So she sits there, with her scraped-back hair and her scooped-out cheeks, and her pale, pale skin, reeking intelligence and rigour. And her eyes assess me as I sigh and weep with frustration, her pupils two fiery pins. And then she begins to talk, and it's like... nectar, it's like honey, it's like drip feeding me hope, and the pieces of myself I have shot round the room during the previous half hour she gathers up with her flaming intellect and determined, life-affirming stance, and reflects back to me, showing me myself and where I have come to, and who I might be now, and I discover that it is really not such a very bad picture of a life, after all.
There is a chance, I say then, after my earlier raging about where the Bim and I currently find ourselves, that I am blaming him for everything - even for things that cannot possibly be his fault, like going to bed too late so that I am always tired; like not, just not, being able to write... In fact, most of what I am frustrated about is not his fault, I say - but it's easy to blame him, isn't it, he has been so very blameable of late, there has been so much wrong to lay at his door.
And she hears this, this odd, deeply incisive person before me, and she runs with it, and she knows before I do that my confession is the turning point of our session - and again before I know it she has led me to find an image to work with, to return to when I need it, which will enable me to sit down before my computer - this very night! - and for fifteen minutes allow myself to concentrate on what I most want to re-connect with, but have been unable even to approach for months - my writing life.
She talks of 'essence' - of Latin words - of the roots of things. How it is to be found in that word 'concentrate'. She says When I think of essence I think of perfume and she encourages me to find the concentrated essence of a delicious scent - in my home, or at a store - and meditate on its concentrated nature, and remember that it is this state I am seeking to emulate when I give time each day, no matter how short, to my chosen passion.
She says no wonder you have been unable to write, you have been, literally, scatterbrained - your being blown to the far corners by the fireworks of the last six months. You are rescuing a marriage; you are nurturing a child.
And she says another thing, in response to my familiar wail about the voices of disapproval which I have allowed to hinder me for years - a wonderful thing which has walked with me all day, comforting my very bones. She says it quickly, in passing, not intentionally the gem of a thing I find it to be at all:
As for your voices, she says: The past is a museum. My brain stumbles, goes back over it, grasps the potential of the image with astonishing speed. Pain, both age-old and recent, assumes suddenly the status of archive, a solid, brass-plaqued exhibit in a marble hall. Not the torturous, nasty live thing I've been dealing with, no, this past is curated, indexed, held under lock and key behind a good oakwood door. I begin to understand how to work effortlessly with something I have been throwing energy at for weeks; how even the very worst days can - will - recede.
There was a day - November 25th - my nadir. The desperate, scribbled note I wrote to myself is still pinned to the fridge where I left it - LIFE WILL GET BETTER THAN THIS SHIT DAY.
And, look, I was right.