Introspective Spiral

I’ve just sent off my draft to my counsellor talking about my most recent experience of suicidal thoughts and actions and of the journey back. Unsurprisingly it has raked up a lot of thoughts, emotions, and memories.

What has surprised me has been how much more difficult it has been to get it all down on paper rather than talking about it. It has done more than just make me stumble over those words, and had me in tears in the kitchen this evening.

Quite impressive for something barely over 900 words long. It took me five attempts to start, and in the end bluntness was the only way to make it happen. It mirrors the process of taking these things into session – building up and digging over implications and deductions to work out the whys and connections.

I may post it here at some point. If I do it will be heavily marked with warnings.

If you are in that dark lonely place, dare to reach out. Don’t let go. People will listen and care, and they may be the people you least expect. Don’t give up. Talk.

Return of the Mini-Weekend

So my weekend started today after working my Saturday, and I’ve been quietly enjoying the sunshine, that and the knowledge that I’m also off on Monday. I’ve been mostly just enjoying being in my own head after a week of being around people at work – and I definitely plan to spend some time quietly by the river tomorrow – mostly reading and writing.

And following my most recent counselling session this evening, I’ve got an interesting challenge. I’ve been asked to write a piece that can be used in a training session as a testimony – in this case to talk about when I’ve been suicidal: both in terms of lead up and what came after on the counselling side. I’ve agreed to do it, so a quiet spot by the river without interruptions sounds a good spot to have that introspection.

It’s not the first time I’ve written about my “journey” for use in a class. It’s been a while though. The last time was more focused on recovery from self harm and was both challenging and rewarding to be able to be a coherent voice speaking to people directly and give a perspective on what they may encounter. It’s the same reason I’ve agreed to do it this time – because I want to talk about how I didn’t make it obvious to people that I was in a spiral, but also how it felt to be able to talk about it in counselling once the crisis moment was past. If it helps someone with a future client its worth it.

Counselling Nuggets

I’ve been going to the same counsellor now for the best part of twenty years. Initially it was do deal with issues around trauma, depression, anxiety, and prolific self harm, but these days is as much a clear space to keep grounded and to work through and process life in general. Lady M has recently started seeing one too.

I mention this because we had a huge power cut a couple of evenings ago in our neighborhood. With our usual aplomb we both said ‘candles’, turned on the torches on our phones, and soon had enough light from various sources to relax on the sofa and have a quiet natter about life, the universe, and everything else our attention latched onto.

Lady M started recounting how she was talking about our polycule in session, and how supportive her counsellor had been. From various online discussions I’ve become aware of just how lucky we are to have found people who have not been judgemental, let alone supportive of how and who we love. Some of it seems in support of something that makes us happy, and some of it is recognition of the emotional labour and honesty required to make these – and indeed any – relationships flourish.

While all of us are out – and in general have had positive regard from co-workers and most of our families, it has still been hugely important to have these structured places to be able to talk in depth about each other and what’s going on in our collective and individual lives. Humour plays a huge part in how we talk about and to each other – and while it’s not my place to recount what Lady M says she talked about and the responses she got, I do want to share something from one of my recent sessions.

I’d been talking about myr s and their embracing of their non-binary journey and was asked how the changes made me feel. I said that the great advantage to my partners of my being bisexual was that I can put my hands in their pants and be very happy with whatever I found there. It took my counsellor a good couple of minutes to stop chuckling.

Ruminations

I was in therapy last week, talking about various events in a busy couple of weeks, and how I’m keeping on top of some things, and how other things are knocking at me, and otherwise having a mental and emotional check-up.

As anyone who’s worked their way through counselling can tell you, it’s hard work that spares no blushes when everything clicks – and your relationship with your therapist can be as intimate when it comes to knowing each other as a long term partner. They learn what makes you tick, your tells, your buttons, and at their best when to back off and let you do the heavy digging.

That’s certainly the relationship I have with my counsellor – leading to more than one conversation where we’ve talked about her being as much my partner as either Lady M or lady s when it comes to our therapeutic relationship.

One of the things we explored was my sexuality, and in no small part how the attack so long ago has impacted on how I’ve expressed it over the years. The conversation veered between romantic and platonic connections past and present, and while contemplating it, I said the following (slightly paraphrased):

“For years I’ve not been comfortable showing or talking about myself, let alone exploring what it means to be me. Fear has been with me literally for decades, mixed up in the memories of the assault, but it’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve been able to start to reconcile things in my head.

Over the last couple of years I’ve met and got to know such a wide range of people at kink events and general social occasions that it’s helped me to start to separate the pain and violence of the attack from the sexual aspect and honestly come to be more comfortable in who I am and how my attractions manifest.

It’s my partners, metamours, and friends that have surrounded me with love and accepted me as I start to let go. I’m still having hard times, by more and more I’m just getting irritated and angry about them than being overwhelmed.”

Now, we talked about a lot else and the above is mildly edited for brevity, swearing, and other material that I’m either not going to talk about or that is irrelevant right now.

When I finally stopped talking, my counsellor gave me a picture to consider and think on, based on what is been saying – telling me that it matched the mental image she had of me while I talked.

The picture, if you hadn’t guessed, is the lion in the picture in this blog entry. It has a lot of resonance for me – and for my partners for various aspects they have experienced of me.

There’s all sorts of symbolism of fierceness, nobility, pride (and indeed Pride), polyamory (multiple lionesses tolerating me), and protectiveness. There’s a lot more to unpack, and I’ll probably have a whole string of blogs as I pick over the various meanings, projections, and inferences that I bring to it.

So that’s what I’m quietly ruminating over at the moment

Idle Musings

My motivation to blog continues to be all over the place, but I’m largely blaming that on being a busy little bee, and in usually being in the middle of something when a blog idea occurs. Alternatively I write something and then donate it to someone else – like the blog article I wrote about a week ago and gave to Lady M for her TWITT blog. 


That means that I’ve been thinking of updates and commentary on a blog post that will be posted next month some time. It started as a random observation along the lines of ‘Things Lady M says’ and turned into a slightly rambling rant about unconscious bias and our inability to spot our own blind spots. I may have been a bit tipsy and in a weird mood at the time. I’ll link to it when it goes live and then we can all laugh about it together.

That, and a chat with Lady G about writing, led me to have a long discussion in my most recent counselling session about not wanting to rely on drinking to cue writing sessions when inspiration is in sparse supply. The stereotype of the alcoholic writer exists largely because of the disinhibition that comes with even a small amount; and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit there were occasions where a looming deadline had been met with the aid of a glass of scotch or two. 

On those occasions I found I was winding myself up as a perfectionist and paralysing myself with a fear of even starting. A bit of alcohol helped me not care enough so that I could just make a start. Tidying it up afterwards was simple enough once I had something to edit.

My concern was that this not become a habit or to be under any illusion that it was necessary. I’m all too familiar with how what seems to be an effective tool can become a crippling necessity from my experience with self harm. There were parts of that nightmare that at times felt as much like addiction as a horrendously flawed survival mechanism. I have no desire to revisit them. 

It’s not even as if I need alcohol to come up with ideas, as anyone who’s seen my brainstorming notes on Twitter can testify. The surreal and eye-catching tends to come easily (yay me!), and as one of my oldest friends once remarked: my humour is insidious in how it tends to creep up behind you, tap you on the shoulder, and then summon dread Cthulhu to tapdance in your cerebellum. I have no idea quite what they meant, but it sounds hilariously squamous.

Incidentally, my counsellor agreed I don’t have a drinking problem, problematic drinking, or even a difficult relationship with alcohol. We will no doubt be spending more time on why I feel the need to worry about the possibility and what it says about my self-confidence in continuing to recover. Either that or I’ll engage in sarcastic diversion tactics while she skewers me with painfully direct observations that send me spinning after my own tail. Well, as I said to someone recently: I do appear to be the human incarnation of a labrador at times…

Looking To The Future

I’ve wanted to get further training in counselling skills for a number of years. When I started volunteering with the Surrey Drug and Alcohol Careline (as it was then called), I took part in their training programme which served as an introduction to counselling. This only confirmed what I’d already picked up from many long conversations over the years in self-help groups and friends – that I seem to have a knack and aptitude for listening and helping people talk things through.

It’s an impression that my counsellor has confirmed across thirteen years of treatment – to the degree that she’s now helping me pick through the poorly documented and irritatingly diverse number of types of accreditation and training available. It’s proving an uphill and frustrating struggle, but I shall soldier on.

Volunteering

Another week, another trip to the job centre – I’m now moved upstairs in the category of “long term unemployed, and we’re not sure why” – which equates to slightly more push being given to try and work out why nothing seems to be working yet. My suggestion that I’m cursed didn’t seem to carry much weight, while the suggestion that I have been tarred with the “local government” stigma by private companies so they won’t hire me, while most councils aren’t actually making hiring decisions in my field while the budget concerns are up in the air got a rueful acknowledgement.

So to try something different I’m meeting the local volunteer services tomorrow to see if I can get some experience towards counselling, or something similar, to draw on my experiences and my coaching training. It would seem to be an option to open some doors without slamming them on the on-going job hunt, while also being something else to cram onto the CV.

I’m hoping it will give me some insight at least into whether counselling is a new career path that I would want to do – given how many people have encouraged me in this direction in the past. If it turns out to not be something that floats my boat, at least I’ll have tried without spending money on training courses first.

At least it will get me out of the house…