Haz bean

August 16, 2017 at 11:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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My counsellor wants to demonstrate what we’re doing.

She fetches a cup, a plate, and a jar of coffee beans.

‘Smell these! Wonderful, isn’t it?’

It is.

She puts the plate on a low table.

And the cup on the plate.

‘This is the child’s mind.’

She pours beans into the cup.

‘When trauma occurs, the young mind can’t take it all in.’

Beans spill onto the plate.

‘When the brain is full, additional information is forced to go elsewhere.’

Beans skitter across the table.

Bounce onto the floor.

‘Each of these beans is a part of the child’s mind. Split off, but containing valuable information. Our task is to bring these back to the main brain.’

I get it.

I go home.

My wife asks how I went.

I want to show her.

We have no coffee beans, so I cast around for a substitute.

Corks.

I need a bigger cup and a bigger plate.

I’m faintly surprised I have more than enough corks with which to demonstrate.

I pour them and tell the tale.

They’re a lot bouncier than beans.

One launches off the kitchen bench.

It’s immediately snatched by our Jack Russell terrier, who capers off with it down the hall.

My wife gets the idea.

Next time, I tell the counsellor what happened.

She tries to stifle her laughter.

I assure her it’s OK.

All my medicos laugh.

When she regains her composure, she says that a dog running off with a cork is actually an excellent metaphor for a dissociated part.

I say I’m glad,

and that I greatly look forward to getting all my bits back.

We return to our work.

 

Pic by Roger Karlsson.


To keep me in coffee, you may wish to

Whatever the sum, I’ll toast your health.


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Steele-eyed span

June 24, 2017 at 10:04 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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In Year 5 or 6, there occurred one of the most corrosive incidents of my life.

I was in an experimental ‘open area’ – far removed from standard school rooms.

Several classes occupied a common ‘free-range’ space and we were given phenomenal liberty to learn as we pleased.

One day, a group of teaching students came to marvel at our set-up.

They wandered among knots of kids who were very much doing their own thing.

My thing at the time was cubits: small plastic cubes that connected in a kind of low-tech fischertecknic/LEGO way.

I could play with them alone for hours – and even took them home.

Yet I didn’t realise their educative value.

An earnest student teacher quizzed me about my model making, then offered to show me how the cubes could be used to grasp mathematics.

I wasn’t keen, but onlookers had gathered, so the student teacher went ahead.

He explained that 1 cube could be joined to 9 others to make a line of 10. He then joined 10 lines of 10 to make a plane of 100. For 3 x bonus points, he then showed how 10 planes could be assembled to make a cube of 1000.

Unfortunately, he had lost me at 5.

It wasn’t his fault. Looking back, I certainly wouldn’t have tried to engage a twitchy loner with autism.

After considerable effort, his enthusiasm finally waned as he realised I just wasn’t going to get it.

By this time, I was completely overstimulated by the exercise and freaked out by the observers.

I stumbled away muttering, ‘One times ten times ten times one times ten times … etc.’

That could have been the end of it, but Mrs Steele stepped in.

Having watched the botched interaction, she was livid I’d disrespected our guest.

She pursued me, span me round, knelt down and hissed at my face:

‘Paul Hassing:- You. Are. Miserable!!!’

I looked at her cold eyes, iron hair and lined (now frighteningly compressed) lips.

Her words shot straight into my heart.

Where they remain to this day.

When her fingers finally unclenched from my arm, I tottered off in a different direction, this time muttering, ‘I. Am. Miserable. I. Am. Miserable. I. Am. Miserable.’

And, after several 100 repetitions,

I believed it.

At my session last week, a new counsellor suggested a link between this experience and my childhood sexual abuse.

No-one has posited this before, but the years roughly match.

The counsellor said abused children often act up in class, drawing teacher ire.

And while I don’t think I was misbehaving per se, I feel her theory could have

merit.

It’ll be fascinating to see if EMDR therapy can finally draw this sword from my soul.

Thank you for reading.

Here is some suitably sad music to play us out.


To keep this tale fresh and strong, you may wish to

Whatever the sum, I’ll be filled with thanks.


 

 

 

 

 

Battle stars

June 15, 2017 at 8:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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If I seem a tad maudlin, it’s because I’m recording unpleasant vignettes with a view to putting them in their place via EMDR treatment, which starts next week.

The ultimate object of this game is to ‘normalise’ childhood sexual abuse memories. But let’s start with something a little lighter …

I was so taken with Pat Benatar’s Love is a Battlefield that I bought the 12-inch single.

On hearing me play it in the lounge room, dad informed me that:

  1. Love was not a battlefield (indeed, far from it).
  2. The lyrics were therefore stupid.
  3. The song thus had no merit.

I was disappointed at this assessment.

I had enthusiastically embraced his music collection.

From Bach, Oompah and Zorba to Nina Mouskouri, the Red Army Choir and Scottish Pipes, I thought I might have been a colleague. But I was merely an acolyte.

On reflection, dad’s perspective made sense.

When mum’s first husband died, dad rescued her (and her two boys) from a 1960s social and fiscal scrapheap.

She was thus forever in his debt.

He used to boast that, despite their long marriage, they’d never had an argument.

This was also likely true, as Mum never dared to say boo to him.

It took her ten years of faint, nuanced suggestion to replace our frayed carpet.

And almost as long to add a humble Vergola to our crumbling terrace.

Not really battlefield stuff.

In contrast, Mum said she quite liked Love Action by The Human League.

This was handy, as I played it until the groove nearly went through to the other side.

After her death, dad announced that he’d, ‘Loved mum but never been in love with her’.

I excused myself to punch out one of the five slatted window panes which, for almost half a century, had sat high in our toilet wall.

It was difficult to eat after that.

 

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