As a small child growing up in Benwell when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I always had a very certain answer – a writer. Books were my escape, as a neurodiverse working class kid who “didnt know how to girl” books were life rafts from poverty, from difference, from otherness. I write this surrounded by green fields, as a member of that most middle class professions, a psychotherapist. My backstory traces its way across continents, through back alleys and centers of learning to a child, in a 3 room flat, with no bathroom and an outside toilet, hiding behind the sofa because bills were due.
How much backstory does one need? How much backstory does one create, cultivating this or that image of a life? It’s a question that comes up often in the early sessions in therapy – what do I want, or need to know of someones backstory. The answer is, of course, that I need, or want to know, exactly what they tell me.
One of the threads that connects the freckled red head whose very first move was in infancy, from a house where a rat curled up in the cot with the baby (I am very glad that happened pre memory formation) with the adult who types this, is that desire to write. Fiction, blogs, poetry, it has been a theme, always playing, sometimes louder, sometimes softer, in the symphony that makes up any life.
So, when I hold in my hand a book with a chapter by me, smell the new book smell, feel the freshness of the pages, I cannot help but think of that child, who just wanted to write. Fandom Cultures and The Archers edited by Cara Courage and Nicola Headlam might not have been the book I anticipated being part of. To be quite honest I think I aspired to be Enid Blyton quite more than was healthy. However, if you understand the back story, you understand quite why holding it in my hand is a moment of pure joy.
The adult is also proud of the chapter, even as the child delights in its mere existence as a book. They Needed Counselling? Is a look not only at who is able to access psychotheraputic support, from an intersectional and anti oppressive stance, but it also asks what can be done to remove the barriers which exist. For me this is the heart of anti oppressive practice, not just to explain, or theorise, but to act. For how does it help those children who have to escape the world via books, if we do not try to build a world they do not need to escape from?