A couple of months ago I went to counselling to help me cope with a relationship break-up that devastated me. I couldn't sleep, wasn't eating, couldn't concentrate at work, I was pretty much a wreck. My friends were sick of hearing how much I missed him (even though he had been cheating on me, and left me for someone else), so I thought counselling might help.
It was great to get support through counselling. I could tell my story without feeling like I was whinging all the time. Gradually I got to feel better and better and got back to normal. I kept going to counselling because then I started to look at what I was doing in all my relationships. Why did the same things keep happening over and over again? Why was I a magnet for bastards?
Through counselling I got to see how I was making choices about partners, and why they weren't the best choices for me. I was so desperate for a relationship I was agreeing to the first guy who was even slightly interested. I was picking all the duds.
These days I'm feeling much better, I'm feeling more positive about myself, and I don't miss my old boyfriend. In fact I'm so glad I'm not with him anymore. I can do better than that.
It took me forever to finally get myself to counselling. I was so worried about what a counsellor would think, but then that was part of the problem, I was getting too worried about what everyone thought about me. I'd been feeling depressed for months and the worse I felt, the more I got worried about what people thought about me, and wondering did they like me, and becoming more and more convinced they they couldn't possibly like me, because I didn't even like myself. I didn't want to think about, it and I didn't want to talk about it, but I couldn't just keep going like it was.
I can still remember walking out of my first counselling session and just thinking, well I took the first step, and it wasn't so bad. It wasn't until about the third or fourth session that I really started to get convinced that it really was going to change. It turned out that things changed a lot more than I expected. Although I'd been unhappy for months, I'd actually been carrying around loads of shit for years. The first real sign that things were shifting was when a friend pointed out that I was laughing, something I hadn't done in quite a while. With each session it became easier and easier to turn off the endless chatter in my head and get rid of all the negative thinking and crap and I just start to relax more. I started to feel more alive and more connected. I started to worry less about what other people thought about me and started liking more about myself. It was though a weight was lifted off, giving me more energy to do things.
When I look back now, all I can see is an awful black period that I wouldn't wish on anyone, and how it sucked the life right out of me. I've got a few ideas now about how to stay clear of it again in the future.
Hope it works out for you too.
I first saw John some years ago, recommended by a doctor. I found it really helpful to talk to him, and saw him on and off for a couple of years.
Almost 2 years ago now my relationship broke up and I needed help more than ever.
Despite the fact that my ex-partner and I were mostly very civil, I was still a complete mess when the relationship ended. We'd had a time of being in separate rooms at our rental property until the lease expired. All my friends commented how civilized and adult we were being about things. I was determined for us to still be friends - our 8 years together was not a mistake, nor a waste of time - the reality was that we were better as friends, not as a couple. In my head I was fine with this. But my emotions were another matter.
This is where some visits with John really helped. I came to see that I'd had a lifetime of over intellectualizing everything - of denying my emotions and then of avoiding situations that might cause pain. As we peeled back the layers I came to see that there'd been a history of this.
I grew up in a very Christian family, and with the firm belief that homosexuality was sin - it could not possibly be God's will. When I was younger the stuff I did with my dick with men didn't matter – I believed God would change me as it would be his will I'd be married with kids by the time I was thirty. But I realised that time and distance didn't change things - getting older didn't make me straight, and I'd travelled round the world a couple of times and still did things with men.
For a while it was simpler just to ignore the bits of my life I didn't like – “sorry God that won't happen again”. Prayer and faith will change me. I even went to a "how to be ex- Gay" course. This didn't work, and forced some big thinking about lots of things. I began accepting my sexuality and not long after met my partner.
Looking back, I think that I thought this would be enough. I'd done so much hard work in my life on so many things that surely God could just piss off and leave me alone. I'm gay - big deal. I've got a partner now so I can live happily ever after.
Having worked so hard to achieve ‘happily ever after’ I had overwhelming feelings of guilt when we broke up - I've let everybody down - my family, his family, our friends.
John helped me see that I'd had a world-view for many years that wasn’t allowing me to be happy. This world-view had me convinced that life just happens to you and you just accept it - whatever happens is God's plan. Within this world-view happiness is irrelevant
It was quite a process going over the things I'd done in my life that challenged this world-view - there were many instances where I had exercised choice, where I’d made choices for myself rather than leave it to God - I'd moved cities several times, for example.
I found conversations with John incredibly helpful - always challenging and encouraging, never judgmental.
Counselling became one of a variety of things that helped get me better. Medication helped also. Talking to friends and family did too, as did journalling and lots of reading. I'd especially recommend Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch and The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
John helped me come to a much healthier view of the world (and myself) - what you're feeling and experiencing DOES matter. It's quite humbling - how many other people on the planet are there who are hurting also or experiencing similar situations or feelings to me? How did they get through? How do they cope day to day?
All big questions.
I feel like John's helped me rebuild the foundations of my life - what gets built on top now is fundamentally sturdier.
Thinking about getting help is a good start. Take the next step.
I've been seeing John for some time now and during this time I have learnt an enormous amount about myself!
If out of the many discussions I have had with John, I was to single out the most important lesson I have learnt, it would have to be how crucial it is to be true to oneself and to nurture and protect ones self esteem!
During my journey with John, friends would often approach me with their own issues; as I was gradually seeing myself more and more clearly and my life was becoming more balanced, I found myself telling friends that changing and bettering ones life 'actually is possible', if you are willing to put the time and effort into it. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen - you need to be prepared to give it time!
I initially approached John because I had (once again) developed feelings for a 'straight' man! (The can of worms was opened!)
This pattern of attraction and many other not so desirable patterns were of course the product of a less than healthy self-esteem.
Over time I discovered where a lot of my behaviours, my thinking patterns and my anger were stemming from - it is amazing to observe and make the connection between the way we conduct our lives and the reasons behind WHY we conduct our lives the way we do!
John and I identified a myriad of interactions with other people in my life that could probably have been handled differently; perhaps they could have been handled in a manner where I was not compromising myself (and my self esteem) for the sake of keeping others happy and approving of me!
Where was my anger coming from ? Why was I absolutely furious if the smallest thing did not go my way?
(I knew there had to be something more sinister at hand when I went crazy because I hadn't predicted the exact change I would require at the cash register BEFORE I left the house to go to the supermarket!)
Why did I break out into a sweat and quiver every time I had to deal with my parents?
Why did I have terrible problems dealing with any authority figures?
Why did I shut myself off from people and only allow people into my life that would further feed my low opinion of myself?
The list went on
Through a lot of self-exploration and discussion we discovered many healthier and more constructive ways of dealing with people and approaching life's obstacles; We discussed alternative ways of thinking about events that have affected and shaped my life, both in the past and present.
I FINALLY REALISED THAT I COULD SHAPE MY LIFE INTO THE LIFE I WANTED AND THE PERSON I WANTED TO BE ! THROUGH PHYSICAL, SPIRITUAL AND MENTAL CHANGES IT IS POSSIBLE TO BE HAPPY, COMFORTABLE AND AT PEACE IN YOUR OWN SKIN!
Mmm, although counselling feels like the big “C” for many people, another way to look at counselling is comfort, concern, consideration and correction of one’s approach to life.
Why did I go?
I had been deeply hurt by a friend; this was not the first time in my life. The more I gave or assisted people the more I was hurt. The last time I became agitated, deeply hurt, frightened and no longer sure of myself. I was withdrawing from my real friends and family. My health was being affected.
When you’re about to burst into tears all the time, or are so upset you’re unable to write your name, something is really wrong!
I was told to go to counselling by my ‘friend’, as I reacted badly to how they treated of me. The ‘friend’ had convinced me that my reaction was unreasonable, and so when I would get angry, I would beat myself up for reacting this way. However, then I came to understand that it was their behaviour that was unreasonable, not my reactions.
The first thing I did was to tell friends and family I was going to counselling and the reasons why. I found this a great help and not something to be ashamed of.
I listened to John, analyzed our discussions and feel I progressed rapidly by being totally honest. It is not that John told me how to react or behave; I had the power to listen and change.
With each session and John’s amazing recall from previous conversations, I was able to open many doors. I learned how I had been repeating a pattern from childhood. Throughout my years of being a child, teenager and as an adult I had been conditioned to believe that in order to have friends and to be loved you just give and give to other people.
The problem was, nothing was coming back to me from these people. I was allowing others to use me just by doing too much for them and not thinking of what I really wanted for myself. Counselling started a whole new approach to life.
With guidance from John I was able to make major shifts.
With counselling you receive a neutral positive approach to the problem, be it something you have to change in your life or figuring out why are you letting aspects of your life happen over and over. On the other hand family and friends will most likely take your side and tell you what you want to hear, but there is no growth in that.
Life is great now, everyone from friends and family to people at work have been commenting on how well I look.
Life is very positive and I’m so much happier. A quote from my sister sums it up, “You should be proud of what you have achieved” … “Please put yourself first and don’t let yourself get run down again”.
It helped me to see a naturopath as well. I also found Yoga brilliant. John will certainly assist you on your path, but you also have to make changes to assist your own life.