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“I had never thought of myself as a control freak but I was aware that I always felt better doing things my way.

"Whether at work or at home, if I felt that something had not been done right, I’d do it myself and sort it out. I wouldn’t make a fuss about it, at most I’d just mention it in passing.

"Inside, I was always a bit frustrated that I would have to be fixing other people’s mistakes when I had plenty of my own work to do but I kept these feelings bottled up.

“I first noticed there was a problem when I felt tired all the time. No matter how much sleep I managed to get, it never seemed like enough. With the tiredness came irritability - I grew quite short and snappy with people and then after I’d snapped at them I’d feel terribly remorseful and apologetic. One day I broke down in tears at the office and couldn’t stop crying, even when they sent me home.

“That was when I realised I needed some support. It felt strange, seeking out a counsellor and talking to them about the problems. I’d never really been all that open with people about my emotions and that was something I had to face up to in the first few sessions.

"The counsellor didn’t challenge me with that fact, I realised it myself and then we explored why it was that I felt so uncomfortable sharing my emotions with others. It all comes down to a fear of vulnerability. I had gotten so used to being seen as the strong, capable one that the idea of showing any kind of crack in my armour was terrifying. My tiredness was due to the fact that I was wearing this armour all the time and it was exhausting. It got so that there was not a single moment of my day that I was lowering my guard and just relaxing.

"My time with the counsellor helped me to understand the importance of letting go. Letting go of this notion that I had to do everything perfectly and that I had to sort out things when people were not doing them correctly, according to my own exacting high standards.

"Letting go also meant letting go of my fear of showing my vulnerable side to others. It meant taking off that armour that I had built up over the years, piece by piece, until I felt comfortable showing myself to another person and having the experience of being accepted for who I am, not who I felt people wanted me to be.”

Taigh Sàmhchair: professional counselling and psychotherapy
Hereward Proops MBACP, registered member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
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