Small steps – 9 – 10th September 2013

– when I was a social worker there were a couple of times when I stayed off work for 6 months – I had to go back to work because after that time I had to go onto half pay which, in no uncertain terms would fuck my life up.

Going back to work mad wasn’t a bundle of laughs either. I was invariably stunned and stressed – something/ somethings would have happened to some of my clients that contrived to stress me out further – to make me float away….

Crazy – my empathy gene was so effected that I was worrying more about the impact my client’s lives was having on me rather than how it made them feel.

After time – weeks – months – I gradually returned to my usual level of social workeryness – but not without experiencing some weird and wacky stress combined with less than optimal support fro yours truly.

Today I’m sitting in Ella’s front room setting myself small goals which may or may not come to fruition.

Opening the blinds was a big step. The world feels cacophonous – but I’ve done it – that said, I feel a little stripped bare.

Tomorrow I’d like to take a walk outside. Ilmington isn’t a terribly threatening place. It’s a picturesque village in middle England with delicious yellow Cotswold stone houses – the weather is pretty mild….

Wednesday, I’m hoping to go to my favourite Chinese restaurant for lunch…

These are all starters to the main course – a short holiday to a little seaside resort in southern Spain….something that normal people do all the time.

It sounds like the right thing to do. Surely it will have therapeutic benefits. Surely these are all little steps in the right direction….

I’m going to bring you along on this part of my journey….

Today, outside feels a little optimistic – it’s bright, it’s loud, it’s brash….here in the front room the LOUD TV offers me some escapist solace – when I look elsewhere I feel dazed…my lips are pursed….I’m following the plot on TV having mislaid it in real life….

In good coaching/ counselling/ cognitive behavioural therapy style I’m visualising what the outside might look like/ feel like/ sound like/ smell like.

I’ve got a small route round the block planned. I won’t rush. If I see someone I know I’ll briefly pass the time of day…calmly.

The walk will take about 5-10 minutes.

It’ll be no problem.

So….welcome to Tuesday. It’s a cool day – there are a few more clouds than you’d find in The Simpsons sky. I’ve had some shreddies – I’m charging my phone up so I can call Ella should things go belly up. Kind of unrealistic – there’s almost no phone reception anywhere in town – and Ella’s not around this morning.

So….probably a good thing…I’m on my own. I’ll take my computer scrabble shots. I’ll get dressed – I’ll watch just a bit more….TV.

How do I feel? Well, I’m trying not to. No, I’m not trying not to feel – I’m trying not to attend to it…I’m focusing on the task in hand.

So, there’s a bit of a quandary – I’m scared to feel – I’m scared not to feel – what kind if strange limbo is that?

Ok – I walked out of the house – pausing, where I could, to take snippets of film – Johanna would be proud…

I saw a guy I knew – stomach lurch – desire – impulse to flee…’ Morning….’ I smiled amiably.

I walked around the edge of a local pond – taking in the sounds and sights of a pre autumn day – a vibrant blue dragon fly buzzes by – the wind mumbles through the leaves of the oak and horse chestnut trees that hug the route.

I feel that distant connection to THE walk. The sky, the clouds, the smells – sheep with a puzzled look.

Just as I near Ella’s house again I see the red post van along with the post lady.

I have to stop. I listen as she walks up Ella’s path and returns to her red box on wheels…

What was I afraid of? A conversation that transcends ‘Good morning’? Then, suddenly, I’m caught in an alleyway frequented by dog walkers – here comes on now. Heart pounding – nowhere to run ‘Good morning,’ big (exaggerated?) smile…and then back to Ella’s without further chicanery.

I did it though. And I think I can do it again. Not right this second….but soon.

Tomorrow involves Chinese food.

And a lot more people.

Let’s wait and see…

Walk a mile

Chris

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