Friday, 3 January 2014

The importance of paying attention.

I was given an iTunes voucher from my son-in-law Ewen for Christmas, and trawling through the vast range of music, books and videos on offer I stumbled across the downloadable audio book version of M.Scott Peck's, "The Road Less Travelled."  
Back in 1990 my Mum was reading that book and told me I should read it too - I was 22 years old and thought, "Yeah, whatever...maybe one day I will...doesn't she realise I'm VERY busy looking after my 2 daughters who are under 3 years old!" 
When I saw it on my iPad I thought to myself, "No excuses - now is the time to read it."  Well, in this case listen to it - though I have also managed to uncover Mum's original version in hardback with her name and address on the inside cover.
I'm about half way through it and I now understand why 23 years ago Mum was suggesting I read it!  
I was 24 years old when I had my first experience as a client having been referred through occupational health to the on-site clinical psychologist at the hospital.  
I was stressed out and not coping.
Mum had died. 
My marriage was over. 
I was skint.
I was nursing part time and had young children.
I hated feeling so out of control.
The first session involved me leaving the ward, still in my nurses uniform, going to his office and crying for an hour.
He said very little.
I hated him.
I saw him twice a week initially - which I now realise says a lot about the state I was in!
I never really warmed to him, though I'm sure he was excellent at his job, I wanted him to tell me what to do, tell me how to fix the way I was feeling - just TELL ME!
Of course, that wasn't the way he worked and each session was a truly painful experience. 
After 6 weeks I was only to see him once a week - that felt okay - it felt like I'd been promoted.
I saw him once a week for ages, though I can't remember how long exactly.  I never at any point enjoyed the experience but I did start to notice I was calmer, I was seeing life with a new clarity and didn't feel like I was in that horrible, dark tunnel walking on sponge.  Things were improving for me, and I felt stronger again.
After our last session I sent him a, "Thank you" card, though I felt like he had similar skills to that of an illusionist.  I never quite (at that time) understood what he did or how he did it!  
I know now, that he gave me space to reflect on all the shit that had happened, and gently guided me to be less judgemental of myself, more accepting that though I may not have made the best choices along the way, that did not in fact make me the devil incarnate.
So, back to, "The Road Less Travelled" - the subtitle of the book reads, "A new psychology of love, traditional values and spiritual growth"  and there lies the reason I think my Mum was gently nudging me to read it back in 1990.  Maybe I wasn't ready to read M. Scott Peck's words at that intense and challenging time, but maybe it would have saved me a lot of angst in the years that followed.  Who knows?
I wanted to share this story with you as this year the Christmas gift from my son in law has reminded me to pay attention to the gentle, loving "hints" we get from those that care about us. Maybe you can think of subtle, or maybe frank conversations someone close to you has had recently, and maybe you've chosen to ignore their suggestions.  Don't put it off for 23 years like I did! 
If Mum were here today I think she'd be rolling her eyes while saying, "Finally!  Better late than never I suppose!" 
"All you have to do is to pay attention; lessons always arrive when you are ready. and if you can read the signs, you will learn everything you need to know in order to take the next step." - Paulo Coelho

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the honest and heartfelt account of this occurrence in your life 24 years ago. I think people have a different outlook on such episodes these days. It's so important to be frank and honest with ourselves about what has happened, how and why. I often advise clients to write no holes barred life stories. This often illuminates the process at a later date... Thanks again!