Have you ever reached a point where you’ve thought ‘now what?’ It may happen after a long succession of things that haven’t turned out in quite the way you had been hoping. Or after feeling judged by others. Sometimes it feels that no matter who we try to be – kind, aloof, involved, funny, serious – it just doesn’t go well and we’re left feeling that we don’t fit in, again. Sometimes we feel judged because of how we look, our accent, where we live, our jobs. It can feel exhausting and make us withdraw and question whether we ought to bother trying to reach out to others again.
Over the years I’ve had many experiences of realising how lonely it feels to speak out about something that feels unfair. Being a bystander is not a position I am terribly familiar with. It has often disappointed me to witness how I have over-estimated who is on the same page as me when it comes to allowing diverse voices to be heard – socially, politically and professionally. But I wouldn’t change a thing. Being suppressed is what destroys us and makes us an empty shell of who we could be.
It’s a very disappointing feeling to realise someone is not who you thought they were. Depending on how much they meant to you it can be a huge loss. It can be painful trying to reconfigure who you are now and how you could have got it so wrong. I’m often left feeling that some people just want to take all the blame for how their relationships turn out. It’s hard for them to remember that other people were involved in the relationship too. Maybe being in the wrong is a familiar and comfortable territory.
I am always curious about how clients experience counselling. For me, it is crucial that I feel that on some level the therapist cares about me. Not massively, but if I feel like a transaction to them or that they have other things they would rather be doing then there is no second chance I’m afraid. I also recognise that it may be hard for some clients to feel cared for or that someone could ever care for them. I asked someone recently how they knew their therapist cared for them because they were very sure that their therapist did care. They replied “I feel it”.
It’s a funny thing having counselling. You make up your mind to give it a try and make the telephone call. Things must be bad to do that in the first place. And then the day arrives and you start to think maybe I’m alright really. Even though for years you’ve known they could be a lot better. It’s a bit like going to the hairdresser on the one day of the year your hair looks great or magically feeling better when you finally get to see the GP.
There’s little comedy to be found in the response me, me, me when you’re distressed. It implies it’s not ok to be concerned about yourself or how you feel. It implies that if only you stopped being so selfish and inward looking you would be a lot happier. It implies you should spend more time on you, you, you. In short, you’re in the wrong. And if you’re a caring person or find yourself trying to please others in life the retort me, me, me can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and feeling misunderstood.