Despite all this performance anxiety, therapy sessions were always edifying. Jamie used a whiteboard, propped on one knee and angled towards me, like a ventriloquist with his dummy. On this, he drew the same schema and models of self-reinforcing mental systems that we saw in the workshops (some of which he ran.) We slotted in the behaviours, drives and assumptions I may operate by. The aim was to find ways to disrupt the unhelpful cycles and replace them with more beneficial ones. These discussions were directly applied to eating disorders, unlike those I have with Phillip, my therapist at home, which deal more with the roots of my states of mind.
After a while, patterns or motifs started to emerge. We began to form plausible, or at least coherent, narratives and explanations of my behaviour. I was cautious of accepting them wholly, though. Their very coherence, their internal narrative consistency, made me slightly suspicious. Surely the mind isn’t so neat and thoughtful in its subconscious workings. Isn’t it just a mess of reactive emotion, rather than a creator of careful theories and concepts of self?
I guess I’m suspicious of explanations that excuse my behaviour. They seem too convenient, self-serving. On the other hand, these suspicions are themselves manifestations of the old tropes of doubt about the self, psychological blindness, unwillingness to admit any explanations other than unreflective self-condemnation. Am I wallowing in a sense of my own irredeemability? (Then again, am I condemning myself for condemning myself?) (Should I be condemning myself for condemning myself for condemning myself?)