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Long Shadows

September 6, 2015

It’s no picnic feeling under the weather. I can cope with feeling rough but I find it hard to cope with Steven not coping with me feeling rough.

On Thursday I went for a consultation with a herbalist. It was a very positive experience. To be given the time that one simply wouldn’t get from a GP is an unusual but heartening experience. For the GP to say that the only way to repair my damaged larynx is to rest it, doesn’t really take into account the reality of my home life. “I can’t act out the Gourmet Night episode of Fawlty Towers with you Steven because I’m resting my voice” is never going to work. So I was hoping that between the herbalist and a vocal therapist, we might tackle this from a more holistic angle.

I came away with two tinctures and a sense that I’d shared an hour with a real healer. I didn’t expect such an immediate effect though. When I sat with Steven yesterday morning to run through his plan for the day, there was no croak. I didn’t sound like Phyllis from Coronation Street. I went off to work and five clients later, the voice was still holding up. I stayed at the flat overnight and by the time I got back to Steven at midday, I was feeling pretty chipper.

The weekends are always full on, vocally. Two hours of taping. An hour of an old Top of The Pops. Two hours of music DVDs. And a new series of Strictly starting and intensive back stories for all the contestants to be developed. By the time the night shift worker arrived at 9, Phyllis was back. I went off for a gargle and to tincture my tonsils. Steven wanted to know what the odd noise was & I told him I was taking my medicine for my bad throat. Bang. The unspoken had been spoken. And all his fears of me being ill and him being taken away again burst out. Five years on and the anxiety never abates.

I spend a lot of time with clients considering whether it is possible to ever leave a traumatic experience from the past behind. You can talk it through over and over. You can become more conscious. You can spot triggers. You can make changes that are in your power to avoid a recurrence. You can heal, with or without a tincture. But when something was so painful, so threatening to everything you need for a sense of self and safety, the scars will always have a rawness that time cannot completely repair. Damage limitation, perhaps, should be the goal. We’ve done the social stories so beloved by social care but frankly, they don’t even touch the sides.

Trying to help Steven understand his own emotional process is tough. Having a conversation about Kurt and Roland from Tears For Fears and what they eat for Saturday tea gives him an emotional security. To have that conversation punctuated by a coughing fit delivers the opposite of emotional security.

That’s life.

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From → Social Care

4 Comments
  1. “… & I told him I was taking my medicine for my bad throat”

    As soon as I read that, I went “Oh shit”.

    Poor Steven.

    Whatever we can say about his time in enforced “care”, however angry we get, it happened. And Steven, and his network of people who love and support him, will likely be dealing with it forever. And it makes me so, so, SO cross.

    How do you move forward from here? As a therapist, do you have any ideas? Is it getting any easier, or is it just as raw every time?

    I feel for you – and Steven – so badly. To be triggered by a sniffle or a croak… That’s so sad.

    I hope your throat soon improves and you can get back to the regular weekend fun, music and dramatisations. Do you have the Faulty Towers script book? I do, and it makes me laugh every time I read it. Enjoy Gourmet Night. I prefer Waldorf Salad. 😉

    • To be honest, as I wrote in the blog, any health issue of me that is noticeable is likely to send Steven into a panic. I just hope that time will reassure him – the more often I’m poorly and he doesn’t get taken away might reassure him eventually.

  2. nic permalink

    Do you think as an ageing parent that little and often episodes of ailments would help? imaginary ones ( not frozen shoulders and veins, they will be along soon enough ) Steven is clearly captain of his ship from reading your blog and he could potentially stand you down and put you on light duties every now and again for very limited periods, calling a seconder into your role. Some scenario of his choosing might work. The menace from trauma doesn’t go away but for Steven to have survived and be the young man he is says something about resilience he created for himself by himself.

  3. Helen permalink

    We cannot do it all – there are no easy solutions – we just have to find our own best way – sometimes we need to find strategies to pass on some of the load – giving our loved one as much control over the process as possible and keeping what we need to in order to prevent state impositions. Good luck and take care of you too. Helen

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