Last year was savage. I hit a new low and kinda got trapped under the weight of it all for a bit. Lows are nothing new for me. I’m an Artist so having high highs and low lows is always expected, if anything I strive on being able to feel and express a whole range of emotions, ‘better out than in’ as they say, but it’s amazing how much I’ve kept in over the years.
At some point I decided to take the reigns again and share the bad shit as well as the good shit. Why? Because it’s real. I found myself being screwed over by fuckheads, only to resolve issues with them in private, then to forever bare the weight of the fact that I did nothing wrong, and they did everything wrong, yet I’m the one who fucking loses out as no one knows the truth. Resentment issues? Yeah I have plenty of them, so at some point last year I decided enough was enough and I’ve been sharing both ups and downs since.
They say ‘family comes first’. It’s a saying I’ve really been struggling with for the last couple of years. My sister and I had a falling out almost 2 years ago now, and we’ve not seen each other since. Out of respect for my sister I won’t go into the details, but my sister and I not getting along almost killed my mother (there’s only us 3 in the family afterall), and being a mummy’s boy I was willing to try absolutely anything to to save mum from the pain, so that meant agreeing to see a counsellor, something I’d never do as I like to think I can help myself, and something I was pretty afraid of (pandoras box, you know?!).
Our family doctor referred a counsellor to my Mum, who then booked in to see her a few times, from there the counsellor has met up with my mother and I at the same time, my sister and my mother at the same time, and myself alone once too. Just so you’re aware, this is still very much in progress, and it’s still as raw as ever, but I’ve already found some peace through the counselling sessions thus far, and I think that alone is worth sharing, so hopefully I’ll be able to skirt around the specifics, yet still share some of the ways in which counselling has helped me get through the fog.
I’d been to a counsellor before, many years ago an ex-girlfriend and I went out for 7 years, we practically grew up together. She saw a counsellor first, then at some stage I was called in to see the counsellor with her, and me being the open book I am I just made sure I was as honest as I could be, and one session was all it took for our 7 year relationship to come to a definitive end. The counsellor sat next to my ex on a couch, arm around her, with tissues, and I was sat in a single chair and asked some tough questions. At some point I said something along the lines of “sometimes I don’t trust myself”… and the counsellor then looked at my ex, and ask her, do you want to be with a man who doesn’t trust himself? I mean, shit, she literally closed the door and that was that. The counsellor even commended me on being so honest and that it’s taken some of her male customers 5 years to come as clean as I have… Savage.
Going into this first session I couldn’t help but think of conspiracy, that counsellors take the side of whoever is paying the bill… but hey, I wasn’t about to do anything different, in fact I was determined to be as open as I possibly could. The counsellors office was nothing like I expected, the lady across from me was nothing like I expected, I was just trying my best to breathe, and not judge, but on the other hand I wanted to try and make sure this woman wasn’t taking my mother for a ride too.
To say the first session left me feeling more frustrated and confused than ever is an understatement. There I was trying to “sell” my side of the story, only to have it all thrown back in my face. The counsellor didn’t buy any of it. ZEN? She let me know that the person sitting in front of her didn’t at all seem like the MR ZEN I was describing. Fuck she was bang on. That hit me pretty hard, and from that point onwards I was in, and willing to go the distance and not judge.
Another session I had with the counsellor alone went for almost 2 hours, and we got pretty damn deep and I got a lot of out it. What she did that helped me the most was catch me out more than a few times. She got me to ramble, and then she’d pop a question, I’d argue it, then she’d catch me out on a few things. For example; she suggested that if I could instead of saying “I hate kids”, to word it a little softer. I’d say I didn’t say I hated kids, then she’d correct me and say well, yes you just said “I hate kids” 3 times in the past 5 minutes. It’s hard to explain, but it’s this constant checking and reflecting that I found worked for me. It’s like the counsellor was acting like a mirror, but the reflection she was showing me in her mirror was way different to the person I was seeing in my own mirror.
Ultimately, you have to make things work for yourself, right? Like when I was in design school; you could either just do the assignments, say an A4 poster for the guide dog association, where every student hands in just that, an A4 piece of paper with dogs on it, or you could make the course work for yourself, and fuck putting dogs on it, fuck make it A0! You might end up with something rad that you’re more proud of in your folio as opposed to something that looks like everybody else’s shit.
So I’m making these sessions work for myself. The counsellor offered to help write an apology letter to my sister, but fuck that… if my sister ever found out the counsellor even as much as suggested a comma or full stop it might have sabotaged the whole thing. It had to come from me, and you know, that’s kinda where I took over.
I’m pretty cunning with my words. Writing up a convincing apology letter wouldn’t be a hard thing to do… but this had to be real. I had to drop all the fake shit, the ego (I have a HUGE ego, right?!), I had to strip it all back.
I had to be really sorry.
ZEN, cars, girls… I had to strip value from all the stuff that made me comfortable with being me, and I had to find the little boy who used to walk hand in hand with his little sister to the corner store to buy a 40c bag of lollies to share.
Doing so saw me drop to an all time low health wise. I was 52kg’s last year (I’m meant to be 58kgs), one of my teeth rotted and fell out (others are kinda on the way now too) and I have a fair few new white as fuck hairs on my face and head, but hey, that apology letter finally came out, it was real as fuck, and despite not getting an acknowledgement from my sister that she got my letter of apology to this day, I somehow found some peace in just writing it. I suppose you could say I was proud of myself for being real real, and although her silence kills me, I still feel better for writing and sending it.
Time flies and this last Xmas was the 2nd year in which my sister and I didn’t see each other, but ‘time heals’ too apparently (all these cheesy sayings I’ve always rejected in life are all of a sudden so valuable to me). I’m not sure how many more counselling sessions it’ll take for us to be a family unit again, or if we’ll even get there, but as I’ve stated already; I’ve already found some peace, enough peace to be patient, enough patience to be hopeful.
PS: THANKS SO MUCH FOR ALL THE PM’S! I’ve been chatting to a woman with cancer, a man who’s spent $70k on counselling, a guy on a mission with his brand, and everything in-between. My problems feel all of a sudden a little insignificant, but hey, we’re all fighting our own battles right?! Here’s to winning the fight!