Casebook: Resetting in mid stream
What happens when, in your forties, you realise something big has to change?
Barbara and Ros – having to confront big changes
In a previous post I have talked of Mike, who in his retirement had to make certain changes to how he understood himself and so how he could better build a life that worked. He had time to do this resetting as he had a strong story of a broadly successful working and family life to call on.
But what if you have reached a stage earlier than that – say in your late forties, when you realise that something big has to change? That was the case for Barbara and Ros. Both lived alone and were lonely and unfulfilled. Moreover, in dealing with this (or more accurately, failing to deal with this) they suffered chronically from depression which from time to time flared up into something much worse. This was the case for both of them.
Both were mentally exhausted and over dreaming and both were at their very limits.
Their situations on the face of it had different origins.
For Ros, it was a very aggressive suspiciousness – of risking letting anybody in close. This was in fact a very understandable way to have handled her life as a black teenager and young woman in her twenties – as she had been “betrayed” by her father who left home suddenly and then when she herself left home, by very difficult relationships with men, including being raped and physically abused. She still used sex as a means of dealing with relationships and was quite promiscuous but her subsequent experiences then only served to confirm her in her view that she could not trust anybody. And her lack of trust extended to women as well and despite having a reasonable career as a legal secretary was very much alone at work too.
For Barbara, the loneliness was much more obviously linked to a chronic lack of confidence, which in turn had been fuelled by unfortunate circumstances to ever establish herself. She had a history of failure at school and lacking parental support never found what she therefore greatly needed from teachers. She knew she was bright and could be very creative as a writer, but her potential was never realised. In fact it was worse than that – her life had become one of lowered expectations, both regarding the work she did and her chronic caution and fearfulness.
For both Ros and Barbara, their first desperate need was to find a way to be calmer – and by listening regularly to my Depression audio and understanding the role over dreaming and rumination in feeding their depression, both were significantly improved at their second session.
But thereafter, their progress diverged. While Ros continued to make real improvement, I’m afraid that Barbara remained stuck and rather lost. My feeling was that this reflected Ros’s much stronger resources compared to Barbara. Significantly Ros did have experiences of success and achievement in work and even relationships and as trance work cleared some of her older memories she could begin to change how she saw her life possibilities.
By contrast, Barbara’s lacked these and so it was very hard to either find or enhance resources. It was very sad and unfortunate as there seemed no way that Barbara could sustain her improvement as she could not find the means and capacity to make the changes that she yearned for – to find creative endeavours and share these in some meaningful way