by Joseph Willson 3 months ago in recovery

My Counsellor, My Friend...

Where to turn when one's life is in the toilet...

Where do I begin? Ashley, for all intents and purposes is my life line.

Ashley is my 'counsellor' both in the typical sense as she is a registered clinical counsellor by trade and for me, even in a sort of spiritual sense. Truthfully, I can think of no other way to describe her. She is an incredibly intelligent, intensely astute, and also a pleasingly beautiful woman that has become for me the one place I can turn when I have a problem that has me baffled or confused. She is a beautiful woman in the conventional sense of the word, yes, yet that is not what I am referring to here. Ashley's beauty, to me- comes from within. From an inner most place that if every living breathing person could share her values, her ideals, as I see her- as people, we would certainly be a much happier bunch on this earth.

Over the course of my life I have met a vast array of people from all different cultures and backgrounds, from virtually just about every walk of life- I truly have. Few people have meant so much to me as Ashley does. If I could commit to a single word for sake of convenience to describe this woman I would yet that's the thing- she is a very complex matter of fact person that just wants to, needs to help; for her own sense of self. She cares. She cares a lot. Interestingly, I know little about Ashley, after all she is my counsellor. My reasons for seeing Ashley are not for the sake of getting to know her, although at times I have wished that were not the case.

In order for others to understand my appreciation of this remarkable woman there does need to be some back story here. My name is Joseph, and I am recovering alcoholic. Coming up on six years and Ashley has been with me through a great portion of this journey. She has been my go to girl through many a difficult struggle. Both recovery related when we first started our client/counsellor relationship to just everyday life crap that inevitably pops up for everyone on the face of the planet.

Ashley and I first started seeing each other just about four and a half years ago. I had just moved out of the addictions treatment facility I had been in for fourteen months and I knew beyond any doubt, I still needed to have some form of counselling behind me. Having had a primary counsellor and four other individuals of that same genre at my disposal within the recovery house, my bases were covered there. Once moving from the facility though I was on my own with the exception of a single case worker at the establishment I was now living. I sought out, of my own accord, and came to find Ashley oddly enough through an advertisement on a city bus for the company she was employed with. I set up an appointment immediately after reading her bio on the company's website. Something about it just 'clicked' with me and I specified her when making this appointment. I have never looked back. It turned out to be one of the wisest decisions I have ever made.

Our first appointment for me was a tad nerve-wracking, a little uncomfortable if you will. I found out later that Ashley was just as nervous as I was, which I thought was very cute when she told me this after having seen each other some three years. I explained what it was I just been through with the treatment centre and the exposing of all those demons, coming to terms with my sobriety, my shame of wasting my life to the point I had, everything that goes along with being a practicing addict for twenty-five + years. Our first few appointments this came up of course but we gradually moved completely out of the realm of addictions counselling as that is not what needed to be the focus of these meetings any longer.

Ashley had now become 'my life coach'. We tackled things such as my insecurities, self-esteem and self-confidence issues. She was my sounding board through the publication of my first two books. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, Ashley was my support. Issues with work, issues with family and friends, the horror for me of continuing to live in the downtown east side of Vancouver where I had ended up for the treatment program after losing everything I had ever worked for my entire adult life because of my addiction. The memories that would constantly return of ending up homeless and living on the street that continued to haunt me. Ashley was there. Ashley was my rock.

Just plain somebody to talk too that I knew full well would not judge, take sides or even give an opinion unless I asked for one. She was simply there to listen and encourage, to empathise and to push me in the right direction so as to make my own decisions and completely re-introduce myself into the big bad world again as the sober, competent and intelligent man I had forgotten I was.

Sadly yet also in an encouragingly positive fashion, Ashley and I recently have had a parting of the ways. Will this mean we shall never speak again? I think not. Will I relapse because of losing what I thought was the only support I had? Absolutely not simply because of the things Ashley and I have accomplished over the time we have spent working on those seemingly unresolved issues and trial and tribulations life throws at all of us.

The encouragement, the self assurance she has evoked in me, the sense of pride I have in myself and of myself for the life I am now leading is simply incredible. I cannot, and shall never be able to thank her enough for helping me through some of the toughest times of my life thus far. Plus, I now know the next time someone throws me a 'curve ball', because of those life lessons she has instilled in me, I will indeed be able to weather that storm too.

Considering that roughly six years ago, my direction, my course or path in life was I truly was headed for a pine box. I know in my mind had I continued down that road I would no longer be of this earth. Could I have accomplished this monumental task without Ashley? I do wonder about that some days. Would I have wanted too? I think not.

Ashley has given me the inspiration to become the man I am today. The influence to now continue on that road without her guidance as she has instilled in me the means to do this on my own with her words of wisdom forever embedded in my psyche as my guiding light.

I shall be forever grateful for the time we have spent together.

Joseph Willson
Joseph Willson
Read next: Never In the Cover of Night
Joseph Willson

JP Willson is an accomplished chef who's worked in some of Vancouver and Victoria's most prestigious kitchens. Now as an author of two self-help books while living and working in Victoria, British Columbia. Life has become far from ordinary

See all posts by Joseph Willson