Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Talking to Strangers

I'm just back from seeing my counsellor. This is the third time since the Golfer died that I have consulted a counsellor. Each time I went for several months then thought I was fixed and left. Then, a few months further on, I would find myself crawling back. It's very dispiriting. When I was 'normal' - i.e. married, I would have had very little sympathy for someone who still needed help THREE YEARS after their husband had died. I'd have thought they were malingering.

From this side of the fence I (obviously) see it very differently. For whatever reason (and there are a few), I find that I need that extra person to talk things through with, and I am very glad indeed that my counsellor is there. I can say things to her that I cannot say to my son or my friends. I still don't dig down too far, and I don't cry, but I find the sessions a useful safety valve, a place to be honest instead of putting on a brave face, and it is great simply to talk for an hour to a sympathetic listener.

But of course, the very fact that I need to use a stranger as that sympathetic listener highlights my situation all the more. When I was 'normal', and in a relatively happy marriage, I talked things through with my husband. I didn't need to pay someone to listen to me.Even though we argued a lot in the later days, when the chips were down he was always there for me. HE WAS PART OF MY TRIBE. It isn't just that he knew me better than anyone else alive, he cared about me more than anyone else in the world.

It is humiliating to have to go to outsiders for help, whether it's because I can't clear the block in my drains, or I've bumped my head and I'm worried that I'll have a haemorrhage in the night and no-one will know, or because I am simply lonely and I've talked to all my friends and I'm still lonely. It was a standing joke between us that when the Golfer came back from a long business trip he had to be ready to sit down with a big mug of tea (or a large glass of wine) because I was going to have two weeks' worth of conversation and gossip to get out. And he always did it, sometimes even willingly! Now I have to spread those conversations out amongst friends and professionals, and I understand how those little old ladies feel that you see in town talking at length to shop assistants. It isn't just that they are lonely. They are trying to replace the aching gaps in their lives left by family who have died or gone away.

So I go every week to my counsellor. And I'm very glad that she is available to me. But I wish more than anything that I didn't need her, that I was normal again.


Kate said...


email me.

doridoidae at gmail dot com

I'm not the Golfer, and I'm not a counselor, but I do think I could be a pretty good friend.

Coffeecup said...

Isn't it odd that we can feel humilated when we seek counselling? The most natural instinct is to want to talk things through, and that's why these people are trained to listen objectively. It most certainly is not a sign of weakness. A mind can be broken no less than a leg say, and who would judge if we needed it wrapping in plaster whilst it was healing? There is no stigma attached to seeking help in order to start to feel better. Surviving is one thing, requiring lots of strength to get through, but now that strength is being invested into wanting something other and looking towards the future. This has to be a leap forward in the healing process.

Be kind to yourself! This is a normal reaction to an incredibly difficult situation. Hugs ...X

reeflightning said...

three years is nothing puddock! be gentle with yourself. the loss of a life companion, their company, their support, their faults and friendship is devastating. time will eventually make the loss more distant.

Megan said...

Found this in the usual sort of hop-and-skip blog link way (Stonehead had a link to your croft blog at two and half acres which had a link here...) and I do hope you will go on blogging here. I'm looking at the fifth anniversary of my husband's death this week (do I get to count as middle aged at nearly 40? I feel middle aged...) and am still figuring out the loneliness and the grief. Partly that's because of the bizarre circumstances (blog with the rather long story here) but also simply because it's hard to untwine yourself when you've been so thoroughly and happily woven.

Thanks for the blog - so much that you write resonates.

Puddock said...

It's a bit late but thanks guys for all your comments (and the hugs!)

Since I wrote this I have finished with my counsellor. I suddenly found that I didn't need her any more, that I was definitely coming to the end of this grief thing and that while I still get sad, and fed up and angry, I feel strong enough now as a single person to deal with it on my own. Woo-hoo!

Megan - thanks for visiting. I'm so sorry to hear of your experience, and your loss. I so agree about the untwining thing - you have to untwine, to survive alone in the big bad world, but it's hard because you are leaving them further behind as you do so.

Kevina said...
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