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If the memory of something makes me squirm, I chuck it out and never think about it again. But now that R and I have started to see a therapist, I’m hoping our relationship isn’t destined for the scrapheap too

There are few things more pleasing to me than bins – not aesthetically, but for their practicality and purpose. I have a bin in every room of my house and after I have carried all of the rubbish on to the street, I feel lighter. To me, a wheelie bin is a wonderful thing.

I think one of my placentas ended up in a wheelie bin, along with all of the ruined towels that a homebirth required – stains so indelible that not even a boil wash, doused with fabric-bleach, would suffice.

And then there were the sex toys that once seemed funny, or fun, that sat at the bottom of my chest of drawers for a decade gathering fluff. Before I binned them, I became terrified about dying prematurely – not for the obvious reasons, but because I envisaged my mother searching for spare bed-linen after my death, only to find my collection of stiff rubber gadgets lying sad and dormant under sheets, so old that the batteries had leaked all over the function buttons. Nothing is more depressing than a broken vibrator.

I wouldn’t even be alive to defend myself, to say, “Mum, these were once attractive – really. I know I should have binned them as soon as they started to lose their colour!”

So the sex toys ended up in the wheelie bin, with me cowering behind the curtains on bin day, hoping the dustmen would not detect any strange vibrations as they tipped my rubbish into the truck.

If something looks bad, smells funny, or the memory of it makes me squirm, then I usually want to throw it away. I never think about it again. However un-ecologically minded this might make me appear, stuff that is out of sight is conveniently out of mind.

I would feel panicked if wheelie bins were banned and I was forced to separate every last bit of rubbish. I know my desire to chuck away things I find hard to deal with paints me as someone who doesn’t cope well with uncomfortable emotions.

In my relationship with R, we both, thankfully, understand that pain exists, but it is still hard to know what to do with it. Sometimes my negative feelings ignite so wildly that I think I’d rather kill R than be in a relationship with him again. I want to chuck everything away and start again, without R – or with someone else.

Instead of reaching for the poison, however, we have started to see a therapist. Recently, when R said he wanted to be with me, I replied that I wanted to be with him too. But I also wanted to see if, before we made a decision, a therapist could help us. Not just by looking at the addiction and alcohol, or the trust issues, but also the more tedious relationship problems that most couples face.

Even after our first session, it is clear that the therapist will not carry away all of our crap. Instead, she throws it back at us, which might sound messy and unkind but is actually very helpful. She asks us to see why some things that were once good have now been turned, in our eyes, into something rotten.

If she were a bin man, she’d be sifting through our rubbish bags, saying things like, “Oi, lazy! Why are you throwing out all of your rubbish together? Sort it out.” She is asking us to break down our relationship into the components that existed before we were a couple, before time made some things muddled, sullied or unfit for purpose.

It feels amazing to be able to talk to each other in front of another adult. When we are asked a question by the therapist, R and I take it in turns to reply without interruption, which in itself is a novelty. Crosstalk had become the unhealthy way in which we communicated and it often distracted us from listening.

Some of the stuff is painful; most of it is uncomfortable. Last week, R said that he thinks I would take him back in whatever state he is in. I’m certain this is not true, but I can see that I can be flighty with my decisions, quick to change my mind.

After one session a certain, slow re-assembly of our relationship has begun, making it clear that a future together is not, as it so recently seemed, destined for the scrapheap. © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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