Reading Time: 6 minutes
So you’ve heard her name come up several times.
And I don’t think I’ve actually shared a photo of us together.
(Just went through Google photos and found three recent ones. F*ck it I’ll share all of them)
Yup, I know.
I’m a handsome bugger, right?
As you may remember (or not) from my Maria episode – I first called the Samaritans in 2011 after our bad breakup.
It was at that point I became consciously aware that I had some issues with self-esteem and confidence that wouldn’t simply resolve themselves by ‘trial and error’.
This approach had cost me dearly.
And so my journey previous to meeting Ragni and alongside meeting Ragni was reading:
These count as just among a couple of the books/literature I read during my 20s.
If I’m being honest I still don’t think I’ve 100% cracked any of these problems – but that’s the nature of our own insecurities – they live with us throughout our lives unless we actively manage them.
And yet – for all of my reading – it wasn’t enough.
I thought my problems with my relationships had been resolved – as my ‘issues’ seemed to fade with each breakup.
And so after Tina, Charlene and Maria what began to be clear was that my issues could somewhat only be dealt with within the context of a relationship.
A fateful night in Turin when Daniela and I were courting in which she’d been gently running her hands down my back and I’d then pushed her across the bed gave rise to a violent argument between us.
I’d felt like no one the way I did for Daniela, and she was the one who stood as the only relationship partner who demanded I seek therapy else our relationship would not survive.
This was in 2012. In 2020, some 8 years later and after so much turbulence together – it turns out she was right.
Now I’ve spoken several times about my relationship issues – they were similar here but more acute because of the way I felt about Daniela. So I decided to really do something about it.
My journey took me to ‘person-centred therapy’ as they call it – I think it’s a substream of a type of psychodynamic therapy.
I’d go and see this lady called ‘Ruth’ through Mind charity 1x per week whilst I was working at Indoor Media to basically spend time talking about my childhood.
I’d walk out of these sessions feeling good initially.
The act of talking to a professional who’s paid (in Mind’s case they volunteer) to listen to your problems for a solid 60 minutes is therapy all by itself.
At the time I thought that ‘right I’ll do 6 weeks of therapy and I’ll be fine!’
Of course, it’s naive to assume that you can (in 6 hours) solve 100,000 hours worth of problems I’d been carrying with me for over a decade in a couple of hours.
That’s a magical quick fix which does not exist at all.
So my time between these sessions I felt I had nothing to work from. No strategy, no structure. And as much as I’d feel lighter walking out of these sessions – I didn’t see where it would take me.
And my relationship with Daniela wasn’t really benefiting from it.
I ultimately moved on to try other things.
Group counselling was next and after just two sessions I put a stop to it. It wasn’t right for me.
Next, I tried a separate counselling company that treated relationship issues a little like you do the 12 steps of alcohol addiction. The 12-step programmes taken for alcohol have been adapted to many other areas as you can see here
That was a bust as well – most likely because there wasn’t one in Northolt or in Uxbridge.
(Much of my life choices and the powerful relationships I’ve built have been based upon proximity)
Then I was introduced to CBT.
And as I’ve come to see over the years – it’s been this approach to my life that has changed everything for me.
Whereas before I didn’t know what to do before and after my therapy sessions with Ruth.
With Ragni, it was totally different.
The focus (as I recollect) is totally based on your problematic behaviours and trying to eradicate them by replacing them with more positive behaviours.
So this would involve journaling, keeping track of certain actions, and grading my responses, reactions and actions to monitor my progress and watch for improvements.
Furthermore depending upon the emotions, thoughts and behaviours surrounding my struggles – Ragni would seek to break all of these elements down into singular parts to examine and then adjust them.
The rationale was that my mind and cognitive tapes were running in a manner that was to protect me as it was the only model it knew.
But this model was unfortunately destructive.
Much of this came from a lack of self-belief (which I believe I still have) that stemmed from…wherever it stemmed from!
This is the beauty of CBT – it didn’t concern itself with deep reflections on my past but focused on behavioural changes today that would impact my future.
And this was an approach that suited (as I discovered ) my style down to the ground
Let me give you a singular example of what it helped me with.
One of the bad patterns of behaviour would be that I would message Daniela if she hadn’t messaged me for 2 hours.
And in itself, that’s ok – we all have different patterns in our relationships.
But I’d do this continually every 2 hours (still ok) ultimately repeating in its various forms the same question –
‘Do you love me?
‘Why aren’t you messaging me?’
‘Aren’t you thinking about me?’
I’d find ‘rational ways’ to dress this up into ‘logical reasons to ask her the same thing.
Ragni asked me to describe the emotion I felt once 90 minutes had gone by.
It was one of her common questions:
‘If that emotion had a voice and you gave that voice words – what would those words be?’
I described it as waiting for an exam and the butterflies you’d feel but alongside an impending sense of dread because you hadn’t prepared enough for the said exam.
And once I got my ‘hit’ upon starting the exam when Daniela messaged me –
And she indeed DID tell me she loved me – the cycle would start again, and it felt like an endless series of exams.
Ragni listened without judgement.
‘An exam is a test that you pass or fail’
‘Why is getting a message from Daniela like an exam Deepak?’
Again I focused on my feelings and tried to give them words before my brain kicked in and I wrapped it up in a conveyable logic that hid my true nature and satisfied my audience.
‘Because I want to be loved and I need to know I’m loved!’
Once that became clear – it also became clear that Ragni and I had something to work from. A slither of real truth as to WHY I behaved the way I did.
I didn’t feel loved.
‘We all want to be and feel loved Deepak – and that’s ok :)’
I felt a wave of relief wash over myself – like I had let an intimate secret out and I wasn’t being judged for it.
Then she asked a different question this time.
A most intelligent question that was so sincerely put and so powerful that it was there and then I began the rocky path to my own redemption.
‘Tell me Deepak – do you love yourself?
My head AND my heart violently said no.
‘You’re not worthy of the love you idiot!’
Love felt like a foreign object to me. Like an experiment in a lab and my only way of grasping at it was from without.
And so we began the repetitious and powerful journey of changing my cognitive tapes and learning to love myself for who I am and who I was back then,
Through mantras, creating new behaviours, tracking how long the time was between each ‘exam’ and focusing upon my own self-love through writing lists, keeping notes for myself perpetually journaling – a little bit like now in a way…
I got on my path to sanity, stability and building a more stable and loving relationship with the woman I fought to be with; Daniela.
That’s all for today. Catch you in the next letter!