25 April 2012

A session with Yalom - Part 2



A Session with Yalom Part 2

We covered a lot of miles on our journey – over 3000. I had a lot of thinking time, and sure enough, as we drove through mountains, past huge lakes, through deserts, some thoughts did start to formulate. I wrote down notes in the car (which I can barely read).  Some of the themes of fears and insecurities for me that were brewing were:

Authenticity – what is it really? Is everything an illusion? Is our logic and our rationality a tool with which we justify our actions?

Connection – what is the source of our yearning for connection? Conception in the product of union; being born is the ultimate divide. Is love a construct to attempt to gain the approximation of the togetherness of gestation? And is death, therefore, sweet relief from the inevitable lifelong pain and yearning?

The process of counselling/psychotherapy – is it an authentic, healing process or is it a construct to make the therapist feel better? Do we subconsciously pass on our construct resulting in the client taking on a similar construct leading to them feeling better because we have passed on our way of coping with existence? Do we help clients replace “unhealthy” and dysfunctional constructs with more workable and life-enhancing constructs?

Freedom and choice – It feels to me like we have a choice and I operate from that level. But I also feel that there’s something bigger than me (fate, destiny, chance…) that has resulted in my capabilities of choice. I struggle with understanding how others do not see it the same way.

Childhood “stuff” – just thinking about bringing some old, personal issues into the session had me feeling nauseous. Such a strong reaction showed me that I should perhaps not avoid this topic. After all that cognitive stuff above, this was a gut reaction to old pain. Do I really want to revisit when it’s all behind me? Well,  who better to entrust it with?

All along the lead up to the session, I had a background fear that Irv would get sick and cancel. I did not dwell on it – I did not want to send negative vibes out into the stratosphere (how grounded does that sound?!), so I allowed myself some excitement of the anticipation, but it was safely contained, should the worst happen. Coincidentally(?) my daughter brought up one of her deep thoughts for all to share, during our journey, such is the gift that she is, which I wrote down in my notes:

“It is better to not be too happy because if you are, and things go wrong, it feels worse than if you were just a bit happy”.

We talked about this for a while and I told her that I think that sad and bad things are part of life, and that curtailing happiness won’t stop them from happening, and that embracing the happiness makes the most of it while we have it, making the bad things easier to tolerate when they happen. Whether I manage to do that myself is something I am unsure of. I am closer to it, and in this instance I did allow myself some excitement, but yes, it was “safe” excitement.

So, on the morning of the appointment, in a hotel in Sunnyvale, close to Palo Alto where the appointment was to be, I woke up excited and ready. After breakfast, I decided to check my emails and there it was, a profuse apology from Irvin that he had woken in the night feeling terribly sick. I felt crushed, and quite numb. All that build up, all that supposedly safely contained excitement and I was gutted. He mentioned that if he made a miraculous recovery maybe I could see him the next day, but what’s the chances of that? My colds/flu are always worse on the second day.

I knew it. It wasn’t going to happen. My husband and kids were so disappointed for me – they were more visible about it than I was. I numbly got on with the day as we changed our plans and went to Monterey, in the pouring rain, early. The Facebook responses to my disappointment were helpful – so thank you to my friends and family for your empathy.

Because there was a small chance of a miraculous recovery, I did not allow my disappointment to flow freely. I protected myself from the depth of emotion and saved it for when I knew it was definitely over. We had a bit of a downer of a day – it rained continually the entire day, the forecast was for pure rain  within a 5hr radius of Monterey (indeed, the whole of California) for the rest of our time in the States, and the visit to Monterey Aquarium was disappointing. We have been spoiled with Plymouth Aquarium, and I had visited Sydney Aquarium 17 years ago, with which Monterey is supposedly on par. Well, it just wasn’t that great, after the huge build up and misleading brochure. Also, the kids were beginning to feel really homesick

That night I decided to do some believing in the reality I wanted (I have been reading Joe Dispenza’s Break the Habit Of Being Yourself which goes on about Quantum Fields and creating new realities). So I pictured waking up to a sunny sky and a message from Irv. I imagined the experience of this being so and fell asleep…


So I awoke to sunshine, but no message from Irv. I decided to email him and find out if it was a possibility, so I could get on with the process of expressing my huge disappointment (which was still on hold), then get on with the rest of the trip. The act of writing the email brought up a lot of feelings for me. I realised how much this meant to me and I had uncomfortable feelings around that. I felt anger towards Irv for being ill, and for the fact that this was way more important to me than it was to him:

“Hi Irv, I am sorry to bother you, particularly if you are still feeling very ill. We are making our plans for the day and I was just checking in the faint hope whether there was any chance for a reschedule today… If there is any chance I would be most grateful, and yet I feel uncomfortable being in the situation where I am this desperately hopeful and dependant upon circumstances and somebody else. This is very complex. Regardless of the outcome I guess I have stuff to take away to process. Anyway, an update would be good.”

Why was this so difficult for me to write?

Well, anyway, I'm glad I did as I got an email from Irv telling me he was feeling better and would 12:30 be okay. Unbelievable. By now we were about an hour and a half away. My husband and kids were really pleased for me, even though it involved disrupting their day. So off we went.

At 12:25 I arrived at Irvin’s home office and waited a few minutes outside, feeling very excited, very nervous and ready to go.


Click here for Part 3

2 comments:

Kate Wilson said...

I'm really looking forward to the next post. Your questions on authenticity and connection feel particularly poignant to me.

Anonymous said...

No words, just a tear rolling down my cheek

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