Friday, 29 January 2010

The Odd Couple

I have written about Tamsin and Nathan before.

Since that entry, we managed to persuade her to see her doctor and she is now receiving psychiatric help although I have to say that from what she describes, her sessions are very much like mine with the therapist. She just talks to him. There’s no couch, no ink spots, no word recognition ! The difference is of course is that she is on medication too, which I think is really what has been helping. So much so that her marriage is completely different. Once she was calm and back to the old Tamsin again, Nathan seemed to rediscover her and it was all very magical and she was on cloud nine. At Christmas, they renewed their wedding vows and took themselves off for a week without the children for a second honeymoon.

It should have been happy ever after but of course, it’s not. Life rarely is.

Last week, Nathan called me at work to say that almost overnight Tamsin seems to have gone back to how she was – moody, uncommunicative and full of rage and anger towards him. She says she wants him out of the house as he is responsible for her poor mental health. He insists he has done nothing wrong and can only think that she has stopped taking her tablets. The trouble is he sounded really fed up and said that he feels cheated and that he too wants out. He asked if I would speak to her to find out what’s going on but that actually he has already started looking at flats to rent.

So yesterday, I went round for coffee. She seemed fine. Very calm but very insistent that she doesn’t want to be married to Nathan anymore. She had no reason other than she feels he has held her back. There was nothing I could do but listen.

As I was leaving, I told her how sorry I was because they had looked so happy recently and then suddenly , she was crying hysterically and begging me not to go because she didn’t know how she was going to cope without Nathan and that she knew he’d had enough of her and so she was trying to end things before he did. I told her that was not how he’d felt until she had changed again but she was pulling on my sleeve and pleading with me to make everything OK. To be honest I was a bit frightened. This was such a different woman from the bubbly, bright Tamsin who moved into our street.

Anyway, we talked a bit more and she calmed down and somehow I agreed to act as a mediator between them so they could talk properly. I have done this sort of thing before, years ago, when I took up counselling as part of some youth work I was doing at the time. I was trying to do my bit for the community when I dreamt I could make the world right. It interested me a lot and so I did further courses working with adult issues with a view to maybe leaving PR and talking it up full time but it never happened. PR was too easy for me to abandon.

I never forgot those skills though and I think it’s why so many of my friends find me easy to talk to. It’s also the reason I believe my sessions with my therapist are not particularly productive. I keep thinking I know what he’s doing rather than letting him get on with the job of doing it. I am my own worst enemy.

Back to Tamsin and Nathan though, it’s precisely because of my own therapy that something says I shouldn’t be stepping in for them. I do think they need to talk things through with a third party but I don’t think that should be me. But then maybe I’m being terribly selfish because it was only when I agreed to do it that Tamsin calmed down. Oh! Something tells me I mustn’t do it.

I don’t know what to do for the best.


  1. Sometimes just to listen is enough and to question someone - gently - why they think or assume something that may or may not be real. Very often we have the answers ourselves - we just need a little gentle nurturing to come to them.

  2. Selina, in the last section of your post you said exactly what I am going to say in this party. Obviously I don't know the people involved. Clearly Tamsin is not in a good way and I hope the help she is receiving will help with that. Like Steve said, a listening ear is good but my view is that, as you say, because of your own therapy you should not be stepping in for them. I think you have enough of your own stuff to deal with and you are still at the early stages of your therapy.

    You are without doubt the sort of person who wants to help and support others, that is evident from your blog. So I'd offer support but don't get too deeply involved in a situation that sounds messy and stressful. I think professionals should do that. Just my advice as possible a more objective observer since I don't know the parties involved.

    Rosie x

  3. Wow - what a situation to be in. For everyone involved. Good luck! and go with your gut.

  4. I think RosieScribble has said what I was going to say. There is a reason why some people are professional councellors and they should be the ones stepping in here, I suspect that maybe you were in the wrong place at the right time?? Encourage your friend to see someone.

  5. What Rosie and the Saggitarian said. I'd also add that without the benefit of a professional structure and context, you'd be actually putting yourself in the position of being someone she could blame for the difficulties if you didn't 'sort them out'.