Archive for August, 2009

The People Whisperer

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Never miss an opportunity to heal yourself, no matter who it comes from.

Last week I started a new job and came face to face with someone I used to work with whom I had an overwhelming number of unresolved workplace issues. Immediately I was caught up in the fight or flight response and wanted to run out of that building screaming. Only when this happens to me I freeze like a deer caught in the headlights or am transfixed by the menacingly collective beady, narrowed, yellow eyes of a pack of hungry lions. I get so frightened I cannot think or move to save my life. I had run into an old nemesis for whom I had so many revenge fantasies it consumed a greater part of my life.

This woman was number one on my hit list of enemies I needed to self-destruct upon.

I stayed in this new job for a few days and got so engrossed in frantically working as hard as I could and hiding from this woman so much so that it was noticed I was not interacting with the rest of the girls. But they knew her and liked her and so they were the enemy, right?

On the way to work, I would pick off a small stem of white fragrantly scented flowers from a random garden and place it on my desk. It was my guardian angel protecting me against any evil spirits.

My therapist created an emergency appointment for me. I instinctively knew it was going to one of the hardest I ever had to face. I called her a people whisperer once because she has this uncanny natural ability to make me face my inner demons at the right time, in the right place, at the right moment and in the right manner – and with the right amount of compassion and understanding. With her more regressed clients she intertwines her personality with specific techniques.

She rattled my cage as gently as she possibly could and took me back …

A Moral Dilemma

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

I have a real job. I’m now a medical typist at a major Western Australian hospital. I thought I had landed the job of my dreams with high pay and good working conditions. It had a really good feel about it. Until I looked at the list of other typists I will be working with.

One of the girls who works there and is currently on annual leave till Monday is someone I worked with in a previous job three years ago. This woman and I were good friends because she has a degree in counselling and I was studying psychotherapy. We would stop after work and talk about our favourite subject, helping people, psychology and how the world works. I thought I had found a great friend with similar interests. I had no inkling of what was actually happening at the same time in a parallel universe.

One day without warning, I was called into the manager’s office. This woman had written an email to management stating I had threatened to kill her and resigned, effective immediately. She did the maximum amount of damage she could before disappearing in the ether. During the three months we worked together she was, to my face, a good friend, but behind my back she was spreading gossip and rumours. There was no way for me to predict this. There were no hints or suggestions of her two-faces. I had no idea.

I think, although I am not sure, because no-one actually told me any details, that the death threat was when I said in a laughing voice, “We work in such an enclosed space, sometimes I feel like killing you and so and so and I’m sure you feel like killing me sometimes as well.” Innocent things we have all said at one time or another. Management took this off the cuff remark very seriously and questioned me at length. I was very scared because this sort of stuff can end up in a tangle of litigation.

My therapist said she is a bully, …

Post Therapy Autopsy – Afterglow or Aftermath?

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Every time I leave the therapy session, I can never get a really true sense of how it actually went till I have spent at least the rest of the day, and sometimes the next, analyzing all the spoken words, visualizing the facial expressions, exploring the subtle nuances of tone and cadence and reliving the shared, attentive, attuned and mirrored body language or the complete lack of it.

While my therapist, bless her legal notepad and poised pen, goes onto her next client, effectively and professionally “forgetting” about me, I am left in a visceral twilight zone of mixed feelings, conflicting emotions, sweaty palms, tense muscles, shaking body and heightened senses with a dual conflicting head-space so intense the lack of concentration could cause a traffic accident. Sometimes I bask in the afterglow of a loving/kindness, merged warm euphoric connection and sometimes I’m stuck in the aftermath of futile envy, hostile resentment and impotent rage.

Luckily the latter doesn’t happen nearly as much as the former. One thing I have learned over the years is to own my own feelings. Therapy isn’t a walk in the park on a sunny day, it’s a hike up a steep hill or a climb up a snow covered mountain dodging all the obstacles of suppression, resistance, hiding, underplaying and even lying along the way.

The former is a blessing. It’s true attunement, connection, strength of character and progression. Your therapist is there to learn about you so she can support you. The more knowledge she has the more able she is to do her job well. I’ve felt every emotion under the sun with her but I’ve never felt judged or invalidated even when I spend weeks hiding the truth from her. If I end up feeling a bitter fury towards her, I take responsibility for it. My behaviour and feelings are self-induced and are not about her. Luckily she is authentic and well-balanced enough to know this.

There is always an underlying situation I am not addressing that is the cause. So when I walk out her door and want …

I Defend to Death my Right to Self-Destruct

Monday, August 17th, 2009

I went to see my therapist today.

After about fifteen minutes of settling in and seeing where my head was at, she pushed me back into the couch, pinned me down with grim determination and a steely glare from her icy blue eyes and said, “Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.”

At first I thought she was talking about me as I have gained a considerable amount of weight recently. But she was talking not about my appearance, but about my health issues which include the trifecta of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. If the Perfect Storm killed George Clooney, then my own personal Perfect Storm will kill me as well.

I’ve lived by the maxim that “I defend to death my right to self-destruct”, but my therapist has a whole lot of other ideas and is reading off a completely different instruction manual. “Ve haf vays of making you healthy,” is her new motto for me and surprisingly enough I am finally receptive to her authoritative stance.

It upsets her that my health is not good, but she is not judgmental, sneering, condescending, disdainful or coming from a position of moral superiority and dispending wisdom from the safety of the clouds where the normal Gods reside, she is down there getting her hands dirty in the front-line trenches with me.

Ok, so the opening paragraph may have been slightly exaggerated, but I am a creative writer after all, and I now have to be very creative in getting my body back into shape and wellness.

My children have grasped the health and wellness issue in spite of their mother being addicted to food, alcohol and cigarettes. They, along with my therapist and husband, are dragging me kicking and screaming towards a healthy approach to life, the Universe and everything else. Along with my little dog who, due to lack of exercise has grown some very long nails, hidden by her long coat which recently got shorn and showed me, in such a visceral manner, just how much my health issues were pulling her down as well.

I immediately took her to the …

My Mother, My Therapist

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

All my life I’ve wanted the perfect mother. Someone who has lots of time for me, understands my dilemmas, agrees with my viewpoints and is always there for me, warm and nurturing at all times. Then along came Coraline the Movie. Coraline, deeply neglected by her real parents, finds a wormhole in her new house, enters it and discovers the perfect parents in the shape of her other mother and her other father.

I also discovered my other mother, my perfect mother, through the gateway into the parallel universe also known as my therapist’s office, only she doesn’t call it a wormhole, she calls it a door.

She’s the one who nurtures me and keeps me warm and gives me the impression that I’m wonderful and fabulous. It’s easy to get carried away by a reverie about someone who looks perfect, acts perfect, gives insightful advice, smiles a lot and gives the impression she has her life under control.

This isn’t to say therapists are not being authentic. They are genuine – and armed with their university degrees, post graduate courses, professional development, books they’ve read, supervisors who’ve supervised, had peer supervision and using the sharpest tool they have been blessed with, their own personality, give the very best therapy they can.

But even though their personality clicks with yours doesn’t mean that therapy is suddenly a breeze because when that hour is up, you are out there in the real world again. When the wind blows cold and the freezing rain and sleet is howling a blizzard around your ears, where the only place you want to be is under your therapist’s warm wings again, it’s easy to see them as the perfect mother, rather like Coraline does at the beginning of the movie when she meets her doppelganger parents.

Therapists have their own issues, dysfunctional family members, health issues, idiosyncratic friends, money worries, aging concerns, aggravating partners and husbands, existential crises and sometimes their own narcissistic, borderline mothers. And it’s through this veil of what’s known as counter-transference (transference – but from the therapist’s point of view, where they displace emotions …


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