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Why I sailed my choir into the therapist’s office

We all need a therapist's good advice sometimes

#Australia #over50 #blogger #goodadvice

It had been nearly 6 months since I’d seen her, my ‘therapist’. I actually regard her as more of a ‘wise Aunty’, even though she’s younger than me. Living in Australia, far from older relatives as I am, and with Mum safely tucked up in her Residential Home for people with Dementia, sometimes I simply need to check in with someone objective, smart, and kind, who has my wellbeing paramount.

Yes, #firstworldproblems I know. But I’m doing my best to live gently on the earth, and make conscious choices about my daily behaviour as much as I can; sometimes, I get a little overwhelmed, and need a soothing conversation to re-centre me. I’ve suffered twice in the past from episodes of depression (one was post-natal, and the other when my father died suddenly), so I know I need to manage a slight tendency towards anxiety learnt long ago at the feet of my mother.

And this time, as I stepped into the light-filled office, with wooden bookshelves and curling leafy plants in every corner, I carried a choir of voices with me.

You see, everything is going really well right now. My son ‘18.5’ has finished his exams and schooling, so is enjoying a summer of part time work and surfing, floating between his Dad’s house and mine. I have several exciting performing gigs coming up (small but fun, which is just what I like), plus I’m sort of falling in love… well, definitely/sort of.

All of which is causing a huge kerfuffle in the rowboat of my life. My co-passengers aren’t happy: Ms Anxious is waiting for it all to collapse, Ms Avoidant wants to run away and start a new easy life in Brisbane, Bali, or Berlin, and my sweet inner Little G is sitting confused and pretty scared by this whole new landscape.

Most of the time, I’m enjoying the bobbing of the river, the gentle slap of fresh waves against my side, and the ever-changing outlook. Then my choir of voices get a bit too shrill about how far from home we’ve travelled, and that perhaps we need to turn back now? Or is it far too late for that, which makes them louder?

I can’t stop this river. I can’t make Mum’s brain better, I can’t keep my son safely tucked up at home forever, and I can’t keep my soft heart locked in a box of solitude or casual dating only.

I have to sail on down the river.

A dragonfly reminds me to be grateful for Nature

#Australia #dragonfly #Nature #gratitude @boneAndsilver

I can row, read a book and just drift, watch the dragonflies flit past, invite different passengers aboard (the choir will have to shove up to one end), or even slip myself into the waters and keep one hand on the craft.

But I cannot stop.

So the choir complain, fight amongst themselves, offer me diametrically opposed attitudes or actions, and generally confuse me completely when they get too noisy.

When I’m fighting the urge to have a small weep almost every day, I know I need some ‘wise Aunty’ time. The first thing I usually do is burst into tears, then within 10 minutes I’m feeling a bit better… which is when the real excavation begins.

Yes, I’m in a time of big changes, which feel like rapids: it’s been 10 years since my Dad passed away, and my Mum has just been moved into a permanent Home in Wales, the land on which she was born, and where she will now die. My son has his life in front of him: he’s talking about a year in a van in Europe, or a ski season in Canada; he can go anywhere and do anything, just as I did at his age. Hell, at 19 I emigrated to Australia alone and didn’t see Mum again for 4 years!

Falling in love with another human being, with their own plans, problems, dreams and foibles, is a confronting cocktail of togetherness, separation, power struggles, and vulnerability versus sovereignty.

My choir want to keep me safe and sane, I get that. They just have vastly different approaches, which rock the boat too much, making me feel nauseous.

What do you do when you notice you’re getting overwhelmed?

In gratitude for deep listening, and the power of a long, slow breath into my belly, G xO

 

47 Comments

  1. A thought provoking post, bone.

    “What do you do when you notice you’re getting overwhelmed?”

    Me, i go sit in my garden, with a cup of tea or glass of wine, write poetry and listen to the birds. When i can drive I like to take myself to a quiet part of the beach and stare at the ocean

    Liked by 2 people

    • Brilliant- yes, there is nothing like the garden or ocean’s edge is there? I’m a sunset beach walker myself… always a good reset. Thank you for sharing 😊

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  2. This is wonderful, Gabrielle. I love how you give yourself support when your voices get out of hand. That is an act of self-love and really wise. I hear you with the wanting to keep your heart locked away. πŸ’œ So glad that you’re opening to loving relationship. It’s a daily choice, isn’t it?

    What do I do? Forgiveness (of course) and meditation, plus I have a regular running routine. Plus, I have a coaching group. They inspire me and help me acknowledge the voices – and do it anyway.

    Blessings to you! All the best Gabrielle. Great post ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That you are able to recognize and isolate the individual voices in your choir is impressive. Mine all sound vaguely like my mother and Nell…:)

    Your post is quite serendipitous. Our lives have been particularly tumultuous lately (for better or for worse, in sickness and in health), but rather than turning to, say, alcohol or (other) drugs or sexual dalliances, I lose myself in…

    …building datasets!

    In this case, I am brainstorming every movie I have seen more than once (~550), and collecting IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes and Leonard Malting ratings data. Kind of like I did in my “Ranking Every Charlie Chan Film” post…

    Seriously, that is what re-centers me. The activity is simultaneously tedious and fascinating, and it reminds me that “I am really good at this kind of thing!”

    Reminders of one’s core competencies is a powerful antidote to life’s vicissitudes.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sounds exciting!!! You’re acknowledging it which means you’ll be right.
    I feel overwhelmed sometimes and when it happens I withdraw from life as I know it. I slowly reduce my stressors. Then when I feel better I start taking more on.
    This last year I’ve gone out of my comfort zone and though it was stressful it’s given me confidence.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I get overwhelmed, I tend to get snappy at people and all my patience just disappears. And I tend to withdraw, laze about to let the feeling pass, and then tackle small things until I have everything back under control.

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  6. This is such a wise and clever post. I am so happy for you G, and what a lovely analogy that you are travelling down the river. I hope the current takes you down a direction that meets your needs and makes you strong and happy.

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    • Aww, thanks Eve. I actually felt a bit embarrassed to post it, cos I felt like I was being a whinger, compared to other people’s situations… but it seems to have touched readers, so that’s good, and it’s always nice to know we’re not alone in our struggles hey? Hoping all is well with you xx

      Liked by 2 people

  7. What a coincidence. Yesterday I visited my psychologist, a wise woman who has helped me steer my boat through the stormy waters that menopause create. I don’t see her often but check in with her when I feel like I’ve dropped an oar. A few tears, a cup of tea, and some wise and grounding words and I’m ready to start rowing again. I also find dance classes to be very therapeutic. Mr D and I are the youngest couple in our class. There’s nothing quite like learning a new tango or waltz, giggling hysterically as we trip over what seems like three left feet πŸ™‚ Bless you xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is exactly where I’m at and why I go too! What good company I’m keeping clearly. And yes, this menopause business brings fresh challenges doesn’t it? Fascinating & vulnerable ❀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading, understanding, & commenting 😊
      I appreciate your good wishes, and reflect them back to you in the water, G

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  8. HI Gee, So nice to read. My psychologist has been on my mind it’s been a while since I had a session but she does the same for me as you mentioned. Change is constant that’s what they say but for sure some changes are bigger and more unsettling. That’s an interesting word. Unsettling. Like standing up in boat when you should sit down and stay steady… Another wise woman also says to feel the feelings in the feeling. Another choice to try to feel deeply rather than to think to much. keep going back to the feelings and let them really have their time… a concept more for me I think. You have to give yourself quite space to really feel… love you

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, so true! Thank you for commenting- it does take so much time & energy to really ‘feel feelings’… and our culture of Productivity & Consumption doesn’t really support that enquiry does it? Yet too much navel-gazing is equally unsettling. I appreciate your input so much, love you too xxx

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  9. I go and sit inside a favourite book, one that I’ve read and reread often enough that I don’t get too caught up in the drama but visit, like old friends getting together for a good chinwag … Glad things are trundling along so well for you. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Widds- yes, I do that too- some books on my shelf with awesome female characters I’ve read half a dozen times (Marilyn French’s ‘Our father’ springs to mind)… but sometimes the choir sings so loud I can’t concentrate ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I think you are very wise to realize you’re getting overwhelmed, and to take steps to deal with it. And I love your description of the “choir” that we all have in one form or another (I’ve also heard it called the “internal committee)! As for what I do when it all gets to be too much: I prioritize. I figure out what is truly important and must be done, and then take a short break from all the rest of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thrilling yes, but so scary… feeling vulnerable sucks sometimes, especially when added to all the other big changes going on… Thanks for being a Love cheerleader L πŸ™‚ x

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  11. I love how you’ve written this. So brilliantly put. I lead a fairly low-key, unproductive, slow life, so I can get very overwhelmed by change. It manifests as a complete inability to make decisions, string a sentence, or I get clumsy, like my brain has forgotten how to work! I tell my partner if I’m struggling, or the world! I don’t talk things through with friends πŸ™„ Anything that involves being cradled by Mother Nature usually does the trick, helps me get perspective. I hope you find a way to balance your keel and continue your smooth but fun sail 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh thanks love- it’s so nice to hear that others’ have good techniques for dealing with the stresses of modern life, and yes, time with Mother Nature is a big one hey? Just the visit to the therapist, and writing this post has definitely helped me feel more balanced… for now, until the next set of rapids, however big or small they may be xx

      Liked by 1 person

  12. For some reason, I’m really bad at telling people when I’m overwhelmed. The hardest thing for me to learn over the past few years was to turn to my now-fiancΓ© and say, β€œI’m overwhelmed” or β€œI’m flooded.” If I don’t, I tend to get very quiet and dissociative. But it’s also hard because his OCD keeps him pretty overwhelmed pretty much all the time, so striking a balance between the two of us has been a Process.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh a great, and timely post for me. So true, the different voices in the head, each with their own agenda. I reckon the one thing Menopause has taught me, is that when I’m overwhelmed, I need to sit down with a book and just take an hour out reading. (It’s my way of meditating). I always come back feeling a bit more centred and a hell of a lot less likely to be cranky with the family. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. zlotybaby says

    I loved this part when you spoke about Ms Anxious and Ms Avoidant. This is EXACTLY how I feel whenever something big that scares me happens in my life 😊 (I guess I don’t consider running away to Germany, because it’s too close to my home country πŸ˜‰).
    I think it’s great you have a therapist to talk things through. Even hearing yourself speak to someone objective makes you see how you really think about many things. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

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