I have touched on my vulnerability in a previous journal and how significantly I can feel its weight when I write my journals. In this journal I will grab a huge dense chunk of it, fasten it around my waist, and plunge into the waters of self-exploration.
The First Time I Put On My Human Mask
The reasons why I had to attend my first counselling sessions are hazy to me. On another day I will clarify the reasons why with my parents. As far as I can remember I was referred to a counsellor because I had struggled with the news of my parents’ separation. I was around the age of thirteen, and I remember how devastated I was. I remember wrapping myself in a duvet, lying on the sofa while leaving the television on in the background. I felt like someone had torn apart my life and everything I knew. I wasn’t watching anything; I was just staring into the ceiling. This was one of the rare times I was furious with my dad. I blamed him.
If I didn’t feel anger I felt emptiness. I remember staying in my catatonic, cotton-caterpillar state for two days until I had a conversation with my dad. I cannot remember it. It is incredibly frustrating that I cannot remember the details when I look at myself at this stage of my life and other life-changing experiences. I truly believe the challenging experiences are the most influential into shaping you into the person you become. How can I not remember the conversation? It was short but it had such a significant impact towards my teenage years, university and my future career.
The conversation happened because I remember my mum telling me how sad he was about my reaction towards him. It wasn’t his fault and I feel guilty for my selfish reaction, he didn’t need it at such a difficult stage in his life. If anything, I am shocked at how I did not have any significant emotions or reaction towards my mum.
After the conversation I thought that the anger had disappeared. I thought that at the time but upon reflection I realise that I had completely shut it away and refused to acknowledge it again. I think this is important for me to consider when I think about situations or people that have made me angry before I knew I had to better myself. My coping mechanism was to bottle it up until it got too much for me. It led to me being furious to the point it feels like I am about to black out from rage, to the point that I felt my whole body trembling among other feelings. The targets to my fury would have been so unaware of the snowballing conditions prior to my fury so I can only assume that they assumed that I was overreacting.
I would love to say that in this situation with my parents’ separation that I managed to get rid of the anger, and I feel like a part of me wants to write that I did replace it with sadness, but the truth is I don’t remember. I don’t remember how I dealt with it because I don’t think I ever did.
Looking back at how I was at this situation I see how I was young, unready, and undiagnosed (I’m saving that for a future journal). I know other people have gone through hugely challenging and difficult situations at significantly younger ages and have persevered, but I am not those people. I am me, and I was not ready.
The next thing I remember from my handful of hazy memories about this situation is that I was given an appointment to see a counsellor. This was a few months after I had been told about the separation. I don’t know whether it was my school, my parents or a decision between the two to decide to send me to counselling. I never asked for it, I had no idea about counselling other than what I had seen on TV, and I had no idea what it could do for me. Why would I? I didn’t think I was the sort of person who would ever need it. No one grows up hoping to speak to a counsellor. I was going through so many other things so I knew that pouring my emotions to a counsellor was the last thing I wanted to do.
I remember how uncomfortable I found the idea of explaining everything that was going on in my head about the situations and problems I was involved with. I remember my internal debate about how truthful I was going be to my counsellor. A genius thought it would be a good idea that the waiting area for the students awaiting their counselling doom would be placed right next to the door to the staff room. It felt like every teacher I had ever known was confused as to why I was standing there by myself while everyone else was in class. I was eventually invited to a small room by my counsellor who asked why I was there to see her today. I have no idea what I said or what I was meant to say, I cannot remember her or much that we discussed but I know that she was one of the two counsellors I have seen in my life where I have been completely honest.
This is because after a month of counselling I was referred to another counsellor. After a session with this new counsellor, I was referred again, and this happened another two times. All of this happened in just under a two year period where my snowball of problems seemed to increase by size almost every week. My trust in counsellors drained away each time I was passed on, what was the point in being honest to my counsellors if I knew I was never going to see them again? They were useless to me. I felt abandoned and frustrated. There were only two people I could trust with my problems and neither of them were professionals.
After my first experience with counselling I felt like I had been drained of all my energy. I was asked to immediately go back to my maths class. I was already pissed off because while I served my emotions on an emotional platter to my counsellor, I got no answers to the questions I was asking. I was never told what a counsellor could do for me. Not only was I made to see someone I didn’t want to see, I felt like they had done nothing but made me feel worse.
So here I am at the door of my maths class. I remember walking past to get a glimpse of where I could sit. All the seats were taken. I had 25 minutes left until my next class and felt there was not enough time to wonder around the school pretending I was told by one of my teachers to go get them photocopies or something. I bit the bullet and went in and for the first time ever; I put on my human mask.
With this mask on I could pretend that everything was okay. I walked in as if it was normal to walk into the middle of class half an hour late. My friends asked me where I had been and I explained I had a doctor’s appointment. I talked as if I had not been emotionally opened up, carved out, and sewn back together. Everything went well, nothing was out of place and everybody just let it be. I repressed and ignored everything I had discussed until the next week, repeated the process and wore my human mask again. My mask worked so well I did it for almost another 10 years.
I realise while proof reading this how much I went on tangents. I think I think this is because I am so used to steering away from thinking in too much depth about the challenging emotions and experiences I have had. It is easier for me to steer away even though I know I could benefit more from tackling my issues head on. This is the first journal where I have written half of it, left it for a few days, and returned to it. I was so fired up when I first started writing this journal but when I looked back at what I had already written I realise that my excitement had deflated away. I feel dissatisfied about how I have ended this journal so I have decided that I would not like to write a journal in this manner again