An Ode To Being A Hypocrite, or, I Am Afraid of Change.
I am not The Professional in my sessions with clients, because my clients are their own professional experts. There are times where I don't feel professional in any way, let alone an adult, and I'll finish the session and think to myself; "Well, you were pointless there Stephanie, weren't you? Perhaps we should Google new career paths and see how feasible it is to live off grid in Norway." My inner critic will awaken with a thousand foghorns and I'll recall every minute detail in which I didn't get a particular comment correct, or I could have done better. I could have shown I'd listened clearer, used a better describing word, or shut up more. But a creeping sensation that's been prevalent this last year more than anything else, however, is the over-arching theme of my being a hypocrite.
I've had a lot of therapy over the years, with several different therapists, and I've fallen prey to a feeling that I think many clients have towards their therapists that I'd like to myth-bust. That therapists get shit done, that they know exactly what's going on, they're organised, they live and breathe therapy and self-awareness is forever instilled.
Without disclosing too much about my private life, I'd like to recount a rather amusing example of how I, Stephanie Healey, do not help myself. In the hope that if you think me to be unapproachable or intimidating, as so many therapists can be, then you can have those ideas quashed.
At the start of the pandemic, I moved in with my boyfriend and took over his spare room to continue with therapy sessions via my computer and over the phone. There was a desk and a bed, and an amalgamation of both of our things spanning - what seemed like - decades of shit-collecting. Both of us are classic "let's keep this wire in case we..... find the appliance it attaches to", until we realise we are swimming in too many bobby pins and manuals from 1998. I was grateful to have a quiet space, and to be able to continue working at such a horrific time in our lives. I set up my laptop on the desk, and found the camera captured nothing behind me except the door. Perfect. I looked exactly how I wanted to be perceived; like I had my shit together. The amusing tragedy was that if my laptop moved a fraction to the right, it would show the real story. Our bulk bought toilet paper from Cost-co, 6 suitcases, our puppy's carry case, my entire wardrobe of clothes I was "donating to charity", all of our books in towers (which believe me, is SUBSTANTIAL), lost photographs not yet put into frames, random boxes full of uselessness, and about a millions bags labelled "need to sort". To get into the spare room, you had to manoeuvre yourself around extra laundry detergent, our dog's old crate and an extra chair to get to the actual desk. The state of the desk was no better. As well as a fine layer of dust there were pens that didn't work, discarded study notes, full journals, wires with no appliances, a penis demo I stole from my old job, 3 tv monitors (why, I don't know), and a lorra lorra scrap pieces of paper. Because it's always good to have paper, ya know?
I'd survey the room whilst waiting for Zoom to load and think "this is a joke". Such was the towers of denial that at one point my dog dislodged a major supporting structure and created an avalanche that tumbled around me, and my only response was to laugh hysterically.
As much as the room depressed me with its sheer volume of stuff, I knew where everything was so I had little motivation to tidy it. It was organised with no organisational skill whatsoever. My boyfriend once asked "do you have any safety pins?"- and my mind, like the matrix, sifted through the enormity of the clutter and I knew that there were 4 safety pins, located in a side pocket of a shoulder bag which was folded in the purple suitcase, AND I was bloody right.
After the avalanche fiasco, my boyfriend forced us both to sort it over a bank holiday weekend (I know), and whilst I do feel better when I walk in every day to work and I don't have to battle with all of the crap - I'm so aware that actually in this case and in so many other aspects of life, I'm quite comfortable at settling, or making do; even if it's quite detrimental to my soul.
Whilst I work on my own worth and capacity to implement change (or lack thereof), I am forever amazed at my clients, for their bravery to not only figure out what's not working for them, but for deciding they're going to exact change and decide for themselves what their future is going to be like. Who say in one session "I realised this thing doesn't make me happy", and then later on tell me that thing is gone, dead, buried, and they've bought a cat.
I say many times that I believe we are all trying our best as we figure out our patterns of behaviour, our traumas, and our self worth. And I'd like you to know that I, after years of therapy, still think change is scary. It frightens me, so very much. Whether the change is at my own hands or not, I am frightened of it, and it makes me avoidant to the point that I may as well be an ostrich in a desert.
I am not The Professional in my sessions with clients, and sometimes I feel like I'm not the professional in my own life. What I do know, is that I am a human, I am a client, I am my inner child. I know that I am trying my best through it all, because I say that about everybody and I am included in that sample.
I am the owner of 4 safety pins, whose soul belongs off grid in Norway.