Abuse can come in many forms. If other people’s treatment of you harms or hurts…
…and the screw turns again. It was novel, scary, and – even though it shouldn’t have been – somehow a little exciting back in March. Because, unless you were a time traveller and remembered the Spanish “flu”, 1st Lockdown 2020 was out of everybody’s experience.
Yet now, confronted by a biting January, and with February lurking viciously in the freezer, the midwinter looks as bleak as it has ever done. This enervating pandemic is gnawing into our collective spirit, its acolyte Social Distancing, gouging out the most pain.
Yet remember, it is physical distancing we should be avoiding; not social distancing! We need to be as socially bonded as humanly possible right now. Be this via online video platforms, or waving mugs of tea over a wall, or walking, six feet apart, along a strangely quiet road, we should be mixing with friends. And there it is, ‘friends’, the magic word.
Somebody with whom we can talk, listen, share stories. No matter that the tales are the same, that “what did you do…?” elicits carbon copy responses. They feel it too. Friends are as miserable, as confused, as secretly enjoying themselves as we are. And by Huw Edwards’ sanguine, news bulletin smile, that is a good thing to know. To live in somebody’s confidence, and to invite them into yours, fires up your well-being as if it were the engine of the Flying Scotsman.
In the whole human condition, little is as important as friendship. How much better are good times when we remember them with those we love. How much lighter is a burden when it is shared? By what quantum is fear reduced when you face the dark with a friend?
Make the most of your friends. Interact frequently. If you do this in an online world, so what? If your friend revels in the name of Doctor Who and knows you as Lara Croft, that’s OK. You can still have a meaningful e-relationship with plenty of solace and warmth. Friends of all sorts are brilliant therapists.
Yet like individual lights picked out by a satellite, the friendless make an immense pointillist canvass. Too many are indeed socially distanced, hordes have nobody with whom to share confidence. Some, of mountain goat hardiness, will not be unduly concerned by such isolation. John Donne isn’t entirely correct, a few of us make pretty good islands. Although right now, even some of this number are seeing shorelines erode spectacularly.
People who look for skilled help when it is needed, deserve only credit. From the Samaritans down, there are decent, thoroughly trained people who will listen to you, whom you can trust and with whom you can fill silos of confidence
If you are paying for this help, then make sure of two things. First, your chosen practitioner should have at least a degree related to the therapy you are undertaking. A diploma is never enough for your incredibly complicated mind; indeed, it is frequently a fig leaf for the charlatan and well-meaning incompetent. Second, run a chemistry test, make sure you feel confident and happy in conversation. Do you want this person beside you in the trenches or not?
Any therapist has as much chance of replacing a soulmate as of replacing your favourite James Bond. However, a well-chosen therapist is about as good a replacement friend as you can find. Here is a trustworthy professional who will listen, put you first, and understand your perspective. In other words, somebody with whom to share the burden of lockdown, or any other sort of down.
Whoever your friends may be, from Doctor Watson to Doctor Who, make the most of them. They feed your soul, warm your heart, and improve your life.
By Dr. Craig Knight