“Did you expect it to be easy?”

A question posed to me this week by my counselling tutor.  We’re right into a bit of the course I think all participants are finding a bit “heavy” at the moment.  Essentially as part of the course there is a section where you look at your own personality, your own relationships and your own personal history and taking the major schools of counselling theory we’ve studied you look at those aspects of yourself in relation to the theory.

“Why?” you may ask and that is a valid question. Firstly for your own development and self-awareness, which is considered a good thing for a counsellor and also to help you when working with clients to look at their personality, history and issues.

So I set to with pen, pad, list of suggested questions to ask yourself and… hit a brick wall!  For a start many things in my childhood are dim and distant only visible through a real thick fog of time passed.  Also then the emotions attached to them?  Am I now imposing something on that event that wasn’t really present at the time?  I know I never really processed emotions well, it is one of the main reasons I believe behind why I developed into an alcoholic, it is a terrific emotional anaesthetic.

When we gathered together as a group to discuss progress etc. I said that I’d found it really hard and couldn’t easily pin things I could remember to a particular theoretical element.  For example is something I remember as a key part of my forming in personality due to an instinctual driver for me (the id in Freudian speak or Organismic Self in Person-Centred language), or was it simply something introduced to me by significant others (parents, teachers, preachers etc.) and I was really finding it difficult to come to any conclusion or even really stay focused flipping back and forth between personality, history and personality all at the same time.

That was the point when the tutor said “Did you expect it to be easy?”   A fair point, intellectually yes I had thought I’d go something like

  • Remember something
  • Consider emotions and actions
  • Fit to theory
  • Repeat

Typical me – trying to process everything like a computer programme.  That’s why I realise that I got on so well with computing as a career in my late teens / early twenties.  It was black/white, on/off, 1/0 – binary.  Simple. Not complex.

Today I’m much more attuned to the plethora of nuances in the world particularly in human relationships, emotions and how people react and behave as a result of that.  I’m learning too that if I can’t easily determine for me the drivers and underlying rationale for how I’ve developed as a person then expecting to be able assess someone I’m talking to in a quick four step process like above is simply impossible.

About furtheron

Music and guitar obsessive who is a recovering alcoholic to boot
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9 Responses to “Did you expect it to be easy?”

  1. Your inability to process emotion was a contributing factor but doesn’t genetics also play a major role in alcoholism? Aren’t the children of alcoholics more prone to become alcoholics themselves, regardless of their ability or inability to process emotions?

    • furtheron says:

      Moot point…. neither of my parents was an alcoholic – neither of my siblings have had any issue with alcohol…. so… if you tell me its genetic I will then start to think I can drink safely again. There lie dragons!
      However I have one close relative in the fellowship – one of my siblings children. Also my mother made comments to me near to her death about her father and brother – both of whom I never ever knew that hinted that they had both had issues.
      Whatever – the genetic thing is only predilection towards the disease not a certainty and I find many alcoholics who acknowledge a similar basis to me that they started drinking as teenagers as emotions became things they simply struggled to deal with effectively.

  2. fern says:

    I like where you are headed with your thinking on this. I also view my past through a foggy screen and my emotions are equally vague. I can get caught up in what I believe was my childhood experience (such as believing I didn’t enjoy childhood events as much as I just followed my older brothers who I think were having fun). This remaking the past keeps me in the problem. It’s not a healthy place to be because I continually want a clear cut diagnosis and the standard treatment protocol, as if there is such a thing! In effect, my thoughts continue to believe there’s a problem and that’s the problem. I’m so much better off beginning each day anew and handling today’s issues.

    That said, I’ve been in therapy for different phases of my life. When I was in my 20’s I first disclosed to a counselor memories of childhood abuse and it was important that I relieve myself of shame and secrecy by talking about that. Trauma work is a whole different thing.

    Good stuff going on with you. I think you will be a great counselor!


  3. sherryd32148 says:

    That’s been a topic of conversation between my therapist and I of late – what is real and what has been imposed.
    You’re right…heavy stuff and not easy at all. But I like the fact that you have to do it before you can help others.

  4. Suburbia says:

    All that navel gazing is exhausting! Took me a big full day school to start it – very disturbing (in October) and my last essay to fell I’d got to grips with any of it (February)! And, like you, I start to wonder if I am just making things fit!

    Good luck – its a great ride!

  5. daisyfae says:

    Once again, your degree of self-awareness, and your ability to articulate these emotional and intellectual situation, is quite impressive. You may not always have the answers, but you do a fine job of laying out the problem. i’ve been accused of being a nutjob, albeit a self-aware one… i take it as a compliment.

  6. This reminds me of an exercise they had me do in rehab when I struggled to put together a list of things I felt bad about. They kept telling me I must be depressed, and I was certain I was not. I felt very little, to be honest, although I now know the sadness was there, just seriously buried. I like your computer analogy.

  7. liz says:

    That is hard. So easy to label things in retrospect fitting them into what you now know. But as you say are you reading in more than there was?
    I can’t remember anything positive about my mother. She died when I was 18 and had been a working mum so i was brought up really by my gran. Everyone tells me how lovely and fun and wonderful my mother was but I can’t remember it; all i can remember are the bad things. (Nothing serious or abusive – just tellings off. I was a good girl so they stick in my memory!)
    So whose reality was true?

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