Marilyn Mckenzie Counselling in Bank, Angel Islington and Forest Hill

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Feb 18

The affair

Each week we will look at one of 3 people's experience of being involved in an affair. It includes the person who has had the affair, the other woman and the wife.

There is no right or wrong. It's just looking at the different perspectives yo show that all 3 are worthy of compassion. Take a look and let me know what you think.

In week two of the trilogy we look at the wife.

I am the wife who is cheated on

I love him. I always knew I did. When we first met I knew he was for me. I knew he would be able to raise a family with me and that we would grow old together. And we were amazing.
 Other couples would be envious of the relationship we had.

Maybe we got complacent, or maybe all couples all through this? I knew my feelings had changed when we were eating breakfast one day and I looked at him and I felt that I just don't like him anymore. We use to talk about any and everything but now it's like we have nothing to say to each other. We like different things and we always had our own interests and hobbies but somewhere along the lines we spent less and less time with each other.

Even though I don't like him I do still love him. Maybe it's because I don't want to divorce or perhaps I'm scared of being single again with two children. We have a house together and I don't want to date again. I didn't like it before and I'm sure I wouldn't like it now.  And how would our children take it. Would they be angry with me for ruining our family?

I went off sex with him a while ago. It's always the same thing. I can tell you exactly how it will be done and when it will finish. Always on a Thursday morning and always boring. I would never tell him that as I don't want to hurt his feelings. 

He would ask about it but I would just say that i had a problem. When I asked my mum about it she just said that this is what marriage is like.
But there has to be more than this?

He doesn't ask about sex now. Now we are like strangers who live together. I notice he is trying with his appearance lately and spends more time away from home.  Most women would be upset or suspicious by this but im not. The less time he is here the better.

I just don't know what to do next. I feel trapped.

The other woman.

This is going to be part of a series where I will work through the situation that is posted and I encourage you to do the same. Remember that although this is my imagination at play that we all have feelings so bare this mind when responding.

I am the other woman

I wasn't thinking about who would get hurt when I started this. You could argue that I'm selfish for thinking that way but it's his responsibility to worry about his family, not mine.  I made no promise to them to honour and obey, till death do us part was nothing to do with me. I just want to be happy

I didn't even feel guilty. Sounds terrible doesn't it, that I acted without a care in the world? Maybe it was because I knew it was purely physical. There was no falling in love or let's leave whoever and start a life together. What we wanted was sex. Pure animal attraction. We met at work.  The attraction wasn't instant but i knew when it was there. I fancied him long before he fancied me but due to low self esteem would never of made the first move. I didn't know that he was married or had kids. I just thought he was nice looking.  When did I catch his eye? I was walking through our office and he gave me a smile. A devious smile.  The I want to f you smile.  And I knew then I wanted him. Maybe it was just ego, or perhaps I was bored but it made my days alot more interesting.

A few days after we had a meeting together with another person and it was obvious that we had an attraction to each other. The other person might as well not been there.  Then he would back off and I would back off but it was all unspoken. Then one day while playing the game of I want to be around you/ I can't be around you, I decided that I wanted to have the affair.  At this point I knew you were married with two kids, that you were about to go on holiday.  I was single at the time and just wanted sex. I thought you wanted the same.

I wasn't sure how I was going to do it but I knew I was going too. I thought about being with you the disabled toilets (more room) and doing stuff with each other only to return to the office as if nothing happened and it excited me. I didn't care that it would never be serious. Youre a cheater! Why would I want to date you seriously anyway.

It could get messy.  Your wife could find out and expose me in the office or we could fall out and that would make work uncomfortable.  But, I just didn't care. I wanted you and I was going to have you.  But I also don't want to get hurt.

Part 2 next week

Jan 18

Dating: Repeating old patterns

It's often when we break up with someone when we realise all the things that were wrong with the relationship, "why did we choose that person in the first place", or "maybe there is something wrong with me/ them" can be our internal voice.  When we pick our partners and they let us down we might wonder whether there is a pattern forming. Or we might blame all of the opposite/same sex (depending on your sexuality). We might start to distrust others and become a little bitter which in turn affects the next relationship. 

We can't control what other people do in relationship as much as there are thousands of books out there telling you otherwise.  All relationships are unique in the same way every individual is. What might work for your friend/cousin/sister/brother might not work for you. All we can do is pick wisely, be ourselves and hope that we meet someone who fits with us. 

What I have often found is that who we think we are, how others perceive us and what we are like in relationship can differ widely. We might think we are openly loving people when actually we are quite reserved and display that, and if you're happy that way then that's ok. Sometimes when in relationship we want the other to like us so much that we try to change who we are.  This is problematic because if we are inauthentic then how can another possibly be our fit.

Alot of what we learn about relationships is pre verbal which means that it is by what we have felt and experienced as a child that will leave an imprint on us. We either accept our version of normal or reject it if we see better alternative ways of living.

If we grew up around violence then we can get stuck in thinking this is ok and overlook some of the mixed messages and manipulation that often comes at the beginning of an abusive relationship because
A. We are trying to fit in and be loved
B. We have the imprint that this is how people show love.

If you grew up with a cold and unloving household you may feel this is normal so you may partner up with someone similar and yearn for the love we never experienced and your partner may be the same. It's not uncommon for people to repeat the pattern that gives similar feelings we had in childhood. We often do this with the knowing aim of trying to fix it without realizing that unconsciously we are so use to the feeling, no matter how uncomfortable, that when we meet someone different it's so alien to us, we can't accept it. Have you ever heard "s/he's too nice" or "there's no spark".  These are often terms used when we are going through the motions to reject something new and uncomfortable.

So what do you do?

Well, the first thing is to forgive yourself as many people do this, you are not alone. What is most important is that you begin to heal from your past. This is a life long journey as we constantly evolve and can need some support.

Get to know who you really are. What are your likes and dislikes. Not in the hope of meeting someone just like you but to appreciate what it is you bring to a relationship.  Think about your other relationships and what you want to keep and do without.

If you have traits that you feel is really holding you back, ask yourself why did you develop this? What is helpful about it now?
What would you lose by changing it? And what would you gain once it has changed?
When doing this focus on you alone. What does this mean for you as you want to be congruent if you change things.
Then you can make a decision whether to work on this.

Then when you are ready, Date.  Date numerous different people. Do this to find out what is out there that you like.

Try to be authentic. With feelings, some people you can be naked, some you'd wear a bathing suit and others you need full body armour. That doesn't mean being inauthentic but, if you need your body armour then something is wrong. It could be because it's uncomfortable or that it's the same as before. Trust your instincts and find out why.

Don't be too surprised that your other relationships change in the process as I have often found it's not just one area of your life where your relationships haven't given you the fulfilment you desire. If you're happy with the way you're developing and growing emotionally they will have to get use to it.

See dating as practice and good luck.

Dec 17

What happened when I went to therapy.

Initially I went to my therapist to lose weight. Someone I knew loosely had just completed training on hypnotherapy to do with both addictions to food and smoking.  At the time I was a size 20 and smoking 20 cigs a day.  This was about 10 years ago.

Well, I've lost the weight and no longer smoke but we never got round to the hypnotherapy.  So what have I been doing for the last 10 years?

My addictions were symptoms not causes. I was deeply unhappy and struggling to cope.  I "forgot" to mention during the assessment my binge drinking, that I self harmed, that I was often in fantasy land rather then trying to fix my reality, that my relationships were going nowhere and that I was feeling suicidal often.  So giving me hypnotherapy at the beginning really wouldn't have done much for me. Luckily I had a therapist who could see through all my bullshit and rationalizing as by then I was extremely good at that.

You see, she wasn't my first therapist. She was my fourth.
My first referral was from the GP. I had a terrible experience with them.  The first one was ok, then suddenly I wasn't seeing her anymore but a new woman who was horrendous and at one point while I was crying, she laughed!
Funnily enough I still saw her afterwards because "I didn't want to be rude"!

The third was lovely and I saw her at the beginning of my training to become a therapist. She was also a trainee and I was making progress in being more assertive. I knew things had changed because all of a sudden when I said no, everyone thought I was selfish!  But it was overwhelming. I would burst out crying at work, on my way to work, anywhere really. I was advised to try something new. 

So I tried my current therapist. They say the devil knows their own, she saw right though me!  She was gentle as we unpacked more and more of my stuff. You see, I couldn't loose my coping mechanisms until I:
A. Had something healthy to replace it with
B. Accepted myself warts and all, Including why I developed the maladaptive patterns in the first place

I had lost weight before but mainly through starvation or purging (this was another thing I hadn't mentioned) so I knew I could do it but, of course the weight comes back and i felt even worse than before!

My therapist taught me how to look at myself in the mirror after a shower and not feel disgusted or ashamed.  Shame never helped me in life, ever!
She also taught me that it's ok to not be perfect, the angel or strong one everyone expects you to be. How to let go of toxic people in my life.  That being myself is enough. And then the weight just dropped off, the drinking reduced, the self harm became less frequent and I found new ways to sooth. But most of all i became less angry and more vocal about my needs, something I had never done before. 

I wouldn't be the therapist I am today without my experiences and the support of those who helped me.  Even the terrible therapist taught me how not to be, but I always learn something.

So I guess the message is, when going into therapy you sometimes don't know what will come out. But if you're willing and your therapist is capable then the exploration  can be amazing and rewarding.

And the cigs?
Well, I use a vape!

Nov 17

Tis the season to be jolly, or is it?

As we approach the holiday season and we start to see the tree’s, light’s and an array of present buying it is easy to forget others for whom Christmas is a time of deep distress. If you have no family or are estranged from close ones, then surviving when everyone appears to be happy can compound that you are not part of the “happy” group.
Suicides in the UK remain in the thousands each year and have increased in some areas. The following was taken from the Office for National Statistics [ONS] website.

Around three-quarters of all suicides in 2016 in Great Britain were male.

In Great Britain, there were 3.4% fewer suicides registered in 2016 than in 2015; this equates to 5,668 in 2016, a decrease from 5,870 deaths in 2015.

Compared with registration year 2015, the English rate has fallen a significant amount, the Welsh rate has fallen slightly and the Scottish rate has risen a small amount.

In 2016, the South West had the highest suicide rate for any English region at 11.2 per 100,000 people, whilst London had the lowest at 7.8 per 100,000 people.

For deaths registered in 2016 in Great Britain, persons aged 40 to 44 had the highest age-specific suicide rate at 15.1 per 100,000 – this age group also had the highest rate among males at 23.7 per 100,000; the age group with the highest rate for females was 50 to 54 at 8.1 per 100,000.

The most common suicide method in Great Britain in 2016 was hanging.
The commons reasons given by the Samaritans for people committing suicide were the following:

Personality and Psychological factors – Natural predisposition for mental ill health

Masculinities – Men being taught to be strong and silent and therefore are not easily able to express when they are in emotional turmoil.

Relationship breakdown – because the ages are often between 40-44, this is a time where there would be mortgages, children and perhaps a lot of investment in the relationship.

Social Disconnectedness – Often Men do not keep up with their frienships as well as women do as they get older and can find themselves quite lonely, especially after a relationship breakdown.

Men in mid-life – This is due to their fathers being quite traditionally silent and stoic whereas their sons would be more emotionally expressive and not being able to find the balance.

Social and Economic position – The perceived idea of what you should have achieved by this point in life.
This indicates that men during their early 40’s are at increased risk of suicides and even more so if they are separated, lonely and financially deprived. This is not to say that women do not commit suicide however, males are 5 times as likely to do so [ONS].
So what can be done.
If you are thinking of suicide it is important that you call 999 or you speak to your GP as soon as possible. It can feel embarrassing and you may feel that you do not want to cause any trouble but, the GP should be glad that you have reached out for help as many do not.
Having a support network around can be essential. Where you feel that you have no-one then there are support groups out there where other people like yourself can get help. This can be daunting especially if you suffer with anxiety but if you can get there, then that is a great achievement in itself. If you cannot bear to do this, then social networks are brilliant at keeping you connected to others when you do not feel able to leave the house but, being physically in the presence of another can be more beneficial.
Where you do have old friends that you have lost contact with, then maybe text or e-mail possibly even call to say hi and how are they. Timing is crucial so picking a time where they might be at work or too late in the evening won’t get a good response. Unless you have fallen out with someone they are generally always happy to hear from old friends.
If you are using drugs or alcohol then contacting your local drug and alcohol service (Ask Frank) can support you if your use has got out of hand. Most services run groups also which is again another way to connect to people.
Maleness is subjective. The way sons are raised is often very different to daughters. There is an expectation that you need to be strong and masculine and hard. But the reality is that no-one feels strong all the time. We all (without exception) have moments of vulnerability and this includes even the most perceived strongest of men. It is difficult to change the habit of a lifetime in regards to what you think it takes to be a man but challenging this view is important. If we don’t speak about our issues then feeling alone and isolated can bring huge problems.
Ask yourself

Is it ok to cry, and if not why not?

If I felt vulnerable who could I talk to?

If I felt suicidal who would be the person I would call to help talk me out of it?

Who am I close to?

Other than my partner (if you have one) who is my closest friends and how often do I keep in touch?

What are my realistic plans for 2018 and what would I like to experience?

And if I am going to be lonely through the holidays could I help out by volunteering somewhere or is there anywhere I could go and eat with people I might never normally meet.

Have I ever thought about seeking psychological support around anything I am going through?
If you are thinking of suicide please contact 999. If you are worried about the holiday period and have a reoccurring thought about suicide but you have made no plans as yet to do it, please call your GP asap and/ or the Samaritans on 116 123 the number is free to call and available 24 hours a day.

Lets talk about Sex - Sept 17

Sex is an important part of life yet people often do not speak about it with any real depth. Many couples and those who have casual relationships find their sex lives fulfilling but for others, it can be difficult to discuss what you enjoy and what turns you off.

Sometimes the sex we prefer seems over the top or maybe quite vanilla to someone else but it is important to know how best to navigate what gives you pleasure and communicate this to the other person.

Our views about sex are generally formed from a young age. If you think about the words spoken and actions taken about sex from the adults around you when you were a child and how much of that you may have bought into your adult life, it can give you some clues about some of the decisions you make in your partnerships. This could be whether you only have sex in a relationship, that sex is unspoken or dirty or maybe that sex is something you give to receive love or care they all helped you become the sexual being you are today. The idea of sex and what it means can be rebelled against or conformed to. What can also happen is that these views can cause problems when your sex life becomes unfulfilling or you may find yourself having sex but not receiving the care you hoped for.

Seeing a therapist about your sex life can change that. Whether you want to have more enjoyable sex casually or to spice up your relationship it can be helpful to discuss ways in which to be more aware of the messages you received at a young age and work on ways to improve the sex you are having in a non-judgemental and open way.

Choosing the right therapist to discuss your sex life is important. You want to be able to be open without fear that the therapist will clutch their pearls in disgust but instead is sensitive to your needs and views.

So whether it is to add something more to your sex life or to look at why you're having copious amounts of sex but really want connection and intimacy, find a therapist that you feel can allow you to explore what is going on with you and possibly support you to make the changes you want.

Finding Love - Oct 17

Who doesn’t want to be loved? Historically, meeting a new love partner was more about being at the right place, at the right time, meeting each other, liking each other and possibly loving each other. However, it seems with the increase in use of social media that there is a lot more choice on offer to people looking for love, friendship or companionship. Could this be one of the reasons why there are so much more single people now than ever before? Are we to choosy? And what can be done to support people finding a loving relationship in the current climate of social media’s influence?

Well, the first thing to remember is that most people want to feel loved and to give love. Some people feel and give love in different ways, but you want to meet the person who will give and feel love in a way that makes you both happier. So this means learning from past mistakes in the hope of not repeating them but, also accepting that there is love out there but you may have to seek it out. This moves you from a position of feeling as though you're living in a past hurt to being hopeful about your future.

We cannot escape the huge part social media plays in our lives at present. So why not use it to your advantage! It is scary if you have never done it before. You can feel quite vulnerable and exposed which is why you should follow the guidelines that most websites have around keeping your details and yourself safe. But apart from that it can be wonderfully liberating. You get to meet a number of people whom you may never have met in other circumstances because you would never be in the right time or place to meet them. It will open your eyes to the richness that dating can bring. The excitement and butterflies that come from the waiting to meet someone new. Will you like them, will they like you? If going for a meal, what can you eat that won’t get stuck in your teeth!

It can be helpful to look at dating almost like a round of interviews where you both see if you are right for each other, with every meeting taking you closer and closer. Of course not every person you meet will rock your world and sometimes that can be difficult to accept however, with every date that went wrong, it may take you to someone that will hopefully feel right. Who wants to be with someone who’s not right for them? Try to view it as a process of elimination! Every dating experience can teach you something, so let your learning journey begin!

Alternatively if you would rather stick to traditional methods of dating then there is always the option to try to be at the right place at the right time. Do I make it sound too easy? Well I’ll let you into a secret that someone once told me: “You would never find body lotion in a shoe shop!”.


Well I guess what the advice-giver was saying was that in order to be in the right place at the right time you need to decide the qualities that are important to you and then think about where would that special be who would also enjoy these type of activities. Then you get to kill two birds with one stone, you get to enjoy your activity of choice and potentially meet someone new with similar interests to your own.

Finding support to meet a partner can sometimes help. When discussing new relationships with friends, it can be tempting for these friends to inadvertently tell you how they would deal with the situation. There are a few problems with that:
They often wouldn't take their own advice
They only know what you have told them which may not be the whole story
They probably care about you a great deal and want you to be happy but, what makes you happy might not be the same for them
They come from their own perspective and their advice might change depending on their previous experience.

Speaking to a therapist is different in the following ways:
We are impartial
Although we want the best for our clients, it doesn't mean we wont challenge you
You have the opportunity to say anything you would like and we will support you to make the best decision for you!

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