Lovely Linda is my counsellor, who I see every Tuesday in her office, above my GP’s practice. She’s a former nurse and semi retired counsellor. I was referred to Linda by my GP. I’ve been seeing her for around 10 weeks now.
I remember my first ever session with Linda. It wasn’t long after my suicide attempt, and I was very tearful and frightened. I didn’t trust her and thought that if I said the wrong thing, she would call social services. They had already been called, by the staff at the hospital and although they hadn’t taken any action, other than a phone conversation; I was still waiting for them to swoop on us in the small hours.
I climbed the stairs to the small, perfectly square room that Linda inhabits, above my doctor’s surgery. To my relief, the person who met me at the door wasn’t Miss Trunchbull, but a small, respectable-looking, middle aged lady in smart black trousers, pastel blue cardigan and comfortable shoes. She had a kind face, red highlights in her respectably short hair and an expensive looking scarf round her neck. She reminded me a lot of my Auntie Liz. “Hello, Caroline.” She said in her soft, south Welsh lilt.
Linda showed me to a brown leather tub chair, which had a cream and mint green patterned cushion propped up against the back. She closed the door and shut out the tap-tapping sound of her neighbour’s keyboard. I studied the room. A computer desk sits against the back wall, its monitor facing it, to no doubt protect Linda’s patient information from prying eyes. Beside the desk is a wall mounted bookcase. Three rows of books on person-centred counselling, depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses adorn its shelves. A filing cabinet fills the opposite corner of the room, one of its feet must be missing or damaged, because one edge of the base is supported by a textbook on domestic abuse. Linda mustn’t get many domestic abuse victims through her door. The silence in the room is interrupted by the ticking of the basic white clock on the wall above my head. I was sat in one of three identical tub chairs, mine parallel with the door and facing the second chair. On my right is the third tub chair, which faces the computer. On my left is a small end table, with the obligatory box of Kleenex tissues perched on top.
Linda sat in the tub chair opposite mine. She smoothed her scarf down, before resting her hands in her lap. She was waiting for me to speak. But where the hell do I start?! Finally, she put me out of my misery. “I don’t know why you’re here, Caroline. I purposely refrain from reading patient’s notes. When you’re ready, could you please tell me your story?”
Tears blurred my vision. “I tried to kill myself at Christmas.” I spluttered. Linda crossed the room and handed me the box of tissues. She returned to her seat and sat in silence. She didn’t press me for details, instead waited patiently for me to wipe my eyes and blow my nose. “OK. Do you know why you did it?” She asked. Yes I did. Well, kind of.
I explained to her about my non existent relationship with my mother and how she left when I was 13. I told her about my past struggles with mental illness. Then the really bad stuff came out. My evil paternal grandmother, my equally as evil aunties and uncles on my Dad’s side. How my alcoholic auntie attacked my house and told my neighbours that we were abusing our children, all because I showed her abusive text messages to her spineless jellyfish of a brother. I told her about the police being involved and the anxiety I feel constantly, because I’m waiting for my so-called family’s next attack.
After I’d finished, Linda took a deep breath. I was scared that she didn’t believe me. Let’s face it, my life hasn’t exactly been normal. Even a soap opera scriptwriter couldn’t make this shit up. To my relief, she believed me. She broke everything down, into manageable chunks for me. She started with my mother. I told her everything about what happened and how I feel about her and our estrangement.
Linda suggested I write a letter to my mother. I don’t have to send it, if I don’t want to; but I’m to write everything down and not to pull any punches. Once it’s written, I’m to get rid of it. Burn it, send it (I’m definitely not doing that!), anything. I’m just not allowed to keep it. I can either choose to pick a significant date to discard of the letter, or just get rid of it whenever I want to. The idea behind the letter, is for me to have a constructive outlet for my feelings and to take control of a situation I’ve never been given a say in.
I’ve decided to write the letter and discard it on my mother’s birthday. I’m planning on tying it to a balloon and releasing it into the sky. I hope that watching it float away, will help me to literally release my feelings of sadness and rejection.
Because my sessions with Lovely Linda are a big part of my life (not to mention my recovery), I’ve decided to dedicate a series on my blog them. Stay tuned, for more tales of Lovely Linda and her three identical tub chairs haha.
Photo by Alexander Pemberton, courtesy of Unsplash