I often write about what keeps me going, with anecdotes of Tes and the stories of love and support around me. I wonder sometimes if anyone else is unfortunate enough to find them here, reading my blog, as I have others, in a similar situation. In this dark mess of feelings mixed with small hope and clutching on. I’ve always thought it’s important to be honest, to normalise things, so I wanted to talk about counselling.
I was against the idea at first, my background supporting vulnerable people for many years, although not counselling them, had strangely put me off. This was alien, to be on the other side of the sofa , to have someone outline their service, tell me what they could or couldn’t keep confidential, to have someone look at me with distant sympathy, to know they put a clock in the room to time the session and ensure they sit nearest the door. To know they would have to attend supervision themselves because of what they will hear. I kind of knew too much about the process.
A couple of months afterwards I found a card put through my door and I decided to email them, I couldn’t bring myself to ring, they understood. I want to give this thing my all, this grief thing, I want to give myself the best chance which means those around me have the best chance.
I arrived at the hospital to meet her for our initial visit, I was completely thrown as I found myself outside A&E for the first time since that day. I felt panicked and overwhelmed with sadness at the thought of the crushed people inside, what they were going through. Who was hearing those dreadful words? The blue flashing lights, the rushing of uniforms and sad bewildered faces almost drove me back to the safety of my car. I stared at the revolving doors. Another first.
I took a deep breath and I was at our meeting point, the red post box, I felt like I was on a blind date and jokingly considered to myself the fact I should be wearing a red carnation! She appeared, smiling warmly. She’s about my age and we chatted about how she liked my Fly shoes and how the organisation was funded, of all things, as we walked to the small yellow room. I spot the clock right away and during our sessions I’m always conscious of time, completely my own doing, not hers.
I wondered why I was there, what could she do?
What she does, for me, is provide a space of complete and utter privacy to spout my fears, thoughts, disappointments, guilt and anger but also to talk and talk and talk about Tes.
I’ve said before, when Tes was here I sometimes worried I’d build her up to people too much so I’d play down many of her achievements, but now I just want to shout out at anyone and tell them about my daughter and this week at counselling, that’s what I did mostly.
Tell me about Tes she said. So I did. She was very clever I said and quickly added this wasn’t the most important thing about her, but she was. She had no hair until she was two, I said. Everyone said she looked like her dad, Tes did not appreciate being told she looked like a man in his 30s with receding hair (sorry Jase). Tes wanted big eyes like her baby brother and when she was 3 she would widen and open her eyes up as much as she could whenever someone spoke to her attempting to get the same look as Morgan that brought him so much attention.
She joined ballet classes when she was 5 and swimming gala at 11, she played the cornet and tried piano lessons, but Tes wasn’t particularly active and these became mere distractions. Her passion was books, end of. Her dream day was to stay in bed until 1 o’clock with a book with me pandering to her with tea, toast and maybe even lunch. I used to think I won’t be able to do this forever, she’ll go to Uni and she won’t always be here and that’s why I’m so glad I did pander…..the time was much shorter than I could have ever imagined.
I told her when Tes was eight we clashed often, she was so opinionated and forthright, attributes that I simply have no idea where they came from (ahem!). I worried we wouldn’t get on when she approached her teenage years but we did, really well, hardly a cross word, one or two but not anything like I expected. Perhaps I was thinking of myself at 15 and not Tes! When she was eleven she chose to go to a high school that nobody else went to from the village, she got on the school bus on her own and off she went. She thrived in education, she worked hard. She was frightened of being called a nerdy, but before she left us , she’d accepted her qualities and even her beauty. She was strong and had morals, she fought for inequality and she stood up for others.
I told her that a few weeks before that day, I sat her down and said, do you know what Tes? You could be anything you wanted to be. I’m not one for waffle or false praise. I mean it Tes I told her seriously – she looked at me and said, do you really think so mum? I really do, I said, without doubt. I can’t be grateful for anything more than I got the opportunity to tell her this to help her believe and know her future was there to take hold of, to be whatever she wanted to be.
I said to the counsellor, I was just getting to the stage that I was really proud, of myself as a parent. I thought, I did it! She had made it to the teetering edge of young adulthood armed with fairness, beauty, intelligence, laughter and hope.
It was lovely to speak about her like that, to overflow and gush with happy memories, to tell a stranger about my gorgeous Tes. To be told that she sounds like an amazing young woman. Yes she was, I said, smiling through tears.
So that’s my counselling, an opportunity to express, remember and look ahead. For me, that can only be a good thing.