I had my second counselling session this week. I really like Gill, the Counsellor. She’s bright, intuitive, down to earth and I suspect has a good sense of humour underneath her calm, measured exterior. She doesn’t just listen then repeat what I’ve said back to her in the hopes I’ll come up with my own solution, she also offers her opinion on what might be going on and is already making me look at the situation with my Mum differently which is the whole reason I went to see her.
She’s also validating of the way I’ve coped with everything life has chucked at me and praise is something I’ve always had very little of. I gave a little synopsis of my life’s challenges in this post and she marvels at how I’ve gone through all that with basically no support or guidance and come out with such a level head and self-awareness when most of the people around me were driving to hell on a hand-cart in terms of misery and self-destruction. And it’s made me wonder the same thing myself. Faced with the same situation why does one person sink and another swim?
Until I left home at 21 my parents and I were living basically the same life. My Mum’s response was to be depressed, chain smoke and to become ever increasingly frustrated and bitter. My Dad’s response was to become ever increasingly meek and subservient to keep the peace. My initial response as a very young adult was to follow in their path – I was miserable, volatile, angry, had terrible self-esteem and made some very poor relationship choices. The difference was I realized that was no way to live and became determined to find happiness, peace and stability.
I guess that being stuck as a child in an unhappy household and recognizing I couldn’t change my environment but I could change my response to it put me in good stead for dealing with chronic ill health. When I realized I was going to be ill for the rest of my life I could have just chucked in the towel but I never have. I’ve had my moments don’t get me wrong, but I’ve never let myself wallow indefinitely in self pity or misery. As far as I’m concerned I am still alive and I’m determined to make the most of my life, whatever that holds (and at times it’s held very little other than pain and suffering).
What gave Mandela the fortitude to survive 27 years in captivity and come out to lead his Country without anger, blame or judgement? What gave Dave Pelzer, author of ‘A Child Called It’, the will to survive a childhood of unimaginable abuse and, not only that, to become a successful author, speaker and humanitarian? I wish I knew, because I’d bottle it and make a mint 😉
Speaking to my Counsellor I realize I’m very judgemental of my Mum in particular for the way she has lived her life. And regular readers of my blog will know, I actually fell out with a long-time friend because of her victim mentality and constant need for outpourings of love and support while some of my other friends, who had much worse lives than her, just got stoically on with it. People who play the victim seem to bother me on a very deep level. I find it irritating beyond words that someone would live their precious life in misery when they could live it in joy instead – it makes absolutely no sense to me. But why does it get to me so much? It’s something the Counsellor and I will explore.
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” Oscar Wilde.