“This wasn’t about overcoming one’s limits, but acknowledging and living with them.” – Darren Shan, “The Birth of Killer”
This sentence hit a chord within me, as I realised that part of my counselling process has been about recognising and accepting the limits that are part of who I really am, and recognising and dispelling limits that have been placed there as a result of other peoples actions.
I’m not talking about limits as in skills, talents and so on.
I am talking about limits that define you as a person. Limits such as ‘you are not …’, limits that have been imposed on us by other people, people who think by getting us to fit into their image of who we should be they are helping us.
An example of this is that from a young age I was told that I was no good at art, that my brothers/sisters were much better than me, and I shouldn’t waste my time even thinking about taking art courses in school. I’ve since found out that I really do have a talent for art, quirky as it is, it is there and it is me.
Another example is the flute. I wanted to play flute when I started secondary school and we were played the young person’s guide to the orchestra. It took me a couple of weeks to pluck up the courage to ask if I could learn, by which time all the flutes and flute lessons had been allocated and the only instruments and lessons left were ‘cello and double bass. I chose to learn the ‘cello as I really wanted to play an instrument. I went home and told my mother about the flute and her words were, ‘Oh, for goodness sake, you’d never be able to play the flute anyway – you have the wrong shaped mouth’. Sympathy? Empathy? From my mother? Never!
Anyway, a few years ago I had a phone call from a dear friend who told me I was to phone a number he gave me and I was to get a ticket for that night’s concert. He wouldn’t tell me who it was, but that I was to call him back when I had one. I duly did that, found myself speaking to someone at St David’s Hall in Cardiff, purchasing a ticket (one had been returned for an otherwise sold out concert!) and then asking who it was for. I found out it was for Jethro Tull!
I rang my friend back, all excited and went to the concert. I was absolutely transfixed by it all. And, as Ian Anderson did things with a flute (musical things!) that were absolutely amazing, my love the flute came rushing back to me … and I was determined to play. That very night, when I returned home, I went online and bought a flute, a decent quality flute which was on sale, as well as a tutor book or three.
The flute arrived a couple of days later, then the tutor books. And I’ve not stopped practising and playing my flute ever since! I did buy a better flute fairly soon after I realised that I could play, one with French keys and a silver head-joint. And I still love to play!
My only regret is that it took me around 30 years of my life to discover this!
Counselling, particularly recently, has been about finding the limits that I have placed upon myself as a result of the way that other people have spoken to me and treated me throughout my life. Then, looking for the evidence that refutes them and replacing them with a truer image of myself. It’s about being an individual, being true to myself, and not trying to be something different just to please another person, as I have done since a very young age. I’d not expect anyone else to change who they are for me (though our contact with others does change us in some way), and anyone who would want me to be something I am not in order to make them happy isn’t the right kind of person to have a place in my life.
There’s more to it than this, but that’s more than a tad personal, and I would not be comfortable sharing it with just anyone!