Individual Counseling

 

Pasadena | Ventura

 

If you’re like most people, you feel a little anxious or even uncertain about individual counseling, but you know that you want your life to be different. You keep doing the same things over and over, and it seems so hard to change in the ways that you want. It doesn’t help that all of your hurt stays tucked away and out of view, since you can’t imagine telling anyone about how hard it is. You feel deeply alone, and you feel so confused and lost.

 

When I was in high school, I had a wonderful creative writing class in which I first encountered a poem entitled “Not Waving but Drowning” by British poet Stevie Smith:

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

 

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

 

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

“Not Waving but Drowning” is the most popular and well-known of Stevie Smith’s work for a good reason, as the trenchant feelings of sadness and isolation that the poem describes are familiar to so many. We can empathize with the dead man, as we have often been in the icy, menacing grip of loneliness ourselves. Most of us have been “much too far out” and have struggled to swim amidst feelings that we feel will surely overwhelm us.

 

The great calamity that the poem speaks to is the haunting isolation that we experience when we’re too far out and no one notices. We survive our pain, hiding it as we always have, perhaps by larking or fooling around, like the dead man in the poem. Whatever the pain is, we’ve learned to expect that no one will get it, that it will only disrupt or destroy relationships we really need. Much of the pain is so intolerable that it’s banished from our awareness, and the pain we do feel we dare not talk about. So even those we care about may think we’re waving when instead we’re suffering silently. The deadness we feel is heavy, unbearable.

 

A Way Forward Is Possible

 

If you feel like you’re drowning, there is hope. Through the unique power of human understanding, feelings that are so frightening and unbearable can be known, experienced, and borne. Their powerful grip can be loosened, allowing them to be integrated into the rich tapestry of your feelings and experiences. The fear that once governed the pain, that entrenched you in loneliness, can diminish with time so that you can live your life with more freedom and agency.

 

Let’s Talk – Set Up Your Free Consultation

 

If you’re reading this, then perhaps you’re considering therapy as a possible approach to your current concerns. The next step is to sit down with me and give it try, which might mean talking about some fears or questions you may have, especially if you’re new the process of therapy. During a free 15-minute consultation, I’ll attempt to answer all of your questions about myself and how we might work together, including concerns about the fee and using your insurance policy.

 

It would be a privilege for me to meet with you and begin to understand your present concerns. I serve the communities of Pasadena, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, Arcadia, Duarte, and Ventura. Please call me at (805) 256-3497 or email me at jmast@awakeningsrelationalcounseling.com to schedule your initial session or a free 15-minute consultation.