This being what May thought of counselling.

[H’s version is here.]

The first visit to the counsellor, we talked about, well, the Story So Far (see ‘About‘ page, for those of you singing along), and when I got to Pikaia I bawled for about 30 minutes non-stop, frantic with embarrassment the entire time. All the Counsellor had to do, being a counsellor, and Wise in the Ways of the Wayward Psyche, was point out to me that I had been through a lot (gulp) and naturally I would still be grieving (gulp, sniff), and nobody could expect me to be over it already (wahhhhhhhhhhh!).

We soldiered on anyway, me blowing my nose on increasingly teeny dry patches of the increasingly soggy tissue. And we discussed the following:

H compartmentalises. Apparently, most men do this. Well, frankly, if I had wanted to marry most men I would have. And it irks me very much to realises that this is a good way of coping, in that H is not the one bawling his freaking eyes out in a complete stranger’s front room. Which is something I don’t really want to be doing. Except I am paying to do it. Where were we? I was talking about H. Who compartmentalises, whatever the fuck that means – well, what it does mean is that H can sit in a complete stranger’s front room and talk about miscarriage without bawling his eyes out.

We’ve discussed my somewhat unimpressed reaction to the ‘being strong for you’ theory briefly on this blog. We have not discussed it with the Counsellor (let’s call her C. H is calling her C and I am all about the consistency here) but I think we should. For either I am egregiously wrong, and men are Supposed to Be Strong by ignoring every single person in the Universe’s feelings including their own, and most people really do find it helpful to share a home with an automaton, or I am egregiously right, and H is being a moral coward and dressing it up as ‘staying strong’ as that sounds so much nicer than ‘wimping out’.  Christ, I sound like a bitch. Heigh ho.

Anyway, H can too bawl. He cried when he saw I had written Pikaia’s name out in full with his surname on her little boat.

While we’re on the subject, I was an idiot to think that the Thing With The Paper Boats, no matter how beautiful it was, would somehow be, or ought to be, the end of the grieving process, but I did. C suggested we get something permanent we could both remember Pikaia by, and H leapt at the idea – and has since been talking enthusiastically about finding an ornament that would be just right (for example, not a rock, no matter how pretty the semi-precious stones in the Natural History Museum shop are. And something small enough to hold). So when I say leapt, I also mean took a firm grip on, and Means It.

And I sat there with my mouth hanging open. I had felt, I had, in fact, put myself, under pressure to Get The Fuck Over It Already, especially after the due date. None of it was coming from H, after all, despite his Strong Silence and ability to say ‘miscarriage’ without tearing up. He wanted, badly wanted, to keep hold of Pikaia, and remember her too, and I had not known this. I simply had not known this. (Oh, bugger, I’m starting to cry again. Excuse me one moment).

I did not cry the second time we visited the Counsellor. Go me! I thought, as I gulped water frantically and thought about daffodils. So brave! Doing my damndest not to cry again, and trying to, be, like, all cool and humorous about it, and like, totally not fazed, dude.

I am an Idiot.

This time, we discussed my issues with telling work, and not wanting work persons to know a damn thing about it, which will be unavoidable if I’m forever sloping off to be prodded and stuck, and also being a leeeetle skeeved at the idea of cheerfully lying my head off at work under the banner of None Of Their Fucking Business. I did not say ‘fuck’ in C’s office. I am well-brought-up. C suggested ways in which H could help me come up with pre-planned excuses for the nosy bastids, and a calm professional way to keep my line managers informed, as I am freaking just a tad out about both. H seemed to like this idea. I was bewildered by H liking this idea. H wants to help? Really? But, but, he’s been Being Strong, which as we know involves Not Saying Anything.

And then we naturally had to discuss why I hated the very idea of telling work that I needed the time off, which lead to a discussion of my feelings of guilt and shame over being ill or needy (yeah yeah yeah, I’m warped by careless parenting, I know), which lead to a (mercifully brief) discussion of my slightly fucked up relationship with my mother, she who spent my childhood telling me off for being a hypochondriac and faking illness to get out of things and making her life difficult and so on, during which I badly wanted to curl up into a pretzel and roll unobtrusively out of the room and into the dark deserted street. Yes, I know that sounds fucked up. It is fucked up. I am fucked up.

By this time I was getting slightly twitchy that we were spending the entire hour talking about me mememememe ME. H had disclaimed all responsibility for the evening as he’d had a shite day at work and couldn’t think of a single thing to say, but I still felt I was hogging the limelight rather.

And then we discussed anger, in that I don’t seem to be expressing any. I am quite sure H would have had quite a lot to say on that score if he hadn’t been being so polite and H-ish, so I did hasten to mention I snapped at him. So we had to discuss why I feel such a strong need to be scrupulously fair and consider all sides to all stories. At this point H butted in and proved he has absolutely been listening all these years and volunteered that it was to do with my father. So I had to explain that I had been my Daddy’s favourite for years, and how utterly shitty this had been for my sister Trouble, and how it had screwed our relationship up, and there I went, empathising with Trouble and explaining it all from her point of view, which rather made H’s point.

The anger thing is going to be a Big Issue. In that I am so angry about the infertility and loss thing that I think I could chew through a concrete wall, but cannot express it. In that H is extremely uncomfortable with anger, even when it’s not being expressed at him. In that there are rages within me I daren’t tell him about, in case he despises me for them. I think I shall force H to talk about that next time.

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5 responses to “This being what May thought of counselling.

  • This being what H thought of counselling. « Nuts in May

    […] March 4, 2009 Filed under: I must empty my head now, There is a husband — May @ 10:58 pm [May’s version is here. May also promises she did not even read H’s version before she posted […]

  • Artblog

    Damn, I swear to god we could be married to the same man!!!

    I’d go with “dressing it up as ’staying strong”. They care, he showed that. In my husbands case, he was brought up to suppress his feelings, any problems his family had were brushed under the carpet so as not to disturb the gentle flow of their tranquil lives!

    As you can imagine, I was not brought up that way, quite the opposite in fact that equal fireworks between us, clearly!

    I’d say you’re the same as me.

    And honey, you know, I’m still so angry I could chew through that concrete wall with you next time you have the urge.

    It doesn’t just go away, somehow, you have to learn to cope with the anger. Not easy, but that’s what your Ms C. is for, so keep going but please don’t be acting all cool, cry if you need to. It IS the better way, I promise 🙂

    HUGS XXX

    P.S. If you wanna bitch more, email me. I swear we have the same husband!

  • womb for improvement

    It sounds like you had a lots to get out, and good to be said in the neutral place. Am very impressed that H agreed to share – and your accounts didn’t differ too much (other than H is clearly too much of a gentleman to talk mention the bawling eyes out for 30 mins). I hope it starts to help.

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    It took me years – literally, years – for Counsellor to persuade me that crying was, you know, allowed. Why on earth wasn’t I allowing myself to cry over my lost child? What was shameful about showing my grief?

    Don’t be embarrassed. Forget that you’re British. It’s completely and utterly ok to get that lower lip quivering.

    I’m in full agreement about the ornament – it has to be something that speaks to both of you. I have this photo in our bedroom still, to remind me of previous sadnesses. http://www.flickr.com/photos/25892496@N06/3331665190/
    Funny you should say about not wanting rocks – I had once considered having my 3 due dates put onto one of these http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/letterfest/product/date_stone_doublesided – but the reality is that I stopped trying to remember the dates. And now I can’t.

    The anger will be a tricky one to deal with, I’m sure. But I’m sure you’ve been together long enough not to feel desperately insecure and alarmed if the other one displays an emotion that isn’t run-of-the-mill for you. You’ll know each other a little better by the end of this process, by the sound of it.

  • Helen

    Screw trying to be brave. I too have something to remember my lost ones by – http://www.flickr.com/photos/everydaystranger/379427042/in/set-72157594305516119/ . I had two miscarriages as well, and that whole “trying to be brave” thing is crap when people tell you to do it. Just be you. At some point you’ll be better, even if you may never tuly get over it.

    And be wary of The Anger, darling. The Anger, it can eat you, it can own you. Talk about it with H, talk about it with the counsellor, but get it out of you (says one who still battles with The Anger.)

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