by Tom Hudson
When my partner and wife of many years embarked on a psychotherapy course that was to change both our lives, those changes to be, were not apparent to either of us.
My first impressions were of growing frustration as I watched helplessly while someone who I knew well, struggled with new routines and challenges, and with my inability to ‘lend a hand’ if I even knew how, knowing that offers of help would be rejected anyway. Her occupation as companion, mother, and her creative work as jewellery designer and manufacturer was being exchanged for a much more disciplined and challenging one of student and researcher confronting and revisiting personal and private places where she had not been for many years – seeing herself and life through very different and perhaps more discerning eyes – the difficulty for her to roll back the years and do ‘homework’, the discipline of writing essays, the self questioning: Was all this effort worth it, was it really what she wanted? To the point when she even doubted her own ability to last the pace.
Was it easy? No! By no means! My own reaction to all her many mood swings – periods of self doubt and tears – discovery of hidden strengths – disappointment and frustration – triumph and realisation of understanding, were confusing and became a jumbled battleground within me, trying on one hand to provide the support for her and on the other, not to intrude into those dark moments when she felt that she could not go on and needed to be alone!
My own impatience when she expected me to act out the role of a client with assorted problems, when by this stage as far as I was concerned the problems were all too real! And finally my total frustration and exasperation when essay deadlines approached and her work had not reached her own high expectations which I was told about but not allowed to comment on!
What was a surprise to me was her absolute dedication to the work and my growing realisation that a significant change of attitude to what had become the norm in our family values and relationships was taking place. She became more confrontational and assertive.
Is there a good side to this? To all this disruption to what the passing years had shaped into a fairly routine family existence?
Yes, I suppose so! Reluctantly I must admit I rather like this new person, she takes more time to listen to me and others and there’s a new maturity and understanding of life’s many little twists.
It’s been an interesting and challenging journey for both of us, I’ve learned a lot – in many ways and I believe that we both have grown from the experience.
If the choice were mine, would I want to ‘do it’ again? No I don’t think so! Thank you! There’s a limit to knowingly embarking on such a course of action leading to so much change and disruption to ones lifestyle and outlook, not just for me, but I suspect for both of us.
But you never know, there’s always the excitement of the discovery of new sides to ones life or of finding an old self who might have been a better person.
Ask me again in ten years time!