It begins

Two weeks into my social media ‘detox’, I’m still tempted to log in to facebook several times a day, but remain determined not to. Hopefully the urge is weakening with time, and I’m getting used to the space that the avoidance has freed up in my head. I desperately needed a break from the politics that have taken over everyone’s timeline this year – the truth is I don’t miss having that in my life at all. I was annoyed the other day when my sponsor unexpectedly brought Brexit into the conversation over a coffee before the meeting. I’d been enjoying a peaceful week up until then without seeing it in front of me every day. I gathered that he had been working with a counterpart in his organisation from Brussels, and that they had been shirty about something to do with some work he’d done. He launched into the closest thing to a rant that he could manage – normally so zen, my sponsor doesn’t rant like other people, it’s more of a smiling and quiet character assassination, but the intent was there. His point was that we’re probably better off out of the EU if that’s how they’re all going to behave, thinking they’re better than us, and so on. I switched off and started to nod robotically every few minutes, deciding it would be better than actually engaging in the discussion. I have nothing more to say about Brexit to anyone, it’s beyond pointless in my opinion.

Fortunately my sponsor doesn’t tend to stick to politics for long, and without any input from me we were onto another topic soon enough. If I were to start engaging with someone who thought leaving the EU was a good thing I’d probably scream. The idea of Brexit feels more and more like a poison in the air, infecting everything in this country. A collective madness has gripped us and there seems to be no escape. Although P didn’t support leaving the EU he still supports the government for some weird reason, so I can never go anywhere near the topic with him, unless I want to fall out with him. I believe the country is heading for a crash that will be too long and drawn out for fervent leavers to notice in their nationalistic reverie. It’s infuriating and sad and there’s nothing I can do about it, so I have to put it behind me and ignore any discussions with the people close to me who don’t share my view. And I have to keep avoiding social media, for my sanity!

*****

My new working hours started this week, and I couldn’t be happier with the arrangement. Having Wednesdays and Fridays to myself, at least for now, allows me time to finally start doing things I want to do, important things. Real things. On Wednesday I attended an afternoon AA meeting and then I went swimming, beginning what I hope will be a new twice weekly routine. Today I started therapy again, and this afternoon I’m using simply to read and write before another meeting. Before I started at the charity I had a bit of time to focus on those things, but it was cut short, and it’s not until now that I feel I can really slow down and live again.

I’m pleased with how I’ve used the week, then. If all goes well the new arrangement will stay in place permanently. I say if because, as with so much in life, there’s no knowing how long I will be able to last on the reduced salary. I guess we’re not going to find out until a good few months have passed. At the moment I think I will be able to manage ok, but that could easily change. I’m trying not to let it worry me because I want to enjoy this time – I don’t want to let another year slip away in anxiety. This is my time, to be treasured while I have it.

Therapy started again today. A familiar combination of excitement and nerves brought me to the house in west London where my new therapist lived this morning. I must have seen about nine or ten counsellors over the years, and with my recent training in the subject I’m very familiar with how it works. So I was expecting today to be little more than an introduction, a chance for me to outline my history and what I was there for. I was rather impressed by how much we managed to cover in fifty minutes: we seemed to get through my whole life story, as well as the main issues bringing me back to therapy at this stage in my life.

I came away fairly confident that we’ll get on. He seems to be one of the quieter person-centred therapists, more interested in giving me space to talk and hear myself than forcing direction on me. I suppose it’s the space that I really need. I can already be sure that I’m not going to get any miracle answers from him. When I felt honest enough to say this to him he smiled, which I took as a good sign. There was certainly warmth and understanding there. I picked a gay man because I know I won’t feel safe sharing things about my sexuality with anyone else. I wish that weren’t the case but it is. I told him about my internet porn addiction this morning – the first time I’ve ever spoken about it to anyone – it was a hard thing to share about, and I don’t believe that I could go into depth about the type of porn I enjoy with a woman or a straight man, for instance. My new therapist isn’t exactly a loud and proud gay man, by the way. In fact he said nothing about himself or his sexuality today, it was all about me. And so it should be in professional therapy. But the prior knowledge I have from his website about it is reassuring, a thing I can keep in mind when I’m talking about the links between my sexuality and the problems in my life.

The fifty minutes passed far too quickly, as they always do. I’ve always wished the therapy hour could be a real hour, but as I now know, therapists need that ten minutes to write their notes, go to the toilet, make a cup of tea. They need time to process what’s happened as much as the client does. With the ‘behind the scenes’ knowledge I now have about therapy, it will be interesting to see if or how it affects my behaviour in this new relationship, whether it will be easier or harder to go through the process with him. Therapy is supposed to be a process of change; every course of therapy I’ve had before has changed me while I didn’t know anything about its mechanics. I can be quite confident about what lies ahead now: I’ll be doing a lot of talking, I’ll be exploring things I probably don’t want to explore, and I’ll be trying to get my money’s worth. Whether that can happen while I’m studying what technique the therapist is using, remains to be seen.

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