The other day, I realised that I was getting therapy by stealth and I wasn’t mad about it. It was free after all.
Our family is being supported by some kind and sensitive CAMHS (Child and adolescent mental health services) staff and I’m thankful. We’ve been run through the mill a bit and the emotional roller coaster isn’t about to end I’m sure.
It was on my third one to one visit with R, a CAMHS worker who’d been on our case from the beginning, that I realised what she was doing. There was some digging into my past that I wasn’t prepared for but as I shared, I saw it made perfect sense and shed light on the situation. I’m not going to lie, I was momentarily uncomfortable and hoped that I wouldn’t cry.
As a Christian and a minister’s wife, I have to remind myself that it’s okay to seek help from others who don’t see the world as I do and it’s okay to cry for help while holding your bible close to you. This might sound strange, even silly to those of other faiths or none but this is the reality for many people like me.
It may sound a little trite and a bit contrived but as I spoke, I was also aware of what I was wearing.
Both my trousers and shacket were memade and both items connected to a part of my life I was being encouraged to talk about. And the juxtaposition of the two brought me up to date to this time and place with all it’s responsibilities, loves, beliefs and burdens.
My woven joggers made from a delightful, soft waxed cotton, of course had the connections to my Ghanaian heritage and upbringing. My parents’ loving yet Victorian-esque mode of parenting has obviously shaped me and given me much to work through.
My patch work denim overshirt took me back to university days, when I lived in denim and flannel shirts and worker jackets. Those were complicated, messy days, and it seems that I’m still working stuff through from that era.
The fact that I am now making and wearing my own clothes and deriving so much comfort from doing so is a direct result of some of the difficult stuff I’m going through. Sewing helps. It distracts, it excites and delights, it brings a sense of control and achievement.
In a very small way, my sewing is a form of escape, but it us not an addiction, it doesn’t control me. But I am so glad I have something that is beautiful and I love to do while working on more important things, people whom I love but cannot and shouldn’t control.
I was thankful that my outfit that day was comfortable and I didn’t feel awkward in it. My clothes were comfortable, they fitted and suited me and being unconcerned about them gave me more freedom in an otherwise tricky space. Don’t believe the lie that clothes are unimportant. We all know that a great outfit can boost confidence. We know that wearing happy colours can give us energy and joy. And sometimes we just want comfort and reassurance from our clothes, a sense of a hug and some grounding.
On that day, the outfit that I unwittingly chose to wear reminded me of my growth and change. The fact that people are growing and changing, living and learning helps me to keep the faith and be hopeful.
Perhaps this post makes little sense to you, but it felt needed for me. Sometimes when I’m low or feeling overwhelmed, I’m tempted to push sewing aside, allowing sadness and busyness to take over. But I have learned that this is not helpful. There is room for joy and sadness to co-exist and a little creativity can make hard days a little softer.