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Day five (again)

January 13, 2017

Fuck, it’s cold in the house. Fuck, I do not have enough wood in the shed to last the rest of the winter (never mind the luxury of having the fire going during the day). Fuck, I have to find – and buy – more wood. Fuck, my Visa bill arrived in the post yesterday: nearly $500, including the tow of my mangled Echo and the cost of the tune up and tire swap I had done on the Echo before it got mangled. Fuck, I’m going to have cash in an RRSP. Fuck.

Okay, enough with the negativity already. Let’s focus on the positive.

My friend Catherine is arriving tonight and will be staying for the weekend. That is a bloody good thing. I have salmon in the freezer to cook for dinner and I have a couple of bottles of good birthday appeal wine still in the rack. (God knows when I will ever be able to justify buying another bottle of Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc again, but that’s next week’s problem.)

The final session of the acting workshop last night was great fun and quite thought provoking. Lots of ideas to put into use in the rehearsals of my play, which is a fairly exciting prospect. (And, okay, let’s be honest, my enjoyment of the evening was increased by the fact that the workshop leader, having informed us as we began working in pairs on scenes, that one does not applaud in workshops, actually himself applauded after the second go at the scene I did with my partner. Pat on the back for me.)

So, as promised, more on yesterday morning’s group session.

Obviously there are layers of confidentiality and I am loath to say anything which in any way could identify any of the group members. Suffice to say there were six of us – perhaps not surprisingly all women – one of whom was an acquaintance whose presence surprised me. In my previous interactions with this woman she’d struck me as confident and competent. (Ha! No doubt exactly the same way most people see me. What a good show we can put on.)

If you asked me to pick the main feeling I had when the session was over, it would be relief. The relief of realising that, as much as I may feel as if it’s a struggle to get things done, others are struggling much more than I am. Relief seems like such a selfish word. I wish I could think of a better one, but, despite my alleged way with words, I can’t.

The session also made me rethink Monday’s entry in which I noted and bemoaned the lack of a “most important person” in my life – no parent, partner or child. Poor me, I am so alone.

I sat there yesterday and listened to the other women. I was one of two new people brought into the group. The other four know much more about the stories of the others. Knowing nothing myself, certain things were still immediately obvious. The source of one woman’s pain was her adult child. The source of pain for two others was clearly their husbands.

There really are worse things than being alone, knowing it is likely one will remain so for the rest of one’s life.

At the end of the session we were given two worksheets. One involved setting limits –learning to say no to people. The second involved “thought change process”, an exercise in recognising negative thoughts and attempting to turn them around. There was a chart on the back to be filled out (although not necessarily, I quickly checked, to share with the group at next month’s session):





This was the first thing that went through my head when I saw this chart  – and the reason I wanted to know if we were obliged to share with the group. Situation: Seeing a photo of myself. Negative thoughts: God, I’m ugly. Realistic, helpful thought: …  Nope. Nothing there. Complete absence of any helpful thought.

I had a bit more luck when I got home and looked at the chart again.

Situation: I haven’t been able to write fiction for years. Negative thoughts: I’ll never be able to write fiction again. Realistic, helpful thought: Actually, I may not have written  short story or started a novel in a long time, but I have written two one-act plays, so my creative juices really haven’t dried up.

There were two examples given, one of which I am going to have to include:

Adele gets criticised by her boss. She immediately thinks:

“This is terrible. She thinks I’m a real loser. She’ll put this in my record and she’ll be watching me closely. I just can’t mess up again.” She feels panicky and broods over the incident all evening.

If instead, Adele slowed down her thinking and paid attention to her negative thoughts she would see that these thoughts are not helpful. She may then decide it would be more helpful to apologise to her boss, carry on working, and make more effort to concentrate. She could then set aside the incident once it was over.

Okay, I know this example is designed for someone who is struggling with the instinctive negativity of depression. I get what the point is. Nevertheless it made me smile, because I simply could not imagine being in this situation. Perhaps I’ve been lucky (or just good at the jobs – and bosses – I’ve had), but I have few memories of being criticised by a boss and a clear memory of my instinctive reaction on those rare occasions: Fuck you.

Anyway, anyway…

A bit more tidying up to do in preparation for Catherine’s arrival tonight. A rehearsal this afternoon and the opportunity to put into practice the lessons learnt in the workshop. Good times ahead, at least for a couple of days.

I shall wish you a happy weekend, dear reader. If my choices for the next two mornings are writing a diary entry or talking to my friend, my friend wins every time.

See you on Monday.

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