Archive for the ‘therapy’ Category

Been thinking about Mondays.

January 22, 2010

I used to spend Monday nights counselling in an amazing place – the first place I ever worked with adults and liked it, actually. I would walk there from our home, a ten minute walk along tree lined streets, and when I walked through the door I was among friends. Everyone was gay, so the thing that happened at other agencies didn’t happen here. In other agencies, I was always referred the gay clients.

Not sure why. Much like some of my colleagues in others jobs were almost mythically scared of counselling – ‘I’m not a counsellor, I can’t talk about those sorts of things with people, I don’t want to open a can of worms’ – people in these other agencies must have thought I had gay superpowers. It’s odd, the assumption that just because a person is gay that must be why they are in therapy. My clients at these other places wanted to talk about depression, losing a baby, their experiences in combat.

The reverse happened on Monday nights. Because everyone was gay, I was often referred clients with mental health issues. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like mental health as much as…well, as much as me, but sometimes it’s nice to say, ‘No, thanks. I have too many clients with too many needs. I need a few people who are a little less complex.’

On those nights I sat among friends, three other counsellors and the night administrator. We talked about our training, played with a kitten that always managed to sneak into the building, struggled over notes, drank a lot of half-cold tea. My clients came, one by one, and I would go into the waiting room to get them. I always filled up with water, we climbed the stairs, I shut the door behind us and we settled in to work.

The people were astonishing in their bravery, in their terror, in their confusion and joy and hope. In their despair. I would listen to one person speak of their absolute certainty they had HIV, yet still fell to their knees every weekend in dark alleys, pleasuring strangers. I heard about the preparations someone else was making for the end of the world, for disasters right around the corner. I nodded along as people talked about starting relationships, ending relationships, wanting to lose their virginity, wanting to lose themselves in the perfect oblivion of happiness that they were sure a forever-relationship would give.

I would walk down the stairs, back to my colleagues, and we would share ten minutes together before the next set of clients walked up the path. We ate biscuits, flirted with each other (oh, how I miss my gay boyfriend!), processed difficult sessions in huddled two or three minute support sessions. Then the next client would appear. And the next.

The room I worked in had tapestries hanging on the walls, comfortable padded chairs that rocked gently, a window that never totally shut, a skylight that made any rain sound like gunshots. It had puppets and clay and toys in the corner, for during the days it was used during family therapy.

In that room, one person spread out cards on the ground, as we made a storyline of her life, her dreams, her what-nexts. Another borrowed a puzzle, each piece an animal, and we talked about who she was, who her sister was, her mother. Another brought his own lists into the room, driven to meet each point and subpoint, to achieve everything in five minutes or feel doomed as a failure. One clutched a pillow to her stomach every session, as if she was protecting her insides the only way she knew how.

In that room, I supported people changing gender. I offered someone the genuine human contact their psychiatrist seemed unable to. I accepted a painting a client did, with obscure figures representing our relationship; it was beautiful.

Every other week on Thursday afternoons, I would appear in that room again. There I shared my work with others, we discussed people – not cases, I admitted that sometimes I needed a break and I learned how to ask for one. We used glitter, we made cards for those leaving, we welcomed those who joined in. Our group eventually settled on three counsellors and a supervisor, women joined together in their curiosity about themselves and other people.

I miss that room, those people. I wonder how my past clients are doing, and have to feel that most of them are still on their path to growing up, growing out, developing. I miss the feel of Monday nights, as the warmth and belonging wrapped around me. I miss the way it was to deepen my practice as a counsellor, to realise that yes, I was good working with adults, I liked working with adults, I might actually consider working with adults again. I miss the faces – those that were tear stained, those that were angry and blaming, those that were looking to me to fill something they were having trouble filling in themselves.

I miss the wobbles and the uncertainties, the what-the-fuck-do-I-say-now moments, the comfort and belief that I didn’t need to have all the answers, because the people sitting not-quite-across from me usually did.

It was nice.

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Thinking in black and white, about gray issues.

October 15, 2009

I’ve written about my father many, many times. Maybe not in this blog, but certainly in the two I kept before transferring over here. We’re talking thirteen years of blogging that has involved him every now and then – a lucky number?

I am not close to him. I don’t think judging people by labels is a good way to go through life, but sometimes a label can be shorthand for a lot of things.  With regards to my father, for instance, ‘borderline personality disorder’ could mean: inability to commit to my mother, yet a desperate fear of her leaving him. It could also mean: lack of empathy, related alcoholism, self-destructive behaviour.

Other labels my father wore? Abuser, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression. And thanks to what I learned this past week, I can safely add an educated guess that psychotic breaks might also be in the mix.

Of course, there are lots of other labels I can add to his description – many positive, but many more negative.

I knew my dad cheated on my mom. Extensively. At one point when I was a child, he moved in with another woman. Years later, I caught him cheating, and it was this episode that led my mother to kick him out.  I also knew he pushed/hit my mom on occasion. I knew he yelled at her a lot. In the years since, my mother has oddly told TMD a few things I didn’t know. These include reactions to stress that people without knowledge of PTSD would consider bizarre. And, well, they are bizarre – but not without reason.

I do not judge people with these or other disorders (I do not count domestic violence as a disorder, just to clarify. I’m talking about the mental health stuff); as a counsellor, I have always been the one who gets the high end mental health referrals. In part this is because of my extensive experience in this area – but I have to wonder, what made me unafraid to accept the first referrals and roles that would lead me to become well qualified beyond my years in various mental health issues? I think it is because my ‘antenna’ are defined by how I grew up. Stories of abuse – from either perspective – tend to not shock me because of what I have been through. I’m not sure if this makes me a better or worse counsellor, but it does make me unafraid to work with people who are dealing with some pretty serious shit.

I’ve worked with people who have tried to kill themselves, with people who were actively considering suicide, with people who had a wide variety of pervasive and life-controlling illnesses. I’ve worked with people who self-harm, with victims of severe abuse, with people full of self-hate.

I learn more every year about how my experiences as a person shape me as a therapist, but this past week has made me question how my experiences as a therapist shape me as a person. This has always been something I’ve thought about, but now it seems to be a focused question around issues of domestic violence, abuse, etc.

If I worked with a woman who was married for over twenty years to someone who was manipulative, unfaithful, controlling, cruel, violent, alcoholic – why, if that woman managed to find the strength to leave that man, I would give her a million hoorahs. And if she also happened to raise two strong, independent girls, to find a new love and secure marriage with someone else, all the better.

This week I found out that my father hit my mother in the stomach when she was pregnant. She doesn’t remember if she was pregnant with my sister or with me.

I don’t know if this entry is about him, her, or me.

I do know that during pregnancy, my father began to email me. He wanted to be kept up to date with the babies, with scans, with everything. This is after a spell of virtually not talking for a fair few number of years, though about five years ago I decided I had to radically lower my expectations if I was to have a life where he could ‘participate’ (read: two phone calls a year) without hurting me deeply. It seemed the sanest and safest way to protect myself.

My father was not invited to our wedding. My father has never come to visit me since I moved to this country. I have felt vindicated, guilty, worried, and pissed off about these things.

Now that I have learned a bit more about their marriage, I am horrified yet again.

As a therapist and as a human, I do believe people can change. I’m not saying everyone does, but sure, it’s there. Potential. I’ve noticed with a clinical eye the lessening of my father’s symptoms as he ages (typical of BPD), but also aware that I can’t accurately assess anything because a) I don’t see him ever and b) I am his daughter.

But he hit her. While she was pregnant. In the stomach.

And she didn’t go to the hospital to get checked out because she was embarassed. I am appalled at my reaction towards her when she said that, ten percent of it voiced, the other ninety echoing in my mind. Embarassed?!?

I feel an especial horror at the idea that abuse, for me or for my sister, began while we were in the womb. I am all wrapped up in judgements and feelings and confusion, like I sometimes might be as a therapist, but the difference is that I cannot step out of this quite so neatly at the end of fifty minute sessions. But like I do when I am troubled – or delighted, or anything else – by a client session, I turn to writing as a way to figure it out.

This time I have not come to any neat, tidy conclusions, nor do I have an experienced and thoughtful supervisor to pepper me with questions and knowledge.

I know that all of these things revolve around one simple question: Do I want to maintain contant with a man who did that to my mother? Hitting someone is never okay, though as a child I didn’t realise that because it was my norm. People hit people they loved. Now that I have Coconut and Snort, and they are so innocent, I wonder how anyone could behave that way.

In the stomach.

When she was pregnant.

Remembering myself.

October 7, 2009

I have ridden an elephant,
visited over 15 countries,
learned how to do double
inside out braids on myself.

I have learned and forgotten
how to be semi-fluent in
talking with my hands, my face,
my body.
I loved signing.

I cannot do cartwheels,
I have fantastic boobs,
I am happiest when writing.
(Snuggling babies excluded.)

I have had sex with more
men than women.
I’ve had a shaved head,
and pink hair, and purple hair.
I do not shave my lady garden
hair – to each their own, but
I think it makes women
look like little girls.

I always always always
grow my hair long and then
chop it off. I’m never totally
happy either way.

I grew up on the border of
two big countries
and now live
in one
small
country.

I have one sister. I have
four step-brothers, and one
common law step-brother. I
am older than all of them.

I have been a library assistant,
a lifeguard,
a nanny,
a teacher,
a bag girl. And other things.

I am always looking for
The Next Big Thing
to hold in my hands and
make me happy.

I met my wife in 1998. I knew
she was special from that
first day, but didn’t realize
how special.

We have signed partnership registers,
we have married ourselves,
we have legally tied the knot. Nothing
was quite so special
as drawing rings on ourselves
from pen, and taking arms length
pictures of us, smiling and naked
and happy.

I grew up with a father with
a
very serious
mental illness.

I wear glasses, and I
love them. My left ear has four
empty holes, my right has
one. My feet appear to have
enlarged during pregnancy;
an un-handy thing in a country
of people
with freakishly small feet.

I love bags. I LOVE camping.
I miss the camp I used
to work at,
but don’t have the energy
to imagine going back.

I can pray before meals
in Spanish, but I don’t pray.

I know an awful lot about
sex and sexuality
and those sorts of things.
Both personally and professionally.

I like play therapy.
(Doing it, I mean, though
I suspect I would like
being in this form
of therapy
myself.)

I’ve been in therapy.
I have trained as a therapist.
I LOVE it, from either
perspective.

I always felt like the fat
kid growing up, but when
I look at pictures of my childhood
self I want to reach in
and say,
‘You’re beautiful.’

I am an excellent swimmer.
I love bookshelves.
I like garish colour combinations,
and I also like plain old
ordinary lookin’ good shit.

I blog, I twitter, I fritter
away time
quite effortlessly.

I really really like Shel Silverstein
poems and books. I have a
few postgraduate degrees.
I’ll probably get more.

I worry about things a lot.
I used to be terrified of death,
and to be honest,
I’m not a big fan now. (Who is?)

My grandmother, Coconut’s namesake,
died in 2005
and it’s funny how the world,
like plastic,
has rebounded.
Most of the time.
Other times, I feel bruised and
sore and
disbelieving.

I have not kept in touch with
people from high school. (I do not
count facebook as ‘being in touch.’)

I am tall, I am carrying baby weight,
nothing seems to fit me.

I like exploring new cities,
I like walking in new forests,
I want to hike the Appalachin Trail
sometime (soon).

I love Stephen King’s writing,
I need to listen to music when I am
walk-communting for work,
I have two gorgeous babies
who just happen
to be twins.

I took ski lessons as a child. I like
rollerskating a LOT and ‘taught’
TMD. She doesn’t like it.

I read: horror novels,
classics, literary books,
therapy magazines, romances,
children’s books. I LOVE
DYSTOPIAN FICTION, particularly
those written for teens.

I lurk on the borders,
I hog the spotlight,
people seem to like me.

I’ve had a license for 15 years
yet am not allowed
to drive without supervision.
I’ve never had a ticket.

I don’t cook. I like to eat.
I love the world of academia,
I like the smell of university libraries.
I like experiential learning, too.
I am a geek.

I get pissed when I lose at
board games,
I am most upset when I am
inauthentic,
perhaps by not speaking up
when I should.

I love waterslides. I am
sometimes deeply annoyed
by people from
the country where I grew up.
God, the accent(s).

I am me, me, me, even
though I am now
Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.
(Or will be ‘Mama’ in about ten
months, all going well.)

The truth.

October 2, 2009

Thank you to all who responded yesterday. It is always a pleasure when people reach out to help me, particularly as I have never been one to say when I needed help – at least prior to my training as a counsellor/therapist, anyway. That changes things, or at least it changed me.

I think one of the problems is that I have been treating Coconut and Snort as singletons, at least in relation to eating. But it is inescapable that they are not singletons. It’s interesting to talk to moms of singletons versus moms of twins. Twim moms talk about crying a lot whilst both babies are crying – who do you go to? How do you prioritise? Twin moms also talk about all the different things they have tried – different routines, different feeding techniques – all the ways they have fumbled along before time or ‘routine’ was a success. Singleton moms don’t have the same need for routine.

Let’s say it takes Snort, on a good feed, about twenty minutes to have his bottle. Then ten minutes of burping or whatever. That’s right quick, indeed, but sometimes he manages it. So then he’s awake for awhile. But Coconut and her snacking (think I have it figured out – she is part vampire. She is ‘snacking’ during the day as he does at night, when he doesn’t need as much to eat. We need to keep her AWAKE during the day, for god’s sake.) – it could take her 20 minutes to eat a little bit. An hour later and she needs another 40 minutes or so.

When you look at my ‘schedule’ as a whole, I am feeding one baby for about an hour. There may be a slight overlap of sleep or play time, say ten minutes (like right now!). Then the cycle starts again with the other one. This is what comes of being baby-led. I’m not saying I want to turn into a drill sergeant, but in some ways we HAVE. Going out? We have bags packed, bottles ready, feeding sorted as best we can. If hell breaks loose when we are out, TMD and I have ways to immediately manage (of course, this would be different should I be alone).

The thing is, the one adult to two newborns ratio has some inherent problems, and it’s going to take me some time to sort it all out. The mini goal for today (though it is probably quite a challenge) is to get them used to going flat on their backs after eating, instead of passing out in their bouncy chairs. Snort in particular will resist this. I am scared of it with Coconut, because DAMN can she vomit – and being tilted helps. That being said, I have thrown her on a pillow on the ground, and she is merrily kicking away. No vomit to be seen.

I feel there was a lot more I wanted to say. To vent, to figure out, to explain to other people.

It’s nice to read that other twin moms find it really hard. There are also some who choose to take the hardness, and use to to help those that follow. It is a community unlike others, though ‘mom communities’ seem to me to be more welcoming, inclusive, and understanding than many I’ve belonged to. Twin moms just have the added level of knowing how fucked up it sometimes gets.

Me? I think I am a person dedicated to herself. Suddenly having snatches of time here and there for me, which I devote to updating this blog and keeping my sanity, is something I am unaccustomed to. As is working this fucking hard. My GOD, is it hard. Even as I am admiring Coconut’s stunning eyelashes, a small part of me is glancing at my chart to see when Snort is due to wake up. It’s like a constant little ball of dread, of oh fuck, of ‘I just need a break. Please.’

My life will never be the same again. I think I am only just starting to comprehend what that means on a very basic level. I think the tears rolling down my cheeks for about 3 hours straight yesterday were due to this being the first week on my own – and yesterday was the first day without any visitors. My SPD is still bad. Really bad. I have not properly slept in the seven weeks since they were born. I am also not one who does well emotionally when she is stuck at home; I know this about myself from long before I was even pregnant.

Crap. Snort waking up. Coconut doing some intermittant crying. Hope she settles soon on that blasted pillow. Need to go feed him. I am not done with this entry, not by half. But will post it now as not sure when I’ll get another chance. And if I post now, maybe I will get comments now?

I am lonely.

October is my favourite month, autumn my favourite time of year.

October 1, 2009

I sent Kleinette (my ex-therapist) a birth announcement. She immediately sent a card and gift special delivery – two pairs of gorgeous, knitted, fleecy slippers for the babies this winter. The card was lovely, announcing that she whooped and danced around the kitchen table when she found out we had twins. Kleinette heard a lot about my desire for children, and I thought it fitting she knew that the world was now richer by two gorgeous individuals.

The things I repeatedly said I wanted to achieve in therapy are happening. One major complaint was about Day Job; jesus, Kleinette must’ve wanted to shoot herself every time I mentioned it. Now I am well out of Day Job and in love with Operation Fingerpaint (though probably planning on not returning when my year’s maternity leave is up). I wanted to work as a therapist for a small, warm hearted charity with a close knit staff team – you couldn’t more perfectly describe O.P.

I wanted to move out of the city. In a pathetic way, the walk along the tiny lane to the street leading to her house was rejuvinating if only because it was 20 seconds away from the endless traffic. I loved (still do) that city; living in one of the world’s largest and most diverse cities is an experience. But, fuck, give me some trees. I know it is a marvellously attempting-to-be-green city, a city of old architecture, a city with weird little alleys and roads with nothing but used bookstores. Delightful. But not for me, not for living in. And now? We bought this wonderful home outside of the city. We’re surrounded by green. Our ‘city centre’ fits in the palm of my hand, and that’s just about perfect.

I wanted children. TMD and I were constantly engaged in a debate about when ‘the right time’ would be. Apparently, that’s now. From being filled with envy and sadness every time I saw a pregnant woman’s belly, I now have two luscious babies I can dance with, kiss, and sniff to see if they have pooped.

I wanted to get published, in a bigger way than I’ve been published before. This is (always) the final thing, the final goal. If I can do all these other things – AMAZING myself – then why not this?

It was nice to hear from Kleinette again. She is like a constant cheerleader who you know wishes you well, whether you ever speak to her again or not. What a gift. I hope I have given that to some of the children, young people, and adults I have worked with. I can see most of them very clearly in my mind. On this sunniest of sunny mornings, I send them all a little piece of goodwill.

6 weeks 4 days after giving birth, an update.

September 26, 2009

Today is day one of Gina Ford’s twins routine – TMD’s baby for the day is Snort, and I’ve got Coconut. Tomorrow we swap. The idea is that we follow the routine, but it’s more gentle for the babies because the one who is waiting has someone there to soothe him/her. Don’t know how we’ll get on with this routine, but are going to do it the whole weekend. I really, really wish Mil wasn’t going to be here today.

I’m reading a Winnicot book (perhaps all my counselling training shall soon rear its ugly head in regards to the psychological development of babies), and it is making me more and more ready for her to be gone! We are not going to let her feed today, because it takes her upwards of an hour (or more) per baby, what with the copious and mental winding.

The other thing I’ve done this morning (as TMD is shhing and soothing away in the bedroom, convincing the babies that yes, we really do think they should have a snooze) is dig out my old Weight Watchers book. I did the little quiz to see how many points per day I should be eating. I’m not saying I’m going weight-crazy or anything, but I am thinking about how to make sure I am eating enough of the right foods. Pregnancy and early parenthood have fucked with me. I also weighed myself, just out of curiousity.

I am exactly the same weight as I was when I started Weight Watchers a few years ago. For those of you newish to the blog, I lost about 60 pounds then. I find it odd (and exciting?) that I weigh the same now. Perhaps it is a good omen, and all things considered, I did pretty well considering it was twins! When I checked out of the hospital, I was 19 pounds lighter after giving birth. (I gained 50 pounds exactly during pregnancy….yes, from a higher weight than my final WW one. Shoot me.) I have also lost 5 pounds since coming home – probably due to the fact that I exist on cereal and diet coke.

I know a major part of my recovery is going to be fitness. Pilates is on the agenda – like I have time to pop in a DVD and exercise? I need to strengthen my core muscles to help my back and hips. My pelvis is still jackity wackity, and I DO NOT want to have surgery (though I will start asking questions if I reach 6 months post-partum and am still all broken). Bottom line: I need to be able to walk, so I can push the pram in case we need to go to the doctor’s or whatever. I may not be able to do a load of muscle exercises now, though I am dutifully doing what the physio has proscribed, but losing some weight would make it easier on my joints as well.

And let’s not forget my legs: after sevenish months of not walking, it has been difficult to move around the flat. My legs are finally feeling normal and like they can support my body, so yay!

Anyway.

Snort is now out of bed and in his bouncer in the nice, bright lounge. Oh, Gina.

Standing up for myself and my capacity to mother. (aka ‘Fuck your helpful suggestions, matey.’)

September 14, 2009

The past few days I have been getting increasingly nervous about whether I will be able to care for the babies myself. Including this week, I have three more weeks with Mil (a story in itself), and then a little over a week with my mom. Then it’s Existere City, all me, all the time. Even if I was well I think it would be a challenge, but I also think that after I got a few days under my belt, my confidence would grow and it would be fine.

But this blinking SPD. Had two mini-relapses this week. Have decided to basically say ‘fuck it’ – am still taking things easy, but planning to ask the physio tomorrow if pain is just pain, or if pain is indicative of something worse. I am turning into a career invalid, and I want to halt that in its tracks. For god’s sake, we went into town yesterday for about an hour, and I was in the wheelchair. (Only have that fucker till Oct 1 – a blessing and a curse to have a deadline.) After 60 minutes drinking caffeinated things, eating cake, and getting pushed around, I was so worn out you would have thought I’d been digging ditches all day.

Not cool.

My babies are wonderful, though. I think I have decided on blog pseudonyms, which is exciting. I do want to share their real names with longterm readers who are clearly not weirdo stalkers, but haven’t decided how to do so yet. Post a picture of them with their names and make it a private post? A mass email?

While I have never been a blogger who tries to get ‘fans’ or an ‘audience,’ and I also am not someone who finds it helpful to segregate different parts of my life into different journals, I can see the appeal in this one limited area. Were I not ‘out’ as a counsellor/therapist on this site – and possibly going to write about that again in future, assuming I ever do anything other than LOVE MY BABIES – I still am not keen on any identifying details being on here. A far cry from previous blogs, where I was like some sort of limelight exhibitionist hooker. (Incidentally, I’ll whore myself out. If you want to read my most recent old blog, leave a comment and I’ll give you the address and password. It’s good times.)

Anyway.

The whole point of this entry was to say that as of this morning I Am Ready. Yes, I am in pain. Yes, my back is clicking and clacking and generally I am as well put together as that dude from the game ‘Operation’ when he is missing his rubber band that holds some random joint of his in place.

But my Mil? Fucking hell.

I want to do this on my own. I want to be able to hold the babies when I want to hold them, give them some socialisation and entertainment (and constantly being told to just ‘let them lie – they are fine’ is GRATING on me). I am too nice to out and out defy her, but have just done so regarding when my own mother arrives. Mil wanted to stay to ‘give me a hand with the babies,’ and then leave when my mom appeared. No offense to Mil, but her ass would stick around and around because she loves talking. I see my mom once a year if I am lucky, for about a week, and I don’t want any interlopers.

Ungrateful Bitch, party of one, your table is ready for you.

Perhaps I need to be more forceful. Mil being around is making me feel all childlike and incompetent – and angry at myself for not being clear and straightforward about what I want for my children. But the fact remains that I am unable to properly care for them at the moment, and she is invaluable. With two adults here, they each get singleton cuddles and conversations – something I very much want for them.

I picked Mano up this morning and walked about ten steps with him, and my freakin’ c section went mental and blood shot out of my cootch. Just thought you would like to know.

So. Suggestions on giving you the babies’ real names (only if you promise to not share them in comments)?? Let rip. I also want to write about what happened last night, but really need to poop while I am alone in the house for this brief moment. And maybe gobble some Oreos if I have the time.

Finding my voice.

June 13, 2009

Let’s chronicle my writing near-misses, shall we?

I’ve had two personal referrals to big, big agents. From an author I adore.

I’ve had an Oscar and BAFTA award winner offer to read a manuscript to see if it could be transformed into film, with the added offer of introducing me to a few directors. Or just the opportunity for her to read it as a more informed, critical reader.

I did nothing about either of these options, or the other smaller ones I’ve had.

I say these things not to make myself feel miserable, but in a sort of gentle puzzlement. Three years of intensive counselling training and reflection could not help me, two years of therapy did not help me, thirty years of life have not helped me. Everyone has a theory on why I do not submit my books further than arm’s reach, particularly those smarty pants who are also counsellors.

I get great opportunities, I do not follow up on them. I have two and a half pretty okay/good books lying around somewhere – I don’t know where. Somewhere. And now I’ve had all this time off work – something I would have previously dreamed of.

I think the question is, do I not pursue this because I am lazy (or due to some other psychological neurosis), or because it is not what I want to do? I know I am the happiest when I am writing, and for right now, that’s enough. Maybe. I don’t know why I am thinking about this stuff again.

I do know this is not just confined to writing, but other opportunities as well. In the last twelve months I have been offered paid supervisory work, a position as the core tutor on a counselling course (abroad, no less!), and some random bits and pieces of counselling work. You’ll note none of these things are going on – although I think the only reason I made the decision not to do these was because we were going through IVF, and then pregnancy. So scratch the limiting myself thing – while fabulous chances do sometimes make me sweat, at least I feel I made an actual choice to turn these jobs down.

With writing, any choice is made by virtue of me simply not doing anything. Inaction is deadly.

Perhaps I am just ripening – (how long can I use that excuse for?)

Or maybe because I am not working as a counsellor while these babies brew, and being in sessions with clients made me feel as good as the worlds in my head do. You see how the excuses and justifications and explanations pile up? I am good at finding them, but nothing seems to unlock all the mysteries at the same time, no matter how good they sound.

I guess one bottom line could be (maybe, possibly, coulda shoulda woulda) the simple truth that nothing I write seems good enough, true enough, authentic enough. Perfect enough.

z18

Aussie’s (love) letter.

May 19, 2009

Some time back (we’re talking years!), I wrote close friends and asked them to tell me why they loved me. During a specialist training on working with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, it was suggested that it can be healing for people (and any person, I would suggest, not just those who were abused) to hear what makes them special to other people. It was said to only request friends to do this that were likely to respond, as otherwise it could end up being more hurtful than helpful. I have two gorgeous letters from Cookie and Chirp, which are still carefully tucked into a special envelope while I decide what to do with them.

A few days ago, I got this email from Aussie:

Hey,

I was thinking tonight about how I still haven’t written to you about what our friendship means to me.  It’s been a long time coming.  But I really hope you don’t take it to mean that what I write here is going to be brilliant….it will be just simply honest.

So let’s see…..where to start……..

Starting work at the old awesome [Day Job] was a scary prospect.  Especially as it seemed to me that people had begun bonding and I was apparently an urban myth.  When I think back to that time, it’s you who sticks out the most in my mind.  Not just because you totally freaked me with the whole yeah I’m married and my wife’s name is [TMD]!!!!  Still lovin how my face gave nothing away. ha!  I was so clueless.  It’s mostly because you always made an effort to include me and you felt genuine.  I sooo appreciated that.  I always felt really comfortable around you.  You make me laugh because you can often stress about social situations and meeting new people.  But in actual fact you have a wonderful ability to make people feel at ease and more able to just be themselves.  You’re never afraid to laugh at yourself and I think that is rare and beautiful.  It instantly makes anyone with a guard up lower it and relax.  I was rather overwhelmed when you phoned me and told me that you had spoken to H about my immigration issues because she had a friend who worked in the [government].  That was so kind of you and I’m quite sure you never thought anything of it.  Yet there I was having spent months at home on my own with no money and feeling depressed when you made such a friendly selfless gesture.  It meant a lot to me.

The main thing about you [Existere] is to me you are a piece of home.  That’s how much you mean to me.  And I know you know what kind of value a statement like that holds.  How you are reminds me so much of my friends and my life back home.  I can have the most frank discussions with you without any fear of judgement (well if judged at least you’ll tell me!).  You’re honest and I feel I can be upfront with you. I deeply respect you and how you live your life.  Your love for life and appreciation of even the smallest things energise me.  I love that upon hearing a crazy stupid song, we’ll all get up and dance our little impromptu dances.  Your horribly rude songs make me laugh so much.  I love that I’ve now seen all 3 High School Musicals and love them not just because laughing at Troy is fun but because of having watched them with you and taking it both seriously and appreciating the stupidness of it all.  I feel like I’m still a kid and treasure that feeling.  I can fart in front of you and poop at your house!  I’m never self conscious around you.

You’re a wonderful listener and advice giver.  You’re really good a scaring me!!!!  Not sure if that’s something I like or not hmmmmm.  I love wandering the streets in my pyjamas with you.  You have a great knack of making people and well me feel very special and unique.

You are a rarity Ms [Existere].  I thank God you came into my life.  You are my family and always will be.  You’ve played an important role in my life and I’m glad I’ve shared so many amazing fun filled times with you.  I really do treasure them.  And now with this new stage of life (eeck!)  I know how brilliant a mother you will be.  You already are.

I love you heaps….[my country] and [Aussie’s country]!  (ok now the other side….both together….now the first one cause it wasn’t as hard as the other)

x

You can imagine what it felt like to receive this out of the blue when I was having such a hard week. It makes me want to put up Chirp’s and Cookie’s letters as well. Sometimes it is nice to be reminded that you are spectacular, shiny, and special. Okay, it’s ALWAYS nice, but sometimes it is a lifesaver.

Fears.

May 15, 2009

Oh, god. Just reread yesterday’s venting and now I am crying again! How is it possible to feel this down and depressed when I am growing two lusciously gorgeous babies? I am beyond lucky to be pregnant with twins – on the first try, no less – and yet I just mope and mope.

I know this is part hormones, part feeling sick today, part being at home for seven long weeks. And still having so long left to wait – 12.5 weeks. I guess that isn’t actually that long, but it sure does feel long. And every time I wish it was already August, that the babies were already here, I feel guilty because I WANT Torre and Mano to stay put until 38 weeks are up.

I just feel easily overwhelmed. Joy wrote me with some simple requests for me to do – all things I already knew about and planned to do, but it feels like a ton of concrete has been dumped onto me.

And the root of all this? I AM TERRIFIED.

I am worried something will go wrong with one of the babies, both of the babies. I am so fucking scared of having these little people in me, that I am somehow going to screw it up because my body is having such a hard time coping. Reading about twin mommies who work till 36 weeks makes me feel like a fucking loser because I don’t even feel physically okay when I am lying down. Reading about people who lose their babies at 38 weeks makes me SO FUCKING FEARFUL because I’m only at 25 weeks.

What if something goes wrong? Where has my positive mental attitude gone?

During IVF I was so happy and confident. Now I’m just a fucking crazy, upset mess. Part of me is looking at me and wondering if I ought to be accessed for antenatal depression (despite clinically knowing one bad day does not depression make). Then I hear Kleinette’s old words in my ears – how quick I am to jump at the worst for myself, when in reality everything I’m feeling is totally normal and appropriate. What pregnant woman doesn’t worry?

I also worry that all my stressy nerves will hurt the babies. I don’t feel like this all the time. Not even most of the time. But for these minutes during the day when I wonder if I can bear to let myself love these babies in case something horrible happens, I feel like if I let myself really start crying I might never be able to stop.