One of the reasons I am in therapy is my unfailing ability to sabotage myself.
Three months ago I received my next oncology appointment for the 23 February 2017 at 10:40am. I have the paperwork, it’s written in my diary, I have lost count of the number of times I’ve checked it.
On Monday (13th Feb), Leah and I were planning the week, because I give her a lift to and from work every day and she, like me, has regular doctor and hospital visits for which I am her wheels and which we need to dovetail each week.
Today she had a doctors visit at 8:40, “That’s great,” I said, “I’m not due at the hospital till 10:40.” Sorted.
She texted me to check the time of my appointment, that both appointments were 40 minutes after the hour had slightly confused her. Because I know what my brain is like, I checked the paperwork again, in black and white – 10:40, 23rd Feb, before I texted back, “10:40.” I double checked my computer. What the fuck? It’s the 16th.
Two weeks ago, my second therapy session was on the 31st of January at 12pm. I was utterly convinced that my therapist had said we’d meet on Wednesday, at least that is what was written in my brain. Planning the week with Leah that week, I discovered that the 31st was the Tuesday. Shit, someone was wrong and I didn’t know who, at least, I had a pretty good idea, but the thought that I’d done another number on myself completely fucked me up.
I took myself along on Tuesday and Tuesday it was. Tuesday was the right day and that was me brain fucked.
It is a horrendous thing not to be able to trust your own brain. When it comes to times and dates my brain can make any shit up and I never know, usually, till it is too late.
I do not know how many times I have put two separate things in my diary, only to discover on the day that I’ve written two different appointments for the same day at the same time.
I sometimes wonder what the point of checking is, though I do, constantly, but in meticulously checking I can still think everything is ok, I’ve got it, but that is meaningless when I also know that my brain is not to be trusted.
I, Keith, want to get it right, these appointments are important, they are appointments with people who are looking after my well being, professionals entrusted with my care. Doctors, Oncologists, Therapists, bastard WCA assessments (not conducted by professionals, but life stealers), and so on.
It’s enough to drive me insane and it does.
When I got to my therapist on the 31st, I wanted her to have got it wrong, just for once I wanted my bastard brain to have got it right. She wasn’t wrong and my head had done me over again and I was left with brain buggering depression eating my soul. Self hatred come to beat the shit out of me.
For that, and other reasons, I am in therapy. I know that doing myself over is not the answer, making an effort isn’t the answer, striving isn’t the answer, pulling my bloody socks up is not the answer, were any of that any good, I would be the most punctual person on Earth.
The answer, if there is one, is to go the other way, at the very least, to go easy on the punishment and put a little kindness in there, learn to go easy on myself. More stress is not going to solve a single thing.
The wonder of therapy, and a good therapist, is to be regarded with open eyes, to be heard, to realise that this person is paying attention with great depth and skill, rainbow bright. Before a word is said, being present, being engaged, being accepted as a human soul, all my own being and hers present in a protected, safe space, is unbelievably wholesome. It is a well place.
I have told my therapist all this, and she said, “I understand,” and I can tell, looking into her eyes, that she does understand. She’s right there, not an ounce of bullshit. I can see the trust and care in her eyes, she is no stranger to how hard it is to relearn my self, her confidence and care reaches out and touches me, tears fall. In this place it is ok to cry and learn that self sabotage is a consequence of brutality and that maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Learning to deal with self hatred is not easy, but the thought did occur yesterday, when those thoughts come up, maybe I have to learn not to build a banquet for them with my best silver and crockery. I’ve been doing that a long time now and maybe I have to learn to show them the door. I see my thoughts, I experience them constantly, as a writer I enjoy many of them, they come and go, they are not me, but I have learnt to serve the best meals to the wrong ones, the ones that hurt me most.
I know from experience that change comes slowly, not always, but mostly, especially deep rooted stuff, learnt as far back as childhood. And I also know that the greatest gift I can give myself is time, to accept I am going somewhere, into unfamiliar territory. I also know it is a journey that I want to make, a journey I am willing to make, and I also know it is not easy, some of the things I encounter are hard and brutally painful. But I am no stranger to pain, and the pain of healing is a good pain, healing wounds that have been open for years, in which the pain is harsh and bitter and too familiar.
My brain, my mind, is not my enemy, it’s the only one I’ve got and it has in so many ways served me well. My issues with dates and time are about much deeper stuff that’s about self hatred and, you know what, I really don’t want to do that any more.
KOG. 16 February 2017