Over the last three or four years I’ve undertaken a couple of different rounds of psychotherapy. I liken the experience to that of spotting constellations in the night sky.
That’s probably the result of the goal I stated when going in to the first round: I’d like you to help while I take myself apart, try to understand how I work, and then put myself back together again.1I’m trying to connect the dots between who-I-once-was and who-I-am-now and find causal influences.
As I’m sure you can imagine: with an opening statement like that I needed to contact a few different therapists before I found one who was compatible with my aims2. But then, I was always taught to get three quotes before hiring a professional.
It’s that “connecting the dots” that feels like constellation-spotting. A lot of the counselling work (and the “homework” that came afterwards) has stemmed from ideas like:
This star represents a moment in my past.
This star represents a facet of my identity today.
If we draw a line from one to the other, what does the resulting constellation look like?
I suppose that what I’ve been doing is using the lens of retrospection to ask: “Hey, why am I like this? Is this part of it? And what impact did that have on me? Why can’t I see it?”
When you’re stargazing, sometimes you have to ask somebody to point out the shape in front of you before you can see it for yourself.
I haven’t yet finished this self-analytical journey, but I’m in an extended “homework” phase where I’m finding my own way: joining the dots for myself. Once somebody’s helped you find those constellations that mean something to you, it’s easier to pick them out when you stargaze alone.
1 To nobody’s surprise whatsoever, I can reveal that ever since I was a child I’ve enjoyed taking things apart to understand how they work. I wasn’t always so good at putting them back together again, though. My first alarm clock died that way, as did countless small clockwork and electronic toys.
2 I also used my introductory contact to lay out my counselling qualifications, in case they were a barrier for a potential therapist, but it turns out this wasn’t as much of a barrier as the fact that I arrived with a concrete mandate.
Is our galaxy unusual in this regard? Is it that stars form throughout our galaxy, but matter ejected from the bar into the arms affects the type of stars seen there? Is this a question of what forms where, or is it a clustering question? I honestly haven’t a clue, and I couldn’t find where this question had been asked before so I’m still “in the dark”… unlike the ‘dark’ places in our galaxy!
I hadn’t really talked about it yet, because I’ve been too busy… I don’t know… blogging about Marmite and beds and computers or something… but I had the most fabulous time at a New Year’s party hosted by Liz and Simon at their house in Macclesfield. There was drinking, and board games, and truly awful Troma films, and then at midnight we all counted down from 7, or 12, or something, and spontaneously broke out into a chorus of Auld Lang Syne. See: there’s a video and everything –
It seems that my mnemonic (as used in the title of this post) is broken, unless we reinstate Pluto as a planet and rename the fourth and eighth planets in the solar system to Lars and Septune, respectively. Which I think are better names, anyway.
It was a fantastic opportunity to catch up with folks I don’t see enough of, to talk about what had gone right (and wrong) about the year gone by, and what we were looking forward to in the year to come. Liz suggested that perhaps this should become a regular thing, a little like “fake Christmas” has begun to, and that seems like a good idea (and I’m pretty sure I heard Bryn volunteer to host it next year…).
By the way: do you remember how last year Paul, Ruth, JTA and I invented Argh! It Burns Night? We’re doing it again this year, and because so many of you expressed an interest in joining us, we’d like you to come too. It’ll be on the evening of Saturday 4th February (yes, we know this is a little late for a Burns Night, but the second part of Ruth & JTA’s honeymoon is going to get in the way otherwise): drop me an email if you want to come along for a night of haggis, whisky, and fanfiction.