Can alarm clocks have a sense of humour? When they play “Monday, Monday” followed by “Manic Monday” at 6.30 in the morning as a wake-up call you might wonder. Is it irony or just a coincidence? Isabella woke up with more of a Boomtown Rats feeling than that. “I don’t like Mondays.” Especially of course when she knew that she wouldn’t spend it in the company of her son. David will be with Marcus this evening and the rest of the week. Isabella knew that she would miss him like crazy. Not Marcus – David. To be separated from your children is painful even if it is only for a week. She remembered, back in the days she and Marcus were still together, that when Marcus had to leave town for a few days he hated that more than anything. The same kind of torment Isabella was going through every other week. Many people told her “Isn’t wonderful to have complete freedom every other week?” and even other separated parents tried to maintain that in order to rationalise things. The other mantra separated parents usually repeated was that “the children are better off this way as they do not have to see their parents fighting”. Isabella had tried to believe both these phrases but had failed miserably. She couldn’t really feel that she was free when she was without David but rather trapped by loneliness and a bad conscience. And as for David being better off moving between two half homes fifty-two times every year? The answer was no. The relation between her and Marcus was only about her and Marcus. David was a result at first, but now an innocent victim of it. An innocent victim feeling guilty. David had more than once asked if he was to blame for the split. Isabella knew that David was scarred already. Still, a small mercy was that the separation was not because of a betrayal. If Marcus had found someone else and left because of that, things might have been worse, or if she had. Such patterns are hard to erase in a child’s mind. Isabella and David had their Monday separation breakfast both knowing that again they would not see each other for a week. As many children facing these circumstances they are forced to grow up very fast. David too. He was a normal kid in most situations but he had learned to handle the separation process better than Isabella had, at least on the surface. Isabella noticed a tendency in David seeing everything as more fragile, more unstable and more unreliable than before. He had lost quite a bit of his initial trust in life. Marcus and Isabella had stolen that from him and they both knew it. Perhaps Isabella knew it a bit more, but you cannot measure pain can you? The old saying “You made thy bed, now lay in it” was a bit too simple. It should read “ You both made the bed, made love on the sofa, received a child, crashed the relationship and now You will ALL feel alone – including your innocent child”. Isabella snapped out of it. Not because she was good at it, because she must. David had to get to school. She could have a break-down later. If her calendar would permit of course. After Easter perhaps. Isabella thought “If Jesus could die and then live again so can I”. Isabella had always had a complicated relation to religion, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. She was of course officially a Protestant as she was born in Sweden, but felt that Protestantism was a bit boring and that Catholics seemed to have more fun. She also more than one close friend that was a Muslim and she also knew at least three Jews. Isabella thought they would all fit in at one of her parties and that they would all be good friends. She had named her son “David” knowing that it meant “beloved” in Hebrew and also knowing that no matter what religion that name might be OK. She wanted him to be loved by everyone. Isabella had taken a glance or two into the Bible, the Koran and the Torah texts and realized that they were written by people in a context. She also realized that the priests, imams and rabbis of today are very much in a context too. Amazing how matters of faith have come to be mixed with politics and how politics has turned into ordinary marketing and sales. Isabella had nothing against God, but she didn’t trust that ground crew longer than she could throw them. She had always found it weird that the Almighty God was such a lousy manager. He, presumably male of course, did not manage his office very well as he could not make the office managers work together. He could not make his company “The World Unlimited” prosper either even though he had a total monopoly and he did not even manage to make his officers realize that they were actually part of the same crew. “Laissez-faire management” apparently does not work here. God has to realize that good staff is hard to find. The crew seems to be busy selling products like “jihad jello”, “crusade crackers” and similar products. Whatever happened to the “silly love songs” and “give peace a chance”? Isabella sighed. She had started to look for meaning elsewhere as so many of her clients also did. She met so many people in her work that were fed up with markets, politics, religion and their daily life. All they wanted was to find an escape from it all. Something or someone to free them from the constant information attack only there to sell them products. The product could be anything of course. Lately one of the products had been “coaching”. Coaching had quickly become the new cure for anything, but nobody really knew what “coaching” was or believed it could apply to everything. In a way to get a coach had become something between getting a guru, a teacher or a healer. On the other it was also similar to getting a dentist, a doctor, a hairdresser or a new handbag. The experience of actually being a coach was a mix of all these and working at the ER.
To Isabella’s astonishment she found that many clients treated their coach like they would a handbag rather than they would a doctor or dentist. If your dentist or doctor made you realize that you needed to take some steps to get better you would do it. At least Isabella would. But a handbag, no matter how sophisticated or expensive you just take for granted. After the first joy of buying it has worn off nothing really happens. Isabella had recently tried real hard to make her clients understand from the start that personal development is not a product given to the client at the first meeting, but a process over time where the coach and the client are equally responsible. She usually added that the process should continue even between the meetings. And of course she wanted to tattoo her clients with “NQFTL!” on the inside of their eyelids. So many clients seemed to believe that a single coaching meeting contained a “Quick Fix To Life”. Isabella had to write a big “NO QUICK FIX TO LIFE!” on her Whiteboard ever so often. Reality issues were hard to handle in life.
When life itself was an issue that really was outside handling there were only three ways to react: To fight, to flee or to play dead. Sometimes all of these patterns may apply, perhaps in a certain sequence. In the apartment in Östermalm lay someone who had already played dead before and had fled more than once too. Enough of that now – Time to fight. And time for a hearty breakfast. On a mission all the depots must be filled. When you are on a tight schedule getting flu could spoil everything. That was not going to happen. Not now. Not ever. Physical and mental strength were the keys to success if you could speak of success here. It was more about setting the records straight.
In Södermalm, after leaving David at school, Isabella went straight to her Old Town office to meet her first client. Again it was Camilla, who she had seen once before and had not been straight at all. Not in any sense of the word. Isabella wondered how Camilla had dealt with her infidelity issues, her bisexuality and her wife. Isabella reflected on her own mistakes at their first meeting too. Of course, marriage between women being a fairly new thing, her mistakes were understandable but not excusable. A good coach should always meet her client where she or he is at the time and never jump to conclusions. Camilla was her first client explicitly lesbian, semi-lesbian or bisexual and officially in a gay marriage. Isabella had a hard time choosing between different terms to call her client in regards to this subject. There was always a possibility that Camilla wouldn’t identify with whatever term she decided on. Isabella eventually settled for “Camilla”. The simple solution.
Camilla was on time again. Today she wore a sporty extremely yellow down jacket, a blue tight stretchy pair of jeans and black boots. She looked at least ten years younger than last time they met. She was smiling and gave Isabella a hug too. A happier client, Isabella thought at first. Then she begun to wonder if that was actually true. She would not jump to conclusions with Camilla again and she was really curious to find out what had happened since their last meeting. Isabella had to admit to herself that her Sapphic experience level was low, limited to what she had read, seen in films and a few experiments at thirteen with her best friend limited to kisses and a touch of breasts. Isabella had read somewhere that almost every young woman, and man for that matter, has thoughts about having sex with the same sex at least once and that does not mean that they are gay at all. But Camilla was of course in another division. And now equipped with a nice cup of herbal tea in Isabella’s office confidently placing herself, crossing her legs getting ready for her next session. Isabella smiled, realizing that Camilla had placed her legs exactly as she had. Mirroring another person is usually a good sign of liking. And Camilla HAD returned for her next session.
But Isabella knew that it was seldom the second session that was the hardest. She knew that it was the third and forth. The first two usually were easier for clients. The first two were filled with curiosity, novelty and fun. The third often meant really starting to get down to what really mattered and the fourth usually meant that the client started to realize that she had to actually make some effort herself. If a client managed to overcome this obstacle and start to make things happen between sessions then she would return for her fifth session. Isabella had noticed a pattern in the clients that would break the coaching relationship. They usually didn’t do any of the agreed assignments decided on in the sessions and if they had made notes they usually forget to bring them to the next session. When they enter the room they started to excuse themselves even before taking a seat. “I haven’t done anything.” The vision of hard work apparently prevented the client from continuing her coaching process. Then there was usually a period of self-deception. The client would start putting off appointments, finding different excuses for not being able to show up or forgetting the appointments all together and finally saying that perhaps she did not have enough time for coaching at this point due to boyfriends, work or something and would return later. The “later” would never happen of course.
Isabella wondered if Camilla would have the mental strength to continue beyond her second session. But she was here now. Sitting calmly, but with her left thumb and index finger fingering a pendant in the shape of a green Fabergé egg. Isabella thought “If that thing is real it would cost a bit.” She had seen a real item such as this one at an auction once in New York at it went for five thousand. Dollars. That would be around thirty-five thousand Swedish Crowns. Isabella recalled that Marcus had about that gross salary per month as an architect. She found it kind of funny that a pendant around a woman’s neck would remind her of her ex. The pendant was more beautiful than Marcus though. Isabella forced herself to focus on Camilla instead of letting her mind wander off like this. “Respect your client.” Isabella’s coaching teacher’s words brought her back on track. “Welcome back Camilla. How has things been for you since we last spoke?”
“Well, you remember that I had been unfaithful with a man at a conference?” “Yes.” Well that man and I have come to an understanding. No more sex between us if my wife cannot either know about it or take part in it.” Isabella felt a bit uncomfortable speaking so freely about sex. “And?” A classic non-demanding question where Isabella did not have to reveal her feelings much. There was a second of silence. “I just love being penetrated sometimes with something alive. Cecilia’s dildos are not the same for me. But I feel ashamed of feeling this way. I don’t want to cheat on Cecilia. I love having sex with her and I love her. When it comes to nearness and caressing me with her fingers and tongue, no man could ever replace her.” If Isabella ever blushed outside a bedroom this was such a time, but she managed to keep her cool. At least on the surface. “ I assume than that sex plays a very important role in your life?” “Sure does.” Isabella started to suspect that Camilla’s image of coaching leaned towards her session being similar to a confession booth. “So, Camilla, what do you want to take with you from today’s session?” Camilla smiled. “I am a bit confused. Well confused may not be the right word. I feel torn between telling Cecilia the full story about Peter and the conference and the understanding, or if I should try to ease Peter into our marriage without mentioning that we have actually met already. And I don’t know how I should go about doing that either, really.” Isabella thought hard. “What would be the advantages if you tell Cecilia everything?” “I would feel more honest.” “So if I interpret your answer you feel that telling is best for your peace of mind?” “Yes, I suppose so.” “Yourself aside, what would be the best situation for Cecilia?” “Good question…..I haven’t thought of it like that before.” “Would you consider doing that now?” Isabella tried to penetrate Camilla in ways she might not quite like as much and Camilla’s fingering of the egg pendant became even more intense as she tried to find a sentence within her that could make sense. “ I guess that there might be a risk that Cecilia would be very hurt by that fact that I have made love to Peter already behind her back.” “What would happen then, you think?” “She might leave me, or we would at least have huge issues between us.” Isabella let Camilla stew for a second before she put the next question on the table. She chose a question that could be answered with yes or no. “Is risk important to you?” Camilla stopped breathing for at least two seconds. Nobody had asked her this before. She hadn’t even asked herself that. Camilla had seen Peter on the sly knowing there were risks involved. Well, realizing it after a while anyway. And her last relationship had ended after an affair, then with another woman. “Yes, I guess I have to admit that – even if I don’t want to.” Camilla smiled in a way that Isabella didn’t know how to interpret. The smile was a combination of surprise, bewilderment, seduction and embarrassment. Or something else. Isabella penetrated Camilla a bit more. “What does that result in for you?” “I feel like a blackheart but also a bit more alive too, I’m ashamed to say.” “So Camilla, if given the hard choice between keeping the kick of the risk plus the shame of liking it and possibly losing Cecilia and stop having affairs on the side and to make your relationship with Cecilia more stable – what would you choose? I don’t want you to answer right now but to consider the question and what you would do to create the best environment for both outcomes. Can you do that for me? And then we will discuss your choice in our next session – OK?” Camilla looked both happy and in despair. Isabella knew that this was a delicate moment in their relationship. Camilla could easily choose to flee after this session as Isabella demanded something from her a real decision leading into the future. “OK” Camilla said it and Isabella only hoped that her client would stick to her promise and return for her third session. But this was also what coaching is about. To dig into the client’s mind to find out what the core of the matter really was. And dare to plunge into the client hearts, both black and lonely. Just sitting there being nice would not lead her clients anywhere. Better to walk down Inferno lane for a while than to only sip a sunny drink in the shade learning nothing.
Camilla rose, put her yellow appearance back on and left giving Isabella a hug and an elegant kiss on her right cheek. AS she hadn’t when they met, Isabella interpreted it as a vote of confidence.
Later, when at home after her four clients and completely alone her encounter with Camilla returned into her mind. Isabella sighed and was a bit envious on Camilla. Nor only had she someone, but there was also the fact that she also got some. S.E.X. And it had been a while now for Isabella. She had not had much time to really think about it before. David, work and everything had taken up all her time. If she HAD lived with someone she would not have had the time to be faithful, let alone unfaithful. But now, all alone in her apartment, she wanted hands on her, lips on her and more. Even in her. And all she had to make do with was some boring film showing off a beary Swedish Crusader in the twelfth century. Not so sexy, not so exciting. With a warm blanket and a cup of comforting green tea she would be alright anyway, she thought. And then the silence of the black winter night would sweep her away into a hopefully dreamless sleep.
There was no room for sleeping for our killer. A detailed map had to be constructed with all the important spots marked in blue, all the routes marked in green and all the risky intersections marked in red. A list with all the items that should be used in each phase was slowly being completed too. There would be at least an hour before it would be honorable to take a nap. Still time to back down, settle for what had been accomplished so far and to quit. But realistically – the job had to be done. No real peace would come without that. But fear of both failure and fear of the job itself could easily take the better of anyone. A focusing meditation was in place, as always.