The Bit Inbetween

I’m sitting here at my desk, thinking I should be writing about something else, but my mind is wandering around in my head and all that’s going though my mind is circles and spirals and spirals and circles, never-ending, and always coming back to the start.

You see I’m kinda in a very similar position that I found myself just over a year ago, having to move home knowing in a months time I would be jobless and about to start on a new path in my life.

And the world keeps turning.

And today, I’m aware that I have 4 weeks before I have to move again, I’m about to start an MA, my life is very different to what it was then, and will be different again once I move in own my own.

And the world keeps turning.

And as much as the sun always rises and falls reminding me that life goes on I can’t help feeling I’ve managed to end up stuck.

Stuck in a grey area. A grey area of packing boxes, rootlessness and a vague fear I’m on my own and with that brings a recrimination of myself, that I’ve brought this on myself through countless poor choices, and a continuing of mistakes that I keep making, I’ve still not learnt a valuable life lesson that keeps coming my way. But I don’t know what the lesson is, how can I make it right when I don’t know what it is?

For some one who hates the grey area, I’m choosing the wrong the career path in which the grey area is of paramount importance…

The best way I can describe where I am at the moment is stuck in that dingy narrow ‘grey’ corridor between two doors. Now I like to think that once one door closes another opens or more in my case, I’ve slammed one door shut and to hell with the corridor, I’m sprinting towards that other door and I’m hollering and shouting and banging on that other door with my fists, demanding to be let in and then wonder why, when the door has yielded, that I’m greeted with an amazement that this isn’t quite what I thought it was going to be. Arse.

So now, I have to take time, one door is shutting slowly and the other has yet to open, I need to learn to breathe in this area, take it slow, have faith that the right door will open when the time is right. It’s my defensiveness that is making it hard to be here, my keen orderly mind that has tried to control chaos like a big friendly dog, allowing it off the leash when it suits me, because maybe, I feel I would be overwhelmed if I relaxed a bit, a bit shameful that I couldn’t cope with it by myself. Maybe that’s my lesson, chaos is not a pet, it’s an entity and will not be tamed.

I’ve also been humming a song called ‘Somewhere in Between’ it’s from ‘A Sky of Honey’ from the album Arial by Kate Bush. It’s not really my favourite song from the album, but it’s a lovely piece of music, and for the last week, these lyrics have been stuck in my mind….

“Somewhere in between
The waxing and the waning wave
Somewhere in between
What the song and silence say
Somewhere in between
The ticking and the tocking clock
Somewhere in a dream between
Sleep and waking up
Somewhere in between
Breathing out and breathing in
Like twilight is neither night nor morning…”

It’s a bit grey isn’t it?  And there it was, why I’ve been humming it for well over a week, It’s all about my corridor, it’s about the grey area, it’s all about that and not about that at all.

At least it’s not Fifty Shades of Grey……  😉

– Song lyric by Kate Bush (thank you kindly for letting me reproduce it here…don’t sue me please…)

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#IceBucketChallenge……

So,

I’ve been nominated for the #IceBucketChallenge, it had to come sooner or later, I mean, I knock around with a bunch of Thespians for fun, I have nutters for mates and one very definite nutter in my family…. my brother.

He took his challenge wearing his partner’s bikini….. lovely.  Another mate upped the ante and wore a skimpy negligee…. cross dressing and soaking – great go for it!

So why am I feeling un-enthusiastic about chucking a bucket of cold water over my head….what is it that jarrs?

I’ve sat and thought about this for a while, chatted my self into a corner and still the answer is the same, sorry guys to piss on your parade but I’m not going to do it.

The fact that I can just donate my cash to the worthy causes of ALS/Water Aid/Macmillan Cancer Appeal quietly and without much fuss appeals more.

WHAT is wrong with ME???

I would have jumped at the chance to do this a few years ago, drawing attention to myself and a worthy cause….

But, what am I saying, by tipping a bucket of ice-cold water over my head? The first person who thought of this – great, you’ve got my attention, what a great cause you are donating too, and yep, to the second and third, but my whole time line on my Facebook page is made up of shrieking friends and family happily wasting water, and maybe that’s another rub??

The fact that water is precious commodity in some areas of the world also concerns me, in fact, in my chat myself into a corner thinking – I came up with a plan.  If I was going to do this I would have used the water collected in the garden water-butt – not clean out of a tap water but recycled rain with the odd dead insect floating in it…. if it was several degrees warmer than it has been this week, I probably would have done it.  Tonight as I stare out of my window writing this, it is pissing down with rain….. Hoorah, no need for buckets of iced water I can go stand out in it, the little weather people in the sky are providing the water for me to get soaked, feel vindicated and still I can donate to a worthy cause…hoorah!

Maybe, we’ve become too safe…. maybe tipping buckets of water over our heads is our own personal journey to challenge ourselves; do something different, fight the fear, remind us that we are human, that we feel, that it’s an escape from our everyday lives.  hundreds of years ago, we were fighting to survive now that we have sanitation, homely comforts, jobs, financial stability, the bucket challenge is away of connecting ourselves to our fight or flight instinct.  Complete the challenge Grasshopper, face your fear and do it…… (1970’s TV reference there…)

Maybe I’m a little bit envious too, because in my sensible old age I realise that doing this probably isn’t good for my health.  Again, if the weather was into the late 20C I may want to cool myself down, provide a laugh to my mates and donate to a worthy cause all in one go, I would be tempted, but it’s not.  It’s bloody miserable out there, it has been for most of this week.  I’m in a particularly stressful time of my life (having to move house again!) and I have to be sensible.  Boring bloody sensible.  I can’t risk catching a chill, for it to turn into something coldy for it to hit my chest and then I’m laid up with a chest infection at the same time as working and moving house.

My mum had the same idea…. she phoned me up after seeing my brother’s exploits and the nomination I received from him.  “I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to do that.” she said. “Specially with what you’ve got ‘wrong‘ with you.” She continued.

That in itself was enough for me to want to find the nearest bucket, ice cubes and water and tip it over my head at least twice, but then I think that’s saying more about me than the need to donate to charity……

 

Role Models

Now this is a strange one.

I had no intention of writing anything on the subject of Role Models, it hadn’t even crossed my mind.  Until Wednesday.

Tuesday the news broke that Robin Williams, American Actor, Comedian and Improviser had died.  The internet was awash with headlines and quotes, Nanu Nanu – Mork calling Orsin, and so on.

Yes it was shocking that a man who had seemed to battle so many demons and won should take his own life, but for me, although I remember Robin Williams as Mork from Ork in Happy Days before the Mork and Mindy Days, it was his open and frank interview with Jonathan Ross a few years ago that made me sit up and really pay attention to the man whom I’d often thought of as just a talented Actor, Comedian and Improviser.

You see I watched this interview as I was going through a bit of a health scare of  my own and I was struggling to find the words to explain how I was feeling, and here Robin Williams was describing exactly how I was feeling, what he had been through and how it made him feel and yes, he made it all so very hysterically funny, but he was using words I could connect with, he was, watching him on the TV screen, someone who had been through it and come out the other side.

And through these last few days I was wondering why the news of his death had touched me more than I thought it should have, and I guess it’s because I looked up to him as a role model.

Yes that’s right I said Role Model.  You see, even though I have been in denial a lot about ever having a heart condition especially since my last OHS where I believed I was sorted and that day where I would need more surgery would just never come, I have actually never had a positive role model who has had a CHD. Though Robin Williams’ aortic valve replacement was not due as far as I can tell to a CHD, it’s the same valve that I will need replaced.

I also have a soft spot for Arnold Schwarzenegger, his is a CHD, born with a defected aortic valve he was lucky in that he was financially able to get his replacement valve made from his own transplanted tissue! If I had the chance to do that I would do it in a…ahem… heartbeat…  His reasoning – he would not be able to participate in his rigorous exercise regime if he had the mechanical valve surgically grafted to him, (and just knowing that has handed me a rather large bag of questions that I’ll explore another day).

The definition of a role model:
A person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.
So yes, I can say that these two people have been role models to me, they have lived through something I’ve yet to do, it has informed their work (Williams – did a whole stand up tour based on his OHS experiences) and they have embraced it has part of themselves – something if I am honest I still feel a bit odd about doing, and they have talked openly about their experiences.
Looking closer to home I guess my own mum should she have been my earliest and most consistent role model.  Herself having a CHD, was lucky enough to be one of the first children in Norfolk to have OHS in the 1950’s and lucky enough to have such a good surgeon that her particular defect was 99% corrected.  So I guess she never felt the issue of having a CHD weigh her down much (this is a massive presumption on my part), never had check ups after she was discharged, and went on to lead a very active and sporty life.  To me she was superwoman, and I often struggled with the understanding that my own personal defect was very different and much more complicated than hers, thus resulting in 3 ops and never fully being discharged from check-ups and tests, and never allowed to be sporty, and I guess I resented that fact and hence went into some sort of freakish denial in my late teens/early twenties where everything was fine….
I guess I am understanding more and more now I am at that point in my life where I am mixing with families and friends who have children, how important it is to have positive role models, to see that it’s ok to have defects and imperfections and still be successful, contributing and important part of our own little worlds.
So going back to Mr. Williams, he spoke on that chat show making his experiences funny, but I could see underneath the terror that he must have been feeling at the time, they way he kept saying ‘I came back’ something I’m finding out that a lot of people who have had a major surgery and specially those that have had several surgeries often say ‘I came back’ it was like an unspoken bond between us, he understood where we had gone and how we had come back.  He also said something else – before his valve was diagnosed as very badly damaged, he kept saying that he was feeling like a ‘clockwork toy winding down’ It was exactly how I was feeling at the time of watching him in this interview, somebody had taken my key out and I was winding down, slower and slower and no energy to get things done.  Luckily for me my diagnosis was something completely different from being heart related and it was sorted, but the symptoms never the less, were very similar.
And as I write and remembering the newspaper headlines I have read today, I am struck by something else.  It makes me sad, but I understand.
Rest in Peace Robin Williams, guy that just happened to have a heart defect….

 

 

Goodbyes

How do you feel about goodbyes? Relieved, sad, couldn’t give a toss. It’s something that I’ve never really thought about but I do know I have been totally shit at them. I probably still am. Is there such a thing as a ‘good’ goodbye??

The past week I’ve done quite a few goodbyes, good-bye Therapy Foundation Course, goodbye play, goodbye way of life for just under a year, goodbye fellow travellers on the journey of the foundation course.

When I think about it, my last few real goodbyes have left me feeling pretty shit about myself, as I if there was something wrong me, like I was some kind of unlovable monster with two heads that was really undeserving of any kind of care at all.

Last week, I said goodbye to my fellow students on the foundation course all I can say was that the tutors prepared us extremely well. How? We talked about it! We talked about the fact that today was the day we were going to say goodbye. There was lots of visualisation, lots of letting go, almost ceremonial actions. The writing of notes to each member of the group passing them to each other in silence, reading what each one of us had written about the other and expressing an instant reaction to that. Nothing was hidden or swept under the carpet. Only a few of us will be moving on to the next stage of the course, so for a lot of us, it was a final goodbye as we all came from different parts of the southwest!

I left not feeling like shit, I left not feeling like I had shut down and become cold to the fact that this was the last time I would be seeing some of these people, of going through the motions devoid of allowing myself to feel anything except a the burden of responsibility that its my fault they don’t like me enough to keep in contact….

I felt, celebrated, loved, emotional, so bloody emotional and we were allowed to feel those things until the natural time came to say goodbye – (for some of us it was midnight in a grimy club after beer had been consumed…. hardcore til the end…. 😉 )

It got me thinking about the first time I encountered the finality of goodbye….

I don’t remember it of course I was one and half years old, when the porters came to take me down to theatre for my first open heart surgery I was bouncing around the bed laughing my head off. The nurse couldnt’ believe that I had already had my pre-med and it became very clear that it was going to take them more than the average dose to knock me out…. So they gave me a bigger dose and that’s when I went limp. As I say I don’t remember this story, this is my mother’s story and I cannot, cannot, imagine how horrific it was for her, at what happened next.

They had to peel me off her as she held it together. They had to uncurl my arms from around her neck, and unclasp my fingers from her hair and put me on the trolley to take me to surgery. No goodbye. As I say mentally I do not remember that goodbye, but I think the conscious collective and even my own body may think otherwise….

So for me, the first time I came across the whole meaning of goodbye, the whole finality of goodbye was when I was 6years old at my second operation. I was still trying to get to grips with what was happening to me as I found myself being wheeled down to theatre, watching the ceiling of the corridor slide over my view, if I titled my head back and rolled my eyes upwards I could see the upside down faces of my mum and dad as they followed the trolley down. I did not realise that they would not be coming in with me to the theatre itself……the goodbye was rushed, I had cottoned on pretty quickly that this were I was meant to be brave and that what happened here, how I was coping with this goodbye was crucial for them getting through the next 4 hours.

Hindsight is a funny thing isn’t it? I came back from that goodbye sore, groggy, thirsty and wired up to machines. I had lost four and half hours of my life and I didn’t know where… but I had come back. I wonder now if unconsciously we had all slammed into that goodbye as if I always was coming back, that what was going on in those 4 1/2 hours of unconsciousness was just not important. I was back and that was main thing. Goodbye shmuwdbye, I’ll always come back. Maybe if we’d talked it through, I wouldn’t be so shit at goodbyes now. John Bowlby would call it an abandonment issue… I’ll leave that up to you to research and make your mind up.

Anyhoo…. I also worked on a show last week, I staged managed a show calling the cues to lights, sounds and visual effects. The play was called Pornography, it was about the week leading up to the 7/7 bombings in London, the week of Live8, winning the Olympic bid… it was a very powerful, emotive production. To me the play was about grief, I watched the play nearly every night in my job as SM, each night a different character spoke to me about their grief, the whole play spoke about the power of the not goodbye, I cried every night at the end of the play.

So yes, goodbye course and fellow students, goodbye production and wonderful hardworking talented cast, goodbye words of an amazing play, goodbye vision of the director and production team, I have been allowed to sit with all these goodbyes and feel what I feel and I feel ok. I’m not a crap person, I’m not shit at goodbye at all. You’re great, I’m great but our time is at an end, time to go and good go with you.

Until next the next blog update of course…. 😉

Losing Touch

Well, it’s been almost two months since my last post!  2 months, it’s the longest time I’ve not written since I started my blog!

I’ve not been ignoring it though, I have been quietly mulling over something and just needed the right angle from which to write, I was just thinking how out of touch with my blog I was being and, well, yep, that was the angle.

I guess for me, the last few weeks, I’ve really lost touch with myself as well.  I was on half term with my course, I had handed my essay in and it was handed back to me with great feedback. I applied for the MA in Psychotherapy to carry on with my training and my tutor gave me a great reference, I got an interview.  But something had changed.  Somehow lethargy and complacency had stepped in and taken over.  I stopped reading, I started with some of the other students to really talk to each other about stuff instead of practicing our skills in the correct way in the unsupervised training sessions.  I wasn’t feeling ‘it’ anymore.

I went to my interview, I got in.  So why wasn’t I jumping around the room with joy when I received the letter of acceptance like I did when I got accepted onto the current Foundation Course? Why did I feel weirded out, along with a feeling of dread and a ball of anxiety forming in my stomach?  I had already left.  In my head, I made my peace with not being accepted and silently had said goodbye to my fellow students and was ready to go back to full-time work and back to the life that I couldn’t wait to get away from almost a year ago.

I can see now that I was getting ready to take the easy option.  Leave and be done with it.

And to an extent I am still feeling slightly ‘wooly’ and fearful about the whole next year.  But a few things from the world of synchronicity and, if you are a fan of the philosopher Karl Jung – ‘The Collective Consciousness’ was telling me that actually this is the right path for me.  If you don’t read Jung or believe in ‘The Collective Consciousness’ that’s cool too.

I  re-read an email that was sent to me a while ago.   It was from a Psychology student who also volunteers at the Somerville Foundation with me.  We’ve never met but I took part in her final research project. The email was her write-up of her investigation into the need for a provision of emotional/mental health support for those who have and have contact with those with a CHD.  It makes fascinating reading.  The title “At some point, something is going to break”: Discovering the experiences of adults with congenital heart disease, sums it perfectly for me!  At one point I am going to go into this research and write a proper literary review of it, it’s so important!

It is a comprehensive and intelligent paper on how often those adults with a CHD often feel emotionally vulnerable, a need to be seen to be strong and sorted, and a fear that they will be seen as different.  I really wish I could link to it, or cut and paste it all here for you to read as it is really an important piece of research and evidence into what so many CHD-ers are feeling – a worry that something will break, that our bodies have taken on a physical, emotional and mental assault and basically we get tired sometimes of dealing with that trauma, speaking from experience, it is a trauma, believe me…

Within my volunteering work in the last week or so, I’ve spoken to many people enquiring about a therapeutic/counselling service for their needs.

Then an a friend who I haven’t really spoken to for ages, out of the blue, emailed me explaining that she had heard of a placement going for a trainee therapist and would I be interested!

Jung’s theory really was alive and kicking – ‘The Collective Consciousness’ –  which I’m beginning to slightly soften too, was telling me that I am on the right path, that what I am doing is of value and hopefully when I’m qualified people will begin to take me seriously when I say there is a need for this type of service to those affected and effected by CHD.

So I am on the right path, the next year is not going to be easy, there are many things I want to do beside studying and training.  I’d like to start earning again, I’m going to have to be organised and sensible (yawn!) and really listen to myself and surroundings instead of developing my Ebay habit even more than what it already is.  But If I keep in touch with myself, I’m sure I can do it.

The Heart M.O.T

I had my 8 monthly check up the other week.  I have always likened it to my car being taken in for it’s MOT.  Even when I was a child it was known as MOT time. Of course the time in between MOTs varies to how well I’m doing.  A few years ago I was going up nearly every month, now it’s reached a nice plateau of every 8 months, I’m hoping I can get it back to an annual MOT very soon.

I am very lucky in the fact that I have been able to stay with the cardiac unit where I grew up.  They’ve known me since I was a baby, and yes there was a transitional stage where I was no longer a child and they didn’t know where to put me, but luckily enough GUCH (Grown Up Congenital Heart) clinics had started up, due to the fact there were more of us surviving into adult hood.  So,  I’ve been with my present cardiologist for 25 years!

Yes, it is a bit of a drag having to travel up to East Anglia, I have to schedule work holidays to fit it in, but it’s lovely to catch up with family and friends as well while I’m there.

So I went to my appointment with no expectations.  I arrive and have the usual tests; ECHO Cardiogram – I remember when these machines were first used for heart patients, I was in my teens, the picture quality was even more ropey than it is now, but if you imagine a scan on an unborn baby that’s what it looks like.  Except it’s your beating heart on the TV screen and not a baby. It works in the same way too, bouncing little sonic waves off your heart to get the picture, it’s a sonogram of the heart.

It can provide a wealth of information, including the size and shape of the heart, pumping capacity, and can show any tissue damage.   As well as creating an ultrasound images of heart structures, but it can also produce accurate assessment of the blood flowing through the heart, using pulsed or a continuous wave of ultrasound. This allows assessment of both normal and abnormal blood flow through the heart. To me it sounds like someone is slapping a very wet towel around by my head and I can make no sense of it apart from a little fantasy of it being used in the end credits to Dr. Who (remember in the 70/80’s that Schhshshgfthghshsoooso sound at the end of the credit music for Dr. Who – that’s what it sounds like…. )

The position you have to lie can be quite uncomfortable but the staff there do the best they can, I’ve had the same woman do my scans for well over two decades now and I’m sure she must be up for retirement soon, but she’s lovely, she knows me and knows how to get the perfect ‘picture’ of my heart with its chambers and valves.

The little ‘pen’ used to roll over your chest to take the pictures along with the cold jelly gunk on your chest (fnar fnar!!) 😉   Yes, I said ‘jelly’ and ‘gunk’  and you can smirk….  I know all the jokes about having cold gunk on my chest thank you, I think I wrote some of them…..

Anyway, the pressure that needs to be put on the chest to get the best picture can make me feel quite nauseous, but I can concentrate on the screen and marvel at my beating heart – I can just about recognise the 4 chambers of it and the flappy bits of my valves in motion.  When I was younger I would perversely try to stop my heart from beating by just willing it to stop and holding my breath, just to see what it would look like…. I don’t do that now, I’ve learned that it will beat beyond my willing it to stop and that my control freakery has met its match… the beating heart is a pretty wonderous thing.

Next up was an ECG Electrocardiogram.  More cold gunk on the chest along with the wrists and ankles and little electrodes are attached to the skin.  The ECG is used to measure the heart’s electrical conduction system, I think I mentioned earlier in my blog (here) that they think I have a slight heart block, that is, the electrical conductivity of my heart is a bit mis-wired due to the surgery I’ve had.  This used to be a torturous test when I was a kid, I would have to lie very, very still or the electrodes, that were little suckers at that time, would keep falling off if I moved or laughed, and I would always, always start to laugh during this test, at nothing.  So great big swathes of print-out would have to be binned as the electrodes would pick up the movement in my body.  Today, I still get the urge to laugh at nothing, but everything is so advanced now it doesn’t matter if I move.

In fact, I had a bit of a chat with the technician who was doing the ECG test.  She told me how feared my cardiologist was amongst the nurses and technicians in the cardiology clinic.  “You just have to hear her high heels clicking down the corridor and you get really tense!” she confided.  “She’s a bit of a dragon…..”  I just smiled.  She’s right, I have seen her shout down the phone and throw it down in disgust when my records got lost, but I have also seen her praise her team in theatre when she was performing an angiogram on me, especially thanking the theatre nurse who looked after me, and who had to hold her fist to my groin applying pressure for half an hour after the procedure so I didn’t lose too much blood.  I find the click of her heels down the corridor re-assuring, she’s an amazing woman, she knows what she wants for her patients, she can be critical of student cardiologists whom she mentors but only because she wants them to do well, she gives 100% every time and she expects everyone around her to do the same. I like her and we’ve had some very frank conversations over the years.

But I think this one was the most real and probably the most emotional. She is reading the tests results that I have had that afternoon, we have a brief catch up on how my health has been in the last 8 months – really well – something to do with not working I think 😉  I tell her my plans to become a counsellor for cardiac patients and all about my course and she smiles and says “Yes, I think you’ll be very good at that, at the empathy and understanding.”  “I think there is a real need for it.” I reply, and then I say something that I never thought I would ever say to her… “From my own experience, it’s not that I’m ungrateful for all that you have done for me, but my own heart ‘condition’ and the surgery has been the root of a few of my problems….” and our eyes meet and I can see that I have touched her, I have made her think and I think I may, for a second, have made her sad.

She finishes by listening to my heart, taking my blood pressure – different in each arm! But thats ‘cos of the many angiograms on my right arm as a child. Mentioning my weight… I know, I know, I KNOW!!!! Hell! I’m active 3 times a week, I’ve even started running!  She gives me a picture of my ECG to carry around with me and makes me take a picture of it with my phone, just in case my heart goes crazy and A&E need to see my normal, abnormal heart rhythm. I leave with an appointment to see her in December.

So here it is, if you can read it, please let me know as I have long forgotten how to…. enjoy the ‘art‘ my heart makes….

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Why.

I’ve recently been in contact with ‘Your Voice Counselling’ a service in Bristol.  They were looking for guest bloggers and I asked if I could be involved and to write about my experience on why I wanted to be a counsellor….

So here goes….

I was coming up to graduation in 1996 and I made some offhand comment about maybe wanting to become a counsellor.  I was a mature student so a good five/six years older than my friends and sometimes I felt very motherly to them, and I  listened to their problems, ideas, worries and concerns.  Though maybe when I look back at that time, I was probably far too judgemental.

Looking through my phone notes recently (I use my phone to record notes for my blog, my journal for my course, anything that pops into my head that I may refer to or use later).  Anyway looking through my phone notes recently I came across a note dated 9/9/2012 ‘Research Counselling for Cardiac Patients’  I remember where I was when I wrote that note, I’d been to the zoo with friends, we were in a pub garden, one pint down, hot weather, good mood, my tongue gets a bit loose and I start chatting about therapy and that’s when I come out with it.  And that’s where it stayed, on my phone.

This time last year, I knew I was leaving my job, I did not know what I was going to do when I walked out of the door of my office for the last time, but I knew I could not, just could not, work behind a desk in an office again.  EVER.

I asked for some Careers Counselling, I had two sessions.  The counsellor with whom I worked with was amazing, we did some exercises and pulled out from that my strengths and weaknesses, what I enjoyed doing not necessarily in the working world  but also in my world of hobbies and fun.  From that we pulled out words such as nurturing, communication, dance, caring, organised.  It was the counsellor that suggested Dance Therapy.  I wasn’t so sure, but I did some research and found a summer school.  A few weeks later from that first session I woke up one day and really knew what I wanted to do.  I wanted to be a counsellor, and work with cardiac patients. That slightly alcohol fueled statement I made in the beer garden over a year ago suddenly made perfect sense.

But how??

I love the internet, love it! I can find out so much stuff, never let me loose on a Wikipedia page, I’ll be jumping from one thing to the other for hours on end.  Anyway, I applied for the dance therapy summer school as a taster into something therapy related.  I found courses at UWE and Bristol college for counselling but they required but all were full for Sept 2014.  I stumbled upon the Bath Centre for Psychotherapy and Counselling (BCPC) quite by accident, but as soon as I read the website I just knew that this was for me.  I applied, got a late interview, and just over 2 years to the day from that note tapped into my phone I paid my fees and started on the Foundation course for Counselling and Psychotherapy at BCPC.

And its been?

Hard, wonderful, life changing, emotional, traumatic, challenging, draining.  I’m just coming to the end of my second term.  I’ve completed an essay that I thought I’d never be able to write.  It was enjoyable and frustrating, there were days when I wrote as little as 100 words, but I had to keep telling myself that they were 100 words more than what I had started with.  I have no-idea if it’s good or not.  A fellow student likened the process to knitting a jumper and was wondering what sort of jumpers we had all knitted.  Well if my essay was a jumper it would have 3 arms and be slightly longer than asked for…..

I have had to be in supervision, as we were told, the course has brought up stuff and issues that I didn’t really know I had.  I have had face up to some unpleasant things about myself, face my fears, re-live my second operation, look at my life and the choices I have made.  Its made me examine my relationships with friends, family and a loved one.  It’s not easy, I know I am changing, how many of those most close to me will be able to deal with that and expect me to be the person I was a few months back, a year back even.  Relationships have already ended, some cut loose, others have become so much stronger and supportive as I move forward.

I have grieved and mourned and celebrated and panicked and raged.  I’ve spilled much of myself on the floor and spent a good many months wondering how the fuck I was going to mop myself up and replace everything in any kind of normal functioning order.

And then there are the practicalities, of money, of bills, of being a killjoy as I can’t afford to go out, of trying to find a job that I can do whilst I study, without being seduced by the ‘dark-side‘ of having a disposable income at the cost of my soul, being a desk monkey.

And that’s just the first two terms of the first year.

At the moment I need to decide if I’m going to carry on and, if I am what direction I will take.  I am at the fork in the yellow brick road, and there is no friendly scarecrow to help me decide the way.  This is my decision to make.

Do I take the counselling route that could take up to 4 more years or do I take the psychotherapy route that could take up to 6 more years……. Do I have the financial resources to do this?  More importantly.  Do I have the emotional strength to do this?

This week I’ve been feeling that I’m punching above my weight, that me, from my council estate background, should really go back home and work in a shop.  That I’ve been silly for ever thinking that I could do this, because look, look at the worry and the stress you are putting on your family as you scrabble around wearing 6 jumpers and three pairs of socks as you don’t want to turn the heating on more than necessary, eating waffles and baked beans cos its cheap, it can’t be healthy.

I’ve worried about not being any good at this career path I want to take, a fear of falling at the last hurdle, of dedicating years of my life to be told, sorry you don’t cut it, you can’t be a counsellor/psychotherapist at the end.

I’ve raged and despaired that I feel that I’m doing this on my own.

And then I remember why I’m doing this, I’m doing this because I BELIEVE there is a need for this sort of support for EVERYONE not just cardiac patients, but everyone who feels alone or anxious or scared, for anyone who feels that they don’t belong, that are looking for their place in their world.  The joy I feel in my skills practice when someone has said, you really understood me, you really helped me.  The discussions I have with fellow students, the learning about Jung, Rogers, Freud, Gendlin.  The way my mind had been opened and expanded, the amusement that I’m finding I’m quite political and have been all along, that there is a feminist within me and always has been.

‘All You Need is Love‘ sang The Beatles….. I’d agree, but make it therapeutic love….