Sue and I spent 7 years talking. I was allocated to her randomly, but as I’ve always believed, life has a way of bringing you the people you need.
We spoke by arrangement, every week at least, in a room that was cosy and dim in the winter, sticky and dim in the summer.
At first, I didn’t lie on the couch. I could only sit on the chair, avoiding eye contact as much as possible, trying to not let my foot jiggle, trying to to not flick my hair, touch my face constantly.
Together we unpicked the knots I held on to and found the dark spaces I hid in. Sometimes we said almost nothing. Other weeks conversation flowed freely. Over time she came to know my habits, remember the names of my sisters, notice the things I omitted. I noticed when she’d had her hair cut or was wearing a new pair of shoes but never said anything. It wasn’t really like that.
Patiently and lovingly, she sat with me, came to find me when I needed her to and pointed out the flaws in my thinking.
She had tears in her eyes the first time I visited the room after getting out of hospital. Things had been looking up. We’d thought the work was almost done. Instead, it just got more intense.
I told her when we began to try for a baby and I think we both knew it was the beginning of the end for our arrangement. She was wise enough to say it; I was too afraid to admit it. She laughed a kind of ironic laugh just three weeks later when I told her I was pregnant. Typically, it happened the first month we tried.
Our sessions finished by mutual agreement when I was 36 weeks pregnant and my feet were too swollen for me to travel anymore. I tried not to cry all the way home, wondering if I really could think for myself, in the way she had taught me, when there was no straightforward answer.
We had set just one goal for me, for once I became a mother. It’s simple to say, much harder to do. Most of all, I hoped to be able to hold on to reality. To be able to see and know what was true and what wasn’t.