Once a week I take an hour long journey across London. The underground in rush hour is always a pleasure and the chance of getting a seat is slim, but us commuters know how to travel. Rain or shine, a bottle of water, ipod and the London Lite is crucial to block out the noise and the stupid sods who leave it until last minute to irritatingly dash through a wall of people squealing ‘Getting off, getting off’. After a couple of changes I glance around, panic as have arrived at my destination, then frantically barge through a wall of people shouting ‘Getting off, getting off!’ Finally out of the station I walk on auto pilot to my final destination, press the buzzer, wait then enter the busy therapy centre.
The waiting room is in itself an experience to savour. It’s small, comfortable and full mainly of women! Most of whom appear to have a large neon sign above their heads flickering the words ‘I’m Gay’. Women, hey! No one makes eye contact and it is amazing how interesting the latest copy of Marie Clare can be during these uncomfortable moments. Next week I may arrive equipped with rainbow flag, ‘my girlfriend thinks I am a lesbian’ t-shirt and dating cv to hand out. At least we know we have something in common.
One by one we are picked off by the various therapists who catch your eye at the door, smile and turn as you follow silently to the pre-booked room. Let’s remember I am not clinically insane, I have not joined Prozac nation and I never have suicidal thoughts. I am just your average woman who has made some mistakes and wants to understand why, in an attempt to not make them again. I think some friends picture me laying on a chaise lounge surrounded by flock wallpaper, oak furniture and psychiatry books. Unravelling my childhood as I stare dreamily at the ceiling, wallowing in self pity with a box of tissues at hand; whilst the therapist closes her eyes and mutters um’s and arhs at appropriate moments.
Now for the reality; I spend an hour sitting on a plastic chair in a cream painted, slightly tatty, basement room with a travelling clock placed on a small IKEA table between me and the therapist. The only similarity is the box of tissues. You know what we talk about, I write about it most weeks but of course some conversations will never be shared! I know very little about my therapist nor do I want to. She is in her mid thirties, has a cat – no not gay- and I am sure she is married but I always forget to look at her wedding finger.
There is something fundamentality safe about having a space to be truly open in. We can have a laugh, I can cry – it would be odd if she did – and she is the one person I can be completely honest with. I pay for her expertise to help discover more about myself, life and human nature. There is no room for lies in this small basement and each time I leave I feel softened, mellowed and I have a little more knowledge. To some this is navel gazing, to me it’s liberating, fascinating and trying to not sound dramatic; life changing. I would certainly recommend it. This week as I barged off the tube I received a call to say I was not going to be an Aunt again and for the very first time I have nothing left to say.