Cake: eating + having it

Cake: eating + having it

Can you really have your cake and eat it? This ‘therapy session’ is a piece of fiction I wrote a few years ago. The material is based on facts (but not from a client), and it has been anonymised.   Therapist: What prompted you to get in touch with me? Pete: Well, I have been unsatisfied with the sex life I have had with my wife for the last 3 years, and I now find it impossible to get aroused by her.  Then six months ago, this sexy woman came on to me and I thought, ‘wow! What a stunner!’  We went for a coffee, and one thing led to another, and we started to have a physical relationship.  She is absolutely gorgeous, and adores me, which is great.  I feel so alive when I am with her, and it’s fantastic fun, too.   T:  How do you feel when you’re with your wife? P: She’s a real turn-off.  You see, she has a bit of a health problem, meaning she gets very tired.  I find her draining, and she makes me feel like I have to look after her – bloody hell, I have turned into a carer!  I look at her body and think: ugh!  It hasn’t changed at all in 16 years, but I now think she needs to do something about her weight.   This new woman of mine is so fit!!  I just want to jump on her each time we meet, and guess what: I do!!  I am so turned on!   I mean, don’t get me wrong: I love Vanessa, my wife.  She...
Talk about pleasure?

Talk about pleasure?

I was feeling excited….I was about about three months into my weekly psychotherapy with Marcelle, and I had only that morning taken delivery of the thing in the picture on this page, an Axon Mark 2 Neural Guitar Synthesizer. Well, I don’t know what that means to you, but for me it was Christmas, chocolate and sonic orgasms all wrapped up into one. Imagine this: I could play my guitar, in the normal 6-string type of way, and at the touch of a button, out come the sounds of trumpets, violins, bells, organs, vintage analogue synthesizers or string orchestras….wow! I was in Wonder-Sound-Land, looking forward to soundfest binges galore all in my front room. But, what did I do in my therapy session that morning?… sat and tried to think about what I ought to be talking about, after all, I had arrived three months earlier with ‘problems’, ‘issues’ that I had to address.  I was supposed to sort through all my stuff, yeah?… in a focused and purposeful way, yeah? So, I thought, I had better talk about all the ‘bad stuff’. Trouble was, I couldn’t think of any! So for awhile we were sitting there, trying to give birth to some kind of conversation that didn’t really want to happen. The whole conversation for 20 minutes was totally constipated, something that didn’t want to come out. I was lucky that I had a therapist who didn’t listen only to the words that I spoke, she also listened to the movements and undulations within her, her own feelings about and reactions to our contact. During my training many...
Do you need anything?

Do you need anything?

Here’s a snippet from my therapy with Vanessa, a counsellor in Headingley who I saw for 9 months 20 years ago… My most memorable moment when seeing Vanessa occurred when I was feeling particularly frustrated with this whole ‘therapy’ process.  I had a gnawing feeling of dissatisfaction but didn’t have any words to put to it.  Having been brought up to be a nice well-behaved boy, I was often too polite to express any resentment about anything, but on this occasion I managed to be more expressive than usual.  I let Vanessa know a bit more directly how I was fed up with the world, and, yes, fed up with her, too. I was talking vaguely about needs.  I can’t remember how the conversation developed, but she ending up saying ‘I am trying to put you in touch with your needs’.  Well, it had never occurred to me that that was what therapy might be about, or at least, one of the important things in my therapy: getting in touch with my needs! For some people that’s no problem at all: they are quite aware what their needs are, but might have some other problem, or a difficulty in tolerating the frustration of needs.  I had been brought up to rein in my needs, hide them away or even pretend that they weren’t there: if there was one biscuit left on the plate I certainly would not take it.   So it was a big learning point for me that needs have to be known about, acknowledged, accepted and not batted away.  Only then can we make conscious choices about what to do with these...