Book Review: If They Could See Me Now Author: Denise Welch

Denise bookI read this within 24 hours. As the first sentence in a review of a 350+ page book, that says quite a lot. I barely put it down – in fact, I think my copy will have my breakfast crumbs firmly embedded in the pages now…

This is Denise’s first novel – and I admit I am a little behind as it was published in early 2016. Late to the party – again! But I’m glad I turned up eventually.

The story focuses on Harper, a 53 year old with a rich husband living the high life in Cheshire with the ladies that lunch. So I wasn’t convinced I would relate, but I thought I’d give it a whirl…

Thing is, this isn’t so much about the superficial bits of Harper’s life – other than showing how truly superficial they are. It’s a study of relationships, love, abuse, bullying, self-esteem, mental health and independence. It explores how the family dynamic impacts on each member and reinforces a particularly important lesson in life – that you should never lose sight of who you really are.

Harper makes a huge sacrifice for love. Or at least, for what she wants to believe is love. And this story shows that abuse doesn’t have to have physical signs. That bullying doesn’t have to involve fighting. In fact, what’s important in this story is that the person experiencing the bullying and abuse may not even realise it. And when you paint a smile on your face, nobody else need realise either.

How many of us have sacrificed parts of ourselves for somebody else? I know I have many years ago. I look back and think, perhaps it was because I was young? Perhaps I was naive. But it’s not just about being young and naive, it’s far more complicated. It’s often impossible to see it when you’re on the inside. When you believe that this is the best that love has to offer. When your self-esteem has hit an all time low. Sometimes, you can’t even see that, either.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I think what is also incredibly thought-provoking in this book is the impact that relationships can have on the wider family. And how within a family, it isn’t simply a series of individual relationships, but a bigger, whole relationship with individual parts and bonds that all react to one another – both positively and negatively.

It’s about love. Who you truly are, who you love, and allowing a little love for yourself, too. It’s not about neutralising one for the sake of the other. It’s about combining and accepting all the best, and worst, bits of each other, of a family, and making something really special. It’s the only way to thrive. Compromising who you are is a strong indicator of something toxic creeping in…

But can Harper see that? Give it a read and find out.

If they could see me now which is published by Little Brown is available to buy online – click here to order.

It’s time to ponder the big stuff

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Time to look back to childhood learnings

I have a new counsellor. I was referred because, during my counselling assessment, it was suggested that online CBT and management of symptoms probably wouldn’t cut it. I’d done all that. It got me through but it didn’t move me forward. It was time to tackle the big stuff.

Was I ready? As ready as I was when I ticked the option for GCSE Drama as an excruciatingly shy 15 year old. And as ready as I was when I jumped on the bus to travel to the Christchurch skydive centre.

So I very quickly said yes and committed before I could wimp out. After all, my amygdala might have been telling me that I was bricking it, but my rational mind argued that these things would be bloody good for me. As good for me, in fact, as a Labour government would be for Britain. (NB – for any currently undecided voters, just to clarify matters, I passed GCSE drama and survived the sky dive, landing with a beaming smile and a huge surge in endorphins. So do take a chance on Jezza tomorrow. You will be rewarded.)

Anyway, back to therapy. Not that I would need so much of it if Labour got in…..

Sorry, that’s definitely the end of the political talk now. Back to therapy…

I thought I might share this new experience of more in depth therapy, as I would love to hear from anyone else who has gone beyond CBT and into what makes us who we are. It’s kind of interesting having spent so many years managing symptoms and learning about CBT to actually look at what’s underneath. What’s driving it all. I had no idea until recently that a lack of self-esteem could cause anxiety. That it’s not necessarily all the small things that are making you anxious, but something much bigger and longer-term that’s driving it.

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Doubt

Sketch 1The buzzing has been constant for so many years I can barely hear it. A doubtful tinnitus. A constant humming, like the electricity in the walls and the distant traffic in a place I’ve lived forever.

Am I intruding on this conversation? Are they flinching from my smell? Can they see me picking my eyes, my hair, my skin?

Is it thinking too much of myself to assume others have crowd funded this hate on my behalf. When I can do it all myself.

Too much, too little, too me, too much. Apologise before you speak. Speak too much then speak some more to say you’re sorry.

Like a mosquito somewhere in a dark room. It’s not clear, but it’s definitely there.¬† And when it shows itself to your ears, you remember what it is. It bites. And it will.

And when it bites, you create two. And four. And eight. And on and on and one more creates a swarm that you can’t see through.

I can hear the electricity in the walls. I can hear the distant traffic. I can hear the jibes. They’re coming from them, and them, and them. Passing the baton from mosquito to moth to spider to a darkness that’s alive and moving as fast as my mind. There’s no such thing as nothing. Dread. It’s telling me something.

How can you seek solace – when you don’t know if you’re running from them, or from yourself?

I know what doubt is. But I still doubt its existence.