A Tale for Dark Days: “everything will be alright”

One day, many years ago when I worked as a freelance designer, I found myself in a familiar place of having no work and as a result worrying about the future. That week a number of creative projects had fallen through and there didn’t seem to be much work on the horizon. As the weeks ticked by and money was quickly running out I was getting increasingly anxious. 

Being freelance, I’d been through this situation many times before. So you’d think, by now, I’d be familiar enough with the scene and therefore more relaxed about it, right? Alas not, and despite many years of psychological exploration and meditation practice I would find myself back in this same place of dread and worry. It repeatedly felt as if all the tools, techniques and wisdom I’d learned over the years just flew out the window and were forgotten. Each time I’d turn my life into one huge internal drama with fantasies about never working again, running out of money and losing everything including my mental health. It was an unreal horror story but felt as if I just couldn’t help but torture myself in this way.

However, on this particular day I’m describing, something drove me to sit down and attempt to meditate. All morning I’d been fretting about not being able to cope and as a result the stress upon stress had been rapidly escalating. But even as I sat down and closed my eyes they would fly open again, my mind racing and I’d be on the verge of getting up and ploughing on with frantic emails in a desperate bid to drum up some work. 

After this happening a couple of times I suddenly heard a voice inside myself say, “BE STILL”. It was so powerful and distinct that I immediately complied and a sudden calmness descended through which I was able to quieten my mind for the next hour or so. During that time, as I sat on the floor with eyes calmly closed, I heard the mail being believed but felt no pressing urge to retrieve it.

Eventually I got to my feet, now feeling settled and clear, and collected the post, which included a small brown envelope with my address in a handwritten scrawl. Inside was a plain white postcard with nothing on it. However, on closer inspection I noticed, embossed within the centre of the card, the words “everything will be alright”. There was no other information and no return address. I was astounded and the card, along with the internal instruction, stayed with me for days and facilitated in me a deep steadiness. 
Within a week or two I had more design work and, as per usual, the stress of the previous weeks had vanished. 

It later transpired that a close friend of mine, who was also a freelance designer, had been doing a print making workshop the weekend before my stressful episode and, having made several embossed cards like this, she sent them out to a number of friends.

Irrespective of the reasons, I felt as if the universe had, internally and through the actions of my friend, reached out to me. It was as if it had put its hand on my shoulder to calm me down. Synchronistically it was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. I am, by nature, very curious and open-minded about the mysteries of the world and how we influence our lived experience, consciously or unconsciously. Had I not I may have discarded the experience as mere fluke. 

So is there an explanation for this coincidence? The truth is I don’t know and, for me, it doesn’t really matter. What’s most important is that, firstly, I paid attention and secondly, that it really helped to ease my fears. To say I know and can rationalise what happened removes the magic and awe of the experience 

Since that day I’ve remained self-employed and whilst, in the meantime, I’ve changed career I’ve still found myself in that space between work and projects. Sometimes similar fears and agitations have come up but never as acute. During those moments I’ve kept my eyes and ears open for similar signs, but non have materialised. It’s as if that previous experience, as marked as it was, etched itself into my life. I’m taken back to that memory every time panic and stress threatens to overwhelm me and when life suddenly seems uncertain.

The collection of words that form “everything will be alright” is potentially the most powerfully reassuring sentence we can hear when spoken by someone we trust during times of fear or sadness. So for me, It’s interesting to consider that those same loving and supportive words may also be available to me at all times and in unexpected forms. I don’t need to buy into any defined mysticism or beliefs it’s just a simple case being open to it and then if I choose to pay attention.

As to whether I’m able to believe and fully trust in it – now that’s quite another story.

For other articles, posts and ways in which to support yourself during difficult time check out –psychotherapy4london.co.uk

Couples Therapy / Relationship Counselling in Central London

How I work

My Counselling studio is based right in the centre of London, in two locations – Bloomsbury, close to Covent Garden and Shoreditch, within the heart of the city. This makes it easy to reach for most people living and working in and around the city.

The first session is for us to get to know each other and check that I’m the right therapist to suit your needs. It’s important that you both feel comfortable working with me.

In my work with couples I have a coaching approach, which is very different to how I would work with individuals. I see my job as coaching couples into new ways of communicating and expressing themselves that serves both sides equally. No one teaches us how to be in a relationship. We learn most from our parents or carers who may also have struggled. Therefore, couples therapy is partly and educational process in which you can learn new ways in which to relate to one another.

Whilst there are important elements to our work that involves each individual, the focus of our work together is the relationship itself. This, I describe as the invisible space that exists between you, co-created by the two of you and unique to your relationship and I aim to help you understand this space better.

At the heart of my work is addressing a – ‘loss of connection’. Whether this is with each other or with yourself, my work is often about finding ways to reconnect. Part of this is the importance of ‘mirroring’. This simple tool, which I apply in many different ways, facilitates clear expression of thoughts and feelings and, most importantly, active listening. ‘Listening’ and ‘being heard’ are two vital components in getting back into connection and creating a safer relationship space.

All individuals within a couple are encouraged to get a physical journal for the purposes of therapy. This is so that you can write down the various ideas and techniques I’ll be giving you to practice in between sessions. It is also used to write down the content of the sessions afterwards so that you have a record of our work together. It’s also useful to record things like dreams and ideas or incidents that occur between sessions.

I work with both gay and heterosexual couples and I do believe that our relationship, however challenging they may be at times, offer us an opportunity to understand ourselves better and to heal the disappointments of the past. We are all social creatures longing for better and more fulfilling connection and therapy can certainly help facilitate this.