With pride and prejudice
First published 2019
I saw my therapist today as I do most Fridays. We meet in his cabin, a little wooden structure at the foot of his garden complete with fire, futon, cushions (my cushions) and a lovely soft, deep blue throw rug. He has books with wonderful titles that migrate around the shelves taking different vantage points on our conversations from week to week. I imagine them fluttering around when it’s dark but I’m pretty sure it’s just that he reads them and puts them back in different places. It amuses me to see which one is observing us each session — for some reason I have never told him that.
This little cabin is the safest place I have ever been. A place that will hold me when the cracks are deep, a place for philosophical debate, a place to celebrate and a place to cry. I love this cabin.
It hasn’t always been like this. I have seen a wide range of therapists. Each has failed. I have tried NHS referrals and private practice in an effort to find some respite. Too scared to share the pain inside me with people who knew less than I did about the trauma nibbling away at my neurons. I read. If there is a topic I want to understand I will dive deeply in to it’s waters and the people I met did not. Consequently I told no one. Until I met Steve.
I had been attending the Priory for a while as an outpatient. As the calendar counted down to my eldest’s 7th birthday my wellness was deteriorating. I was not conscious of the connection until one damp day when I had fallen out of bed, dressed, unwashed, and made it to the group therapy session on time. I never normally spoke at these sessions. People with bigger issues than me attended. In-patients, many of whom had survived suicide and been enrolled as a consequence. I remember my place in the session as if it were a photograph. I was wearing a maroon funnel neck fleece, scruffy jeans and scrappy converse trainers. I was sitting in a pose reminiscent of a belligerent teenager, slumped back, legs outstretched, chin deep in my fleece neck, arms and ankles crossed. A great ‘fuck off’ pose. But something shifted that day. Steve came in a couple of minutes late. He sat in the vacant chair which happened to be beside me. He leaned in as he does with his legs crossed as if they could wind themselves around each other in a spiral. His hair was shaggy, unclear where it met his beard. It was warm, honest and safe.
I don’t recall when in the hour long session I started talking but I do remember that after I did I didn’t stop until our time was up. Every person in that room had met me several times before in sessions where I said nothing and heard their darkest thoughts. As they left the room each laid a hand on my shoulder and spoke. Never in my life had I felt so heard, so forgiven and so worthy. I sat and cried, deeply, for a long time.
That was 4 years ago and the first time I ever told my story.