This being what H thought of counselling.

[May’s version is here. May also promises she did not even read H’s version before she posted it.]

So, I was surprised to discover that it has nothing to do with selling
couns… sorry, just had to get that out of my system first.

Session 1:
We arrived early and left late – felt rather guilty about stretching
the 50 minutes into nearly an hour. I think I remember the issues
raised, but the order may be a little muddled, so may not tie in
exactly with May’s account (defence in early, you’ll notice). However,
overall this was pretty much as I expected a first session to go.
Mainly a getting to know you and what the major issues are session and
we had quite a lot of that to get through over and above the usually
job/background stuff. I think May found it somewhat cathartic to
unburden a lifetime of bad/chaotic medical treatment, historic and
ongoing, and the counsellor (referred to as C from herein) was
appropriately sympathetic and reassuring that grief is/can be a be a
long process and May needn’t be over it. Do we have anything to
commemorate the event? We told of our paper boats in the event – but
that’s a very letting go thing to do what if you’re not ready to let
go haven’t finished grieving? C suggested that we find something that
we can both refer to when we want to think of Pikaia (no we didn’t
share the name).

C then turned to me – What did I want to get out of counselling?
Despite May’s warnings, I hadn’t really prepared a great answer to
this obvious question. So, I bemoaned that I was less emotionally
intelligent, but was hoping to improve that having just found out they
offer some testing/coaching at work and mumbled something about not
feeling able/knowing how to support May. At this point C suggested to
May that she tell me what she wanted – show her that it upset me too,
basically. Yes, it was moving and tears welled for me too. C asked me
why I didn’t and tried to explain how I felt it necessary to be
‘strong’ for May (and I think I noticed May giving me stern looks at
this point) – if I was upset too then two emotional people wouldn’t
make a right one and anyway I have difficulty dealing with strong
emotions. This tied in with a discussion about compartmentalising, but
this is a typical bloke thing says C – is this validation I see before
me, I doubt it somehow.

Also May’s family was raised, obviously as you’ll know from previous
posts their reactions and behaviour have left much to be desired,
again C was very sympathetic.

So, that’s my typical blokeish summary of the session – how did I feel
about it? I don’t really know. I was pleased to come away with two
solid ideas to work on (more would have been too much and less not
good value) – being strong does not necessarily equate with not being
upset (and vice versa), and the commemoration object idea. I certainly
can almost visualise the sort of thing I’d like, luckily May agrees
but we haven’t found anything suitable yet.

Session 2:
Having had a really tough day at work – stuck in a stuffy meeting room
for nearly seven hours solid (yes, there were comfort breaks and it
wasn’t a single meeting – don’t worry, I’m not being tortured at work,
although it can feel close sometimes) I didn’t really have much to
say. So this ended up being a May session really – talking about how
to tell and hide these issues from managers and colleagues
respectively at work.

I don’t feel it’s appropriate for me to spill out May’s feelings and
emotions that complicate this issue, so this summary is going to be
short. Suffice to say there may be a way I can help by assisting in
writing a formal email, which was a bonus.

Frustratingly, the issue of anger (how May feels it, but cannot freely
express it, and (because of) my uncomfortableness at dealing/coping
with it) only came up right at the end of the session. So, that might
mean a session for me to explain my familial/upbringing issues and
experiences around strong emotions and anger in the near future.

Overall, I still feel I got quite a lot out of the session. I was able
to listen to May convey her feelings across in a neutral way without
either of us getting distracted or changing the subject too quickly (a
bad habit of mine).


7 responses to “This being what H thought of counselling.

  • Nina

    But did H read what May posted? That’s the big question!

  • womb for improvement

    You had me at couns – selling

  • Helen

    All I want to say to this is: Bravery. You haz it.

    Well done for going, and well done for writing about it. I think it’s important and probably helps the both of you.

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    I think there has been some type-formatting lost here!

    May has spoken before about the responsibility she felt in being, as she saw it, Pikaia’s chief mourner. It’s natural to want your spouse to be singing from the same emotional hymn-sheet over any big event in your married life, especially an event invested with such hope, and subsequent trauma as Pikaia’s advent. But that knocks squarely up against YOUR need NOT to mentally linger on a subject that makes you feel so uncomfortable with yourself.

    I actually consider you an unusually (other members of the male race, forgive my impertinence), articulate and emotionally intelligent chap who actually appears to have (and most importantly, TRIES to have) a better understanding of his wife’s psyche than most. I feel the fact that you badly want to give the right type of support to May is more important in the long run than whether your emotional profile and hers are perfectly synchromeshed over these issues at this point in time.

    Getting to a place where all the things that Pikaia meant to the two of you, as well as your feelings over your ongoing fertlity treatment, are understood, processed and at peace between you – might take some considerable time. Your Counsellor will doubtless tell you that it’s important to come to terms with what has been, before moving on to what might yet be. Personally, I never came to terms. I just kept going blindly forward, knowing that John wasn’t too far behind.

    John was fairly mortified with himself for shedding a few tears when I first miscarried; and for crying when he thought that Harry might have died. I asked him what sort of a man he would be if he couldn’t cry about his son? Well, I now cry at the memory of him crying. And he? Can’t really even remember his own pain. Harry didn’t die, and it was all OK in the end. So John briskly moved on… and that does irk me a little. But I know well how he is emotionally constructed – robustly – and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t find that emotional lack-of-dependence on me quite reassuring and attractive. Although – if I was still lost in a tearing grief of my own, who’s to say whether his lack of accessibility would aggravate me madly?

    I’m interested to see how the anger issue works through for you next session.

  • H

    Thanks for your comments 🙂

    @Nina – no, I didn’t get to read May’s before she posted it – have since, of course.

    @Helen – not sure whether it’s bravery or fear of consequences of not doing it 😉

    @HFF – thanks for your support and wise words. I’m not ‘afraid’ of shedding tears as such. I think for me it’s more about maintaining control. I don’t really understand what emotions I feel most of the time and certainly I have been known to complain for days about head/jaw/tummy ache for days without realising it might be because I’m a bit stressed! So, to let go and allow an emotion to have that much concious influence/power scares me shitless – how on earth would I regain composure/control over myself? Because I’m a stranger to emotions they are a stranger to me – I don’t trust them to behave and therefore cannot let them rule. Obviously, I have over recent years (thanks May) realised they rule anyway, so it’s better to do it consciously rather than unconsciously. It’s a very difficult transition to make, I think/I’m finding, and if I’m honest I’d rather not be conscious about them as then I’d have to admit to them and be responsible for them etc. Eeeek!

  • Xbox4NappyRash

    I read these last Wednesday night but didn’t fancy being the first commenter.

    I think ye’ve done a good job here. It’s so very hard to be 100% open with someone when you’re both under strain, but it’s really the only way through it.

    Both accounts are very similar, which I’d take as encouraging.

    Well done.

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