That is how the Chinese proverb goes. Another saying is “The first step is the hardest.” Especially so when getting out of bed for that early morning run!
This blog is dedicated to all those who have decided upon that monumental decision to take counselling. I was prompted to write this after talking to a fellow brother on twitter this evening who is about to embark on HIS journey of discovery because ultimately that is what it is. AND IT AIN’T EASY!
Anyone expecting a miracle cure is going to be disappointed. Happiness, contentment, peace of mind, whatever you want to call it takes times and bloody hard work. Indeed those that have come out of the other side comment on the fact. You get nothing for nothing in this life. To get something out of counselling you have to put something in. In essence you have to give to live.
What brings an individual to the point where they say to themselves, “Well, I’m not sure I can do this on my own anymore.” When I was younger I used to fly small aircraft and there is an old saying in aviation. “Always tell the pilot the state of his craft, unless there is nothing they can do about it.” Well, as human beings there is always something we can do to change things for the better, ALWAYS.
My own personal experience was the passing of my mum in 2013. I under estimated my own grief despite thinking what I thought I was doing was correct by grieving in advance of the inevitable. For others, it is an incident at work, a point of singularity. In some ways that is easier to pin point but no less less easy to cure. I suspect for many, like me it was a slow drip, drip of stressful situations that we deal with as police officers. One day, we discover, despite ignoring the warning signs, that the emotional barriers we tried so hard to uphold simply get too heavy. For me, I slowly slowed down, swimming through treacle to the point where I was treading water.
I cannot stress this enough, excuse the pun! If you have decided to go to counselling, even reluctantly you have have taken the hardest step of all. Stick with it and hold your nerve because things do get better. Perhaps not to your timetable but ultimately they do. Things really do work out in the end and if it’s not right then its not the end.
Having made the decision that perhaps you cannot deal with what is going on in your life you will inevitably go through feelings of guilt, failure and weakness before your first session. The rational mind, what ever that is will tell you, you are making a mistake, its not as bad as you first thought, making a fuss over nothing. All very common feelings that your brain will use to convince you that nothing is wrong. You get doubly confused for feeling these emotions. More often than not the case of these emotions is pride; an emotion used correctly can change the world but used incorrectly can destroy your own.
So what can you expect from counselling sessions? Do you expect to be instantly cured? Do you expect to be given words of wisdom that will rock your world? In reality is this what your are hoping for because you are simply too emotionally tired to carry your own burdens?
Well let me tell you this. You get given nothing. Absolutely nothing!
The hardest thing in the world is standing in front of the mirror with the honestly filter turned on. You may find, as I did that the few first few sessions were awkward. You will spend the next few sessions talking bollocks, then just when you think that it is going no where something will come out of your mouth, something out of your sub conscious that will stop you dead in your tracks, so blindingly soaked in truth that it will spear your very soul. Some call it an ephinany, that road to Damascus moment. It happened to me and when it did, I cried and cried. Even now, the thought of it causes tears to flow.
From then on it got easier but still I needed to work hard. Its easy to give up after that moment. Like a course of anti biotic’s, you still complete the course after the symptoms have gone. Even this week, I took a drink driver to the hospital where my mum stayed. The reminder made me cry. Only this time it lasted a brief moment, it didn’t consume me.
And so, to anyone that is about to start counselling. You are amazing! You have recognised a problem in yourself by yourself. That is the hardest thing in the world to do. Don’t be discouraged by your own feelings or indeed by the comments of others. You are the bravest of the brave.
Perhaps in weeks, months or indeed years to come those detractors will also suffer the fate as yourself and perhaps they will come to you for advise. You will feel a certain sense of satisfaction as they did not support you in your time of need but it will be quickly washed away with compassion. Because you have been in that dark place also and the proof that you came out the other side is your willingness to help.