and an opportunity to share my thoughts and feelings with other people being on a similar journey, and that’s been one of the best things with this course.

I came to the course having – naturally – read quite a lot about the religion, but it was a bookish kind of knowledge. What the course has given me is a more real way of relating to things. Also, throughout the course, I’ve more and more discovered how Judaism is about so much more than just religious beliefs and studying the Bible; how the emphasis on tzedakah [charity,  fairness, justice] and tikkun olam [healing or repairing the world] really fits very well with my own way of thinking, and the values I was brought up with.

Spent a good part of Friday’s therapy session talking about J-Prep and what it’s been like to be on the course, and one of the things I realised, sitting there talking about it, is that while I have really enjoyed being part of my particular J-Prep group, I’ve also got to know a lot of the people in the other J-Prep groups, as well as being fortunate enough to have been welcomed into the community by some long-standing members of the congregation, who have been very generous in answering my questions and sharing their knowledge and experience with me.

That I’ve been able to form relationships with people in all the different parts of synagogue life, and so, even tough the course is now ending, I will still be as active in my new community as ever.

Though I feel sad that J-Prep has come to an end, I also feel ready to take the next step; going to the Beit Din to formally complete my conversion and to move on to truly being a part of the synagogue community.

All the way through the J-Prep course I have said that my Jewish journey didn’t begin with joining the course, nor will it end with the completion of it, and that feeling has not change. This really is just the end of the beginning.

All the very best and more,

xx

PS. To read a lovely little blog post by one of my rabbis about her experience of J-Prep please click here.

To learn more about Reform Judaism in general, click here.
Or here to learn about how Reform Judaism views conversion.

I Am The Only One – The Therapeutic Relationship

Every client wants to live in the belief that he or she is the only client. Most clients realise that this is not the case, yet, somehow manage to hold on to the feeling of being the only one. It’s a very natural echo of how we as children wanted to have our parents’ full attention, to not have to share them with anyone, to be the sole centre of attention.

The therapeutic relationship is unique in the way it often allows the client to, if not completely then at least to rather a large degree, own the time, to not have to share, to be selfish in that childish way we were allowed to be as babies. For those magic 50 minutes, the time and the space – even the therapist – exists solely for you.

So what happens when that is threatened? When your space is invaded, when it becomes clear that you are not the only one? Well, usually very little, because of that knowledge at the back of your head that, realistically, you are not the only one, that you are – in fact – one of many. We may not like it, but we can deal with it. In much the same way that we learned to accept the introduction of younger siblings, or other people encroaching on our only/youngest child identity, we simply roll with the punches and adapt to this new reality.

Most of the time this is not a problem. Provided that we still feel loved by our parents, still feel important to them, we simply adjust, make way for different methods of getting what we need from them. To some degree we may even outgrow the need to be the only one.

But there are times when the intrusion is a bit too fast, a bit too invasive.

Like today.

On my way to see A. I noticed a young man walking quickly past me. I recognised him as someone who used see A., but who I was reasonably sure was no longer seeing her. The reason I recognised him was that there have been a few occasions on a Friday when I’ve arrived for session, only to find that this particular client has not yet left and I ended up having to wait outside for A. to find a way to convince him that he really has to go.

Immediately my brain started trying to work out what was going on, and having grown up with a father working in the field I’m not entirely unfamiliar with the notion of clients – past and present – having a need to catch a glimpse of their therapist’s private self and family life. [In fact there is one of my father’s ex-client who still – over 10 years after my father moved out – walks slowly past our house, always stopping by our letterbox to give it a light tap, looking longingly at us if we happen to be out in the garden..]

It’s a natural curiosity, something most of us experience at one point or another during the course of therapy. Therapy is generally such a one-sided relationship in terms of overt self-disclosure that it’s only to be expected that we’ll have some curiosity regarding our therapists. Anyone who claims to not have this absolutely normal interest in their therapist I’d say was either lying or not genuinely engaged in the therapeutic process. And while most of us won’t keep going by our ex-therapist’s house ten years after they’ve moved, I’d be surprised if not most of us have at least googled our therapist. I know I have.

So, even before I got to A.’s house I had something of an inkling of what might be going on. As it turns out I was right. When I arrived this person was standing on the doorstep, ringing the bell repeatedly, talking through the letter box.

This is where it got tricky for me. I knew it was time for me to go in, yet at the same time I didn’t really want to go up to the door and knock with an ex-client standing on the doorstep, thinking it would put A. in a very awkward position. So for a little while I hung back.

I won’t go into detail of what happened next, but things escalated at the door and it became obviously that this person was not going to leave unless made to leave. A few times he walked back to me, partly apologising to me for encroaching on my time, but mainly just being intent on telling me his side of the story, of why he needed to see A. and why she was wrong to not let him in. I decided to not engage, stood firm, telling him that while I appreciated that he was having a difficult time I wasn’t prepared to have this conversation with him.

Needless to say, once I did make it in to session it was obvious what the session would be about. It would have been ridiculous to ignore what had just happened, as both A. and I had got caught up in it, and naturally had feelings about it. I did my best to talk about it, to say how it made me feel, how it had really taken me back to similar situations when I was younger, but in the end I had to stop and acknowledge that it felt really weird to be talking only about me, feeling very aware that this incident had also had an effect on A., who looked visibly shaken.

This is one of the trickiest things about the one-sidedness of psychotherapy; that the session is there for you only, to talk about your feelings, your experiences. As I wrote earlier, normally this is what makes the relationship unique and special, and it feels good to have this space where it’s all about you. But, when things like this happens, it can also serve to make you feel that you aren’t allowed to “check in” with the therapist, to ask how they are feeling.

As humans it’s perfectly natural to want to offer something to one another by way of support, especially when something like this happens.

The therapeutic dyad is first and foremost a relationship, and I’m sure that most people who have ever been in therapy will agree with me when I say that the relationship you have with your therapist often over-shadows other relationships in your life. You’re pretty heavily invested in it, and because of that you end up having very strong feelings about the therapist. The therapist’s opinions weigh heavily, their concern for you and their ability to empathise with you is like balm for old scars. And, of course, the nature of the relationship means that you care about them. Not just about their opinions or the support they offer you, but you care about them. Just like you would in any other relationship you’ve put a lot into.

So, to not be allowed to offer support can feel very very difficult.

Anyway, I think I need to stop here. Pre-Shabbat prep to do, and I’m off to one of my rabbis for dinner in a while..

Be good to yourselves.

Love, light and peace,

xx

Home & Feeling Homeless

Was meant to move yesterday.
Spent all day Saturday packing and preparing, didn’t even make it to shul for service because I was a too stressed out about the whole thing. Had several moments of panic throughout the day, thinking I don’t really want to move, it’s the wrong decision, I’m not ready for this, it’s too scary, etc etc. You get the picture. But, eventually everything had been packed up and carried downstairs, ready for The Big Move and I tried to get some sleep.

Got up early the following morning as the van was due to arrive around 8.30.

Sat downstairs, surrounded by all my boxed and bagged up things, nervously waiting for the van.

Which didn’t come.

At 9.05 my phone rang, so I picked it up expecting it to be the removal guys. It wasn’t. It was their boss calling to tell me that the van had broken down en route to picking my things up and unfortunately they wouldn’t be able to do the move that day.

Felt absolutely crushed by this. I was already stressed out about the emotional impact of moving, and not feeling too great about the place I was moving to, and then this happened on top of that.

The next several hours, in fact the whole day after that was pretty horrible. I was just crying, feeling absolutely awful. And, yes, I know – of course it wasn’t just about the van; it was the whole thing – having built up towards this move and mentally preparing for how I was going to deal with it. And it just all came crashing down on me.

Called both of my sisters, texted Dev, did lots of things to try to manage the disappointment of it all, sitting in my now empty, echo-ey room with no books, no computer, not even a desk.

I had had the whole day mapped out; how I would move things into the new place in the early morning, then spend time beginning to sort the room out, then meet with a friend, before going back and forth between The House and the new place with little things that needed to be brought over. And in the evening I was to go back to The House for my goodbye dinner which my housemates were holding for me.

Of course that plan went out the window when the move didn’t happen. I was just so sad and disappointed and stressed out I couldn’t really get around to doing much at all. Managed to properly clean out my old room, but that’s about it, and that was done with tears running down my face the entire time. I think, as A. pointed out in session today having heard me talk about all of this; what happened was that I suddenly found myself feeling that I didn’t have a home. I’ve moved around a fair amount, and what’s been constant for me have been the things I take with me everywhere; my books, my journals, my writing, and I’ll create my home around them wherever I am. So, with all those things boxed up and with nowhere to put them, it left me feeling homeless and lost.

Needless to say, by the time I was due to meet my friend S. for lunch, I was pretty emotionally wrecked.

Enter the power of a good friend.

Yes, I cried and I still felt awful, but it was also nice to be able to see that I was able to allow the tears to come, even with my friend around. Or maybe because she was there to support me. We talked about all the worries and fears I have about moving out, what I’m leaving behind. Lots of things, and it helped me see that the tears were actually an absolutely appropriate response to what I was experiencing, and that it was OK. Talking to my friend also helped me to recognise that while all these feelings were valid, they were only what I was feeling that day, not what I would always be feeling.

Went back to The House after seeing my friend and unpacked my bedding to make my bed up again, and that helped a little with making the room feel less bare and naked, and slightly more like the room that had been my safe haven.

A little later M. knocked on my door and asked how I was doing, having heard from another housemate what had happened. So I had another tearful conversation, being allowed to tell someone yet again how horrible I felt. And that was really helpful, too; to both say and show how much I was struggling.

Later I had my farewell dinner with my house mates, which was nice. I was very touched that they wanted to do this for me, especially considering how I’ve often not been very involved with things in The House. Also I felt incredibly thankful that they were allowing me to stay another night at the house, making things a lot easier for me. C. said to me that I’ve been a member of the household for over two years, of course I could stay another night – and that felt really good, because I never feel I can take it for granted that I’ll be welcome in any place.

Stayed up quite late talking with M. after dinner, and again, that was really helpful and made it a lot easier to settle down for the night.

So, I have to say that although living at The House has often been difficult, with many many ups and downs, and there are lots of things to reflect on in the months to come, I was left with the feeling that my housemates have seen me as part of the house; that for a time The House really was my home. And that felt really really good.

xx

On My Own – An Entry About Finding New Ways To Cope

I’m at The New Place now. I moved my stuff here on Saturday and myself today. And so far it feels ok. Had a house meeting today and that went well. We had a visitor who’s also looking to come here and after the meeting me, T and C sat in the lounge talking about him, realising that we had all made almost exactly the same observations. I’m not going to go into any details about that, because that’s not really the point – I just mentioned it because it was really nice to sit there together talking. Both T and C have really made me feel very welcome. They had even put up curtains in my room and flowers on my chest of drawers. Very sweet. The other person who lives here hasn’t been around since sometime last week. In fact I’ve only met him at two meetings. T said that he has been finding it difficult being in the house and so he has been away quite a lot lately.

As I mentioned earlier I split the physical moving of things and actually moving in myself over a couple of days. It wasn’t what I had originally planned to do, but the closer I got to the big Moving Day the more stressed out I got about the physical move. So much so that I began to notice that I completely shut off all emotions I had regarding moving away from Dev and into this completely new place. So, that’s why I, in the end, decided to do it this way. Once I had moved my stuff over (and that went ridiculously smoothly) I was able to go back to the flat and spend the weekend with Dev, firstly letting go of the accumulated stress regarding the packing and unpacking etc, and then slowly allowing myself to think about what my feelings are in terms of the mental change this move will mean.

I was saying to my friend (who came over to help me with the move on Saturday) that had I still been in counselling I could probably have managed to deal with both aspects of the move in one go, but since that’s not the case I think it’s a very positive thing that I was able to work out another way to cope with it, without going back to my old habit of simply shutting down.

Having said that, I must admit that I don’t think the move has really sunk in yet. In fact I think it will be quite some time before it does. But, as I said at the house meeting today; I’ll let it take as long as it needs to. There is no need to rush anything. I have all the time in the world to wait for whatever reaction is to come and to deal with it as and when it does.

Had to go back to the flat today to get my duvet and a few bits and pieces I wasn’t able to carry when I came here this morning. Going back to the flat, seeing it looking so empty, now that all my clutter is gone – it was pretty emotional. Just before I left I switched on my iPod, and what comes on if not the piece of music Dev has composed for me. Needless to say I then had to take a moment, to just listen to the music and remember all the things we’ve been through in our five years together. Not just the difficult stuff we were so desperately dealing with for the better part of last year, but also the fun bits. And I realised that more than anything I will miss the laughter we’ve shared. For better or for worse, Dev is the only person in the world who can make me laugh so hard it sets my asthma off.

Anyway, it’s getting rather late now. I really should be going to bed. I’m just finding it a little bit difficult to settle down. There are two main reasons for that. One that it’s a different bed the one I’m used to (don’t ask!), and secondly that there are no locks on the doors. That doesn’t bother me in the day time – and I certainly don’t distrust my house mates in terms of going into my room or anything like that, it’s just that, well, with my background I just find it difficult to relax in a new place at the best of time, and I think I would have found it easier had I been able to lock the door. Again, as I said before, this has absolutely nothing to do with my house mates, it is basically old ghosts that haunt me.

Still I’m sure I’ll be able to deal with it. I remember having similar feelings both when I moved into my first flat in Sweden and the first few nights I stayed at Drayton Park. Sooner or later I’ll get used to it and it won’t bother me anymore.

It’s just a matter of finding a way to tolerate feeling a bit unsettled for a while until normality sets in.

xx

Stress, Random Thoughts & Specific Theories

Tomorrow is Friday. The first one back in the country since counselling finished at the end of December. And it does make a difference..

In the midst of dealing with the hang-over from spending Christmas in Sweden, packing up my stuff at the flat, trying to take it in that I won’t be living with Dev come next week, well, I reckon a session with D. would have been pretty perfect.
Someone who knows and understands the context of the thoughts flying around in my head, and who genuinely cares about what I do with them.

Don’t get me wrong, I am doing reasonably well. It’s just that I’m not entirely sure if that is because I’m holding back on more than I should, or because I simply haven’t begun processing all these things yet. Or maybe, just maybe, because I have actually become better at coping with things. Either way, a session with D. would quite possibly help me to at least understand which of the above guesses is more likely to be accurate. I’m not saying that it would necessarily change anything, but I do think that the clearer I am on what I’m actually dealing with, the better I can find the right balance, emotionally.

Apart from the above worries, I am also quite nervous about this new place I’m moving to. I mean, although I have lived in shared accommodation before this will be a completely new experience. Not only will I be living with people who I actually don’t know at all, but the whole set up is very different from what I have experienced before. I think it’s reasonable to assume that it will be quite a big change to deal with; house meetings with my house mates and two therapists three times a week – well, it’s not exactly the norm, is it? I expect I will struggle quite a lot to find my place in this new situation. Still, having said that, I do believe that it is the right place for me to be. I think that staying in a place where the focus is personal change/insight, and all the challenges that will present me with, I’m certain that I will gain a lot from it.

On to something different..
A book arrived in the post while a was away – Karen J. Maroda’s The Power of Countertransference – and now that I’ve finally been able to start reading it I’m finding it difficult to put it down for long enough to get any packing done.

Maroda’s take on analytic technique is one that I personally find very appealing. To a lay-person such as myself her ideas seem to make perfect sense.

I am, of course, well aware of the traditional stance in psychoanalytic thinking; that the therapist will hold back on his or her immediate thoughts and feelings, in order to allow the patient to use the therapist as a blank canvass and to not burden the patient with the feelings the he or she may have evoked in the therapist etc. This is, in essence, to avoid allowing the patient to repeat past habits and thereby reinforcing his or her set pathology. Maroda’s theory, on the other hand, is – and this is a very general and broad summary – that for real change to take place in a therapy situation the therapist must join the patient in the experience of regression, rather than merely observing it from a safe distance. In other words, the therapist needs to both be able and willing to give more of herself to the patient, so that not only the transference factor is being looked at in the sessions, but also the countertransference factor. This, naturally, means breaking off from the often authoritarian therapist-patient relationship that psychoanalytic thinking typically entails. Maroda highlights the fact that even Freud was not unknown to alter his theories when he found that his experiments didn’t pan out the way he had expected, and that as society has undergone such tremendous change in the past several decades since Freud first introduced his theories to the world, so too psychoanalytic technique needs to change. Needless to say, when Maroda’s book was first published back in 1990 it caused something of a stir amongst the practitioners in this particular field. She was not at all the first to point to what to me seem like obvious flaws in the ‘blank canvas’-approach, however, up until then any attempt to bring about change had been fairly limited and there was no structured concept, such as the one Maroda presents in her book.

Anyway, if you happen to have a bit of spare time, I’d recommend this book. It’s probably one of the most accessible and readable texts around on practical implementation of counter-transference as an active part in the therapist-patient relationship, and a very interesting one at that!

xx

Reflections

Christmas has come and gone for this year. And I survived it. (As did everyone else, as far as I can tell). Still, being Family Occasion of the Year, it does rather hightlight the fact that I didn’t spend it with my family. At least not the family I grew up with. I spent Christmas with my More Than Family, and it has been a good one. That said, there is no denying it that celebrating Christmas away from your own mum, dad, siblings and so on – well, it is undeniably attached to some sadness. That sense of I wish things were different. That they were more stable and straight forward. Naturally, that’s not to say that things are bad the way they are; only that they could be a different kind of good.

Also, being away from home (home being London, for all intents and purposes) and more importantly, away from Dev, it makes it that much more clear how difficult it will be to get used to that change, too. Yes, we very much agreed that our separating is more or less a necessity, but it is still a huge change, and something that will take some getting used to. In short; I miss him. He is my best friend, and the thought of not seeing him every day – well, it’s hard to accept, not only intellectually but emotionally as well. We have been on a huge roller coaster this year, and now that the ride is coming to an end – well, it’s filled with complex emotions. There is a very positive sense that this will allow us both to move on, and at the same time there is an almost tangible wish to hold on to all the good things we have created together. The silly inside jokes, those special moments when everything felt absoltutely right. I really hope that, looking back, those memories will be at the forefront. Because I have learnt an awful lot from him. And I will always be grateful for the part he has played in my life.

Today is my mother’s 65th. I gave her a ring earlier today. Just to wish her a happy birthday. And although it was a rather stiff and awkward few minutes I’m glad I did it. Because, no matter how complicated things are between us, well, I do hope she has a lovely day. And I hope that, maybe another year, we will be able to celebrate together. I don’t think things will ever be simple, but I do hold a firm belief that we will – eventually – find a way to communicate better, and that that will lead to us being able to find some common ground to build on.

Being here, in my home town, it is quite emotional. Even though I may not have expressed or verbalised it, I think that it’s been pretty clear to those close to me. Thankfully I’ve had a lot of support, both from those who are here, and from my friends back home. In fact, I’ve had tons of sweet and encouraging text messages from my friends, and they do help. They remind me that even when I return to England I won’t be alone. That there are people waiting for me there, too. People who are looking forward to my coming back.

xx

Changes – An Entry About Moving On

I really shouldn’t be writing this entry right now. I have a million and five other things that I should prioritise. But, me being me, I put my writing before pretty much anything else. That’s just how I am.

I’m a bit stressed out at the moment. To say the least. Dev is off to spend Christmas with his brother early tomorrow morning, so today is technically the last day we live together. And although I know that the decision to split is the right one, well, it’s hard to not become a bit sentimental looking back at the five years we’ve shared. We’ve been through so much together. And I will really miss seeing him on a daily basis. I know, I can always pop in and visit him at the flat every once in a while, but it won’t be the same, will it?

Had a Christmas card from my father the other day. It was really sweet what he had written, so it really means a lot to me. I texted him back to let him know that. At the same time, there are a lot of things that remain unsaid, and I think that in order for us to be able to move on it’s important that we find a way to communicate with one another. So I wrote an email to him, trying to be as honest as I could about my thoughts on our relationship and our family as a whole. It was quite similar to a letter I wrote my mother some time ago, and equally difficult to write. I can’t help but to worry that they won’t understand that I’m not writing in order to hurt them, but because I’ve come to a point where it’s important that I get to say things I may never have said before. As I said earlier; I think it’s our best bet to be able to find a way back to one another. Even if it’s painful while we’re still getting used to it..

Dreaded last session with D. tomorrow. No thoughts of not going, though. Again, it’s one of those things I simply have to do to be able to move on. Saying a proper goodbye. So that’s my mission for tomorrow. That, and not crashing completely once I get home after.

Had a letter in the post today, from the mother of the twins I used to nanny. Haven’t opened it yet, but I’m pretty sure what it is. See, ever since I stopped working for them (although in many ways, it feels wrong to use the term ‘working’, since I really was welcomed as a part of their family) I’ve had a calendar from them at Christmas. And not just any calendar, but one with photographs of the kids taken throughout the year. My kind of gift! It’s always lovely to see how they’ve changed each year; how they are becoming more and more grown up with every passing year. They were always two seriously funky kids – despite having had a nanny who’s absolutely bonkers – and it’s just wonderful to see how they are growing into these amazing, intelligent and independent people. Nothing could make me more proud! I am in touch with most of the kids I’ve nannied throughout the years, and it’s the best feeling in the world to see and hear from them years later, realising that they’ve turned into young adults. It’s very very special.

Flying out to Sweden early Saturday morning. I’m really looking forward to it. Nervous as anything. But I’m sure it’ll be ok. I still don’t know whether or not I will see mother. A big part of me really wants to. It’s her birthday when I’m over there, and I’d just like to be able to wish her a happy birthday. So, I was thinking I might ring her then. Communication has to start somewhere.. And change doesn’t have to happen in one go. It’s ok for it to happen slowly. As slowly as it needs to.

xx

PS. For those of you who care; it’s Kylie Sunshine’s birthday today. :)