What a lovely Bank Holiday weekend we had in Chesterfield. The weather was great, sunny and warm with lovely blue skies. I was fortunate in being able to escape out into the countryside and go for a lovely long walk with my dogs along the Monsal Trail.
It was while I was out walking that I remembered a time a few years ago when I had a very similar experience of peacefulness, contentment and joy. Again I was out with my dogs for a walk, probably at a similar time of year and in similar weather. That time the walk was at Calke Abbey down near Derby. I have a very clear recollection of sitting on a wall by the reservoir, sharing an ice cream with my dogs and feeling sense of peacefulness and hope for the first time for months.
Relationship Break Up.
At that time this experience was hugely significant as I had recently separated from my first husband. I was engaged in a some personal therapy to help me deal with the break up and in fact, probably more importantly, help me understand myself better. I had been feeling pretty low for a number of months, I was finding the break up difficult, relationships with family were strained at best and I did not know how to make things different for myself, or what to do to help myself deal with the feelings I was experiencing. However, I remember very clearly sitting on the wall on that day and having what was probably one of the first experiences of hope after months of difficulty. In that moment I felt at peace, I felt happiness and I had a sense that things could be different. I knew I had a long journey ahead of me, but I also had a sense of potential and possibilities and that how I approached my life could change. I did not have to continue to think, feel and act in the way I had in the past.
These days, as a therapist I think that one important aspect of my role is to hold that sense of potential and hope for people when they cannot see it for themselves. Often when someone I am seeing is in the depths of their distress it is very difficult for them to see beyond what they are experiencing in the moment. To think that they can create a different life for themselves. That’s where I think a therapist has a hugely important task to hold that hope for them. To use a metaphor, it is almost like we are with them in a dark tunnel where they cannot see the light and we can. We need to let them know that the light is there and to help them find it for themselves.
I suppose this is, in part, what I am doing in writing this post. You may recognise some of what I am describing, have been in a place of despair yourself and recognise how difficult it was to believe that things could change. You may be there now – I hope you are not. What I do know from my own experience and from the people I have worked with over the years is that people are capable of making significant personal and emotional developments in ways that enable them to live more with more peace and satisfaction in their lives.