[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.
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.
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).