The counselling is over.
‘I think I’m ok now,’ I informed my therapist.
‘That’s good,’ she nodded, encouragingly. ‘What’s changed?’
That was a hard one. And I had no simple answer. Each week, our sessions had removed the emotional and mental lint I’d picked up over the previous seven days. I would log on for our zoom meeting, we’d exchange greetings and I’d immediately start rambling about how I was feeling, where my thoughts had been, what might be worrying me. Very occasionally I’d pause, and the therapist would allow the silence to settle before gently nudging me on with a prompt. And off I’d go again, unpicking stitches, dragging out stuffing from my brain, showing her this memory, examining that fraying thought.
The regularity of the meetings in itself brought change. For a day or two after a session I would carry on with my life feeling lighter, as though I had dealt with difficult tasks from my never-ending to do list. Then a couple of days before the next session, the link to the next zoom meeting would ping into my inbox and I’d feel a ripple of anxiety. What would I have to talk about this week? I was ok, wasn’t I? Surely it’d be better not to keep dwelling on all this loss and stuff. How can I get over it if I keep focusing on it?
But then the therapist’s smiling face would show on my screen, and I’d start talking and hardly shut up for the next 45 minutes.
I talked about worrying about how to mark the third anniversary of Dan’s death. Just chatting about it helped the fears to dissipate, and I felt at I could meet the date with a calmer bearing than in either previous year. And I did. We discussed it the following week.
‘It was good,’ I said. ‘A little gathering of half a dozen of us, sharing memories. I had a burger that gave me indigestion.’
She smiled. ‘And how was it being back in Sheffield?’
I told her it was lovely. How I found myself thinking, ‘ah yes, that’s right, this is where I should be. This is the life I left and here I am picking it up again.’ The sunshine helped. I felt that Dan was most definitely still present. He could easily be on that tram going to school, popping into that sports shop to grab another two-for-twenty-quid footballs, or queuing for a choco-mocco-frappo-cino in that coffee shop. I liked the warm buzz these thoughts brought me. They reminded me how much I loved being Dan’s parent.
Spending quiet time in a place where I felt Dan was near, was just what I needed to help me survive another anniversary. And the comfort it brought made me believe that now was the time to go it alone again, to learn how to pick off my own emotional lint. I promised I would use this blog to help with that.
So, when she asked me what had changed, I replied, ‘Nothing. I’ve just learned to live with it better.’ And we said our goodbyes, and she wished me luck.