He wasn't a therapist, coach or counsellor and I'm not in the habit of inviting strange men into my home for an exchange of verbal intimacies. He was an exception to my rule because he was there for a very good reason.
Yesterday, I listened to the recording of our conversation. I listened to myself talking about those deeply personal things. I listened. And in doing so, I gave myself a voice I'd never had before.
Karl James runs The Dialogue Project. He records people talking about difficult subjects to show that it's possible to discuss them; it's possible to be honest. He's using dialogue, in his own words, to 'create better understanding and positive change in a challenging world'. That was why he came to my flat - and a good enough reason to let him in.
As a life coach, I do a lot of listening - the kind that has to be free of judgement, criticism or the need to come up with a bigger and better story than the one I'm listening to.
It's a powerful thing being heard.
And Karl did for me what I aim to do for others. He created a safe space to explore a subject that mattered. By the end of it, I felt more like me. I felt... integrated. Listening to the recording now, I can hear it.
And the version of me - that strange voice captured on tape like a message from the other side - has plenty to say to the me who's sitting here right now.
Of course there are many different aspects to the person I am, each having something useful to say about what will make me happy. There's the little girl who swings her legs and giggles - she tells me not to take life too seriously - and there's the twinkling, strong, independent old woman of my future who reminds me who I could become. But for now, I choose to listen to the Olivia of last month. The one who surprised me. Because she deserves to be heard.