Why I am not a ‘health professional’ Anthony Stadlen


Why I am not a 'health professional' Anthony Stadlen

ealisation and discovery of the possibility to stop and stare, mouth open, in the

moment, involved, alive.

Client 4

I went into therapy because sex was painful with my partner whom I felt I loved.

I wanted help with that. However, what I wanted altered with time, and became,

more and more clearly, to change my life.

In the first session I talked and talked, about childhood mostly. I felt wonderful;

felt my therapist was wonderful, and couldn’t wait to get to the second session, as I

felt so ‘listened to’. But the second session was a slap in the face: he seemed to

have changed. He asked no questions, he seemed disinterested, he said hardly

anything and I felt terrible.

Part of what helped me go back, and continue to go back, was that my feeling

about my therapist was different inside and outside the sessions. Inside, I felt he

despised and ignored me. Outside, I increasingly felt that he was to be trusted, he

was good and that, somehow, he was my lifeline. So I stayed, and battled with these

feelings in order to speak at all.

We talked about the fact that my mother ignored me almost totally. I took a long

time to accept the enormity of this, and even longer to give up hope that she would

notice and love me. At the start I blamed myself for being an unloving, miserable

child, for my dread on waking every morning, that everything about me was wrong,

for not being able to relax with people or talk. We talked about my memories of

listening to others talking on buses, especially mothers and daughters, and my

marvelling at how people could just talk to each other, easily. We talked about how

my middle brother and I had believed that we were different, that there was no one

else like us in the world.

We talked about how I had been my mother’s second emotional support (my

eldest brother being her first), so that I ‘saw’ her and her pain, but she never saw

me. About how, when I started to protect myself from her neediness, she told me

that I did not and would never be able to love. We talked about the fact that I felt

that I did not exist; that I felt empty inside and worthless.

We talked about how I sought out relationships to repeat the pattern with my

mother, in which I could play out wanting to be seen and recognised and loved for

myself, with people who would or could never do so. And, even if the people were

able, I made sure that I offered sex but not myself, as I believed that no one could

want me for myself but only for what they could get.

I was aware that my parents’ relationship was sexual but devoid of love or

respect. We talked about my separation of love and sexual pleasure, as one of the

ways that I stopped good relationships developing.

We talked about how I sought unconditional love from adult relationships, and,

if this was not forthcoming, as it could never be, I rejected instead.

We talked about how, through these self-hating patterns, I lost myself again and


We talked about fear; about how I had always been frightened of the outside

world. I increasingly realised that this fear stemmed from what had been inside my


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