feather 29 Dec 2017

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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When? Then!

When?

When dreams are cruel. When thoughts which go nowhere keep on coming. When everything frustrates. When not even loneliness offers any consolation. When shape and form and coherence spin only into negations which cannot even be dignified with the term ‘chaos’. When there is no escape from always failing to escape, even when you’ve given up trying. When nothing would be preferable to going round in jagged circles. When a headache is permanent. When sleep is torture…

Then!

Then it is time to let time let go. To play in the sand. To stand on the edge of eternity enjoying the clouds below. To smile at the sense of it all. To breathe in the scent of timelessness and take comfort from having been in time. To feel the merging of the cellular with the stellar. To step into the paddling pool. To feel no conflict anymore. To know why all the ‘why’s ever asked are rings of roses. To taste every colour and see every scent. To be touched by everything ever seen by anyone.

When?

When I am sad. When I am lonely. When my light no longer lifts me. When every past problem feels so present. When I am no-one and nothing and yet still have feelings, like a ghost. When I am overwhelmed by how I am. When I am the mud left behind after a flood. When my sense of me doesn’t matter anymore. When my hopes and despairs merely reflect how useless I am. When I don’t know anything anymore. When I am adrift in a stagnant sea of uncaring…

Then!

Then it is time to take heart from it all, from the awful to the wondrous and all things in between. To let every last little thing be like a baby to be cared for. To let every last large thing be babies too. To be the ruffle in a bird’s feather and the recognition in a child’s smile. To caress the wind. To wash the rain. To make the earth solid. The blood red. The sky blue. You me and me you. To hold fast. To let go. When then is now innocence and experience, feelings and facts can all be one with the sun.


Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam/

neurons-840 22 Dec 2017

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Hypotheticals

Perhaps if we didn’t know how loss and death feel we  couldn’t know love and happiness.
So perhaps only happiness and love help us absolutely realise what death and loss are for.

Perhaps if events did not randomly blow across into our lives we would never know change.
So perhaps it is wisdom which spins the winds and makes them blow what we need to know.

Perhaps it is not just an astrophysical fairy tale that our big shining  dreams come from the stars.
So perhaps we are the vast stars themselves dreaming us in their blinking, twinklings of light.

Perhaps the billions of neurons bubbled up in our brains enable everything else everywhere.
So perhaps it is all things everywhere which give birth to the billions of neurons in our brains.

Perhaps the work of our lives is both to feel and to know, and to know and feel that we do.
So perhaps feeling and knowing what we know and feel, is what really makes our lives work.

Perhaps to truly live and find meaning in so doing means cocking a snook at meaninglessness.
So perhaps meaninglessness prompts our imaginations from fervid belief to irreverent laughter.

Perhaps the infinite number of parallel worlds proves that all possible things are truly actual.
So perhaps the truly actual is all and everything across time and space, including nothing at all.

Perhaps if these hypotheses had as much credibility as our ‘certainties’ do our  humility could fly.
On its wings to wonder at everything, we could see each one of us as the measure of humanity.


Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam/

sky at night 15 Dec 2017

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Darkness

As a child and younger person, and like most people I suppose, I loved to look at the stars in the night sky. But for some years I have been more interested in the space between the stars*, the darkness. Not like an astrophysicist in dark matter; just in the matter of darkness, what it means.

With the nights having drawn in, and being older now so I sleep less well at night anyway, there is plenty of time during my waking periods at night to think about darkness.

When we are actually asleep we cannot think about darkness just because we are enveloped within it. Consciously thinking about the state we are in when and while we are actually asleep, at this current time in human history and except perhaps for mystics and charlatans, is an oxymoronic step too far. We can’t do it. Being within the darkness of sleep is a time and space for trusting that all be well and just letting ourselves be in it.

As if we were a baby and the darkness of sleep was a kind of mother, nurturing us.

People who come for psychotherapy or counselling often, if not always, arrive feeling trapped in a kind of darkness by the feelings and circumstances troubling them.  Although it is silly to generalise, and with apologies to people who lack visual sightedness, they somehow feel blind, in the dark, about just how their lives can possibly become less troubling.

But what if it was that very darkness, including the feeling of being trapped, which enables us to feel more in touch with what we are feeling, with how and who what really matters to us as we journey through our lives? What if it tells us what really matters to us?

When the poet Dylan Thomas was a young man and his father was dying he suggested that one should not ‘go gentle in to that good night’ but should instead ‘rage, rage against the dying of the light’.

Well, perhaps it depends what time it is in the day of our lives!

By which I mean the darkness of sleep and ultimately the darkness of death (if not the penultimate process of dying which can often undoubtedly be awful) should be embraced as part of life.

It is a comfort to go into the darkness and sleep. As death is where we are all going in the end anyway, perhaps we should let it be a comfort? I am not arguing for self harm or suicide at all, but perhaps the darkness, the not knowing, the letting go, means, as Julian of Norwich (a woman) put it, all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well!

* ’The space between the stars’ is a reference to my collection of poems entitled, ‘Engenderings’, by Cairns Clery, (Cairns is my middle name) and published by Chipmunka in 2012.


Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam/

young-happy-couple 08 Dec 2017

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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The Price of Love

When we love someone as a partner and live with them, married or otherwise, we give them our trust committing ourselves to giving them the best and the worst of ourselves in return for the same from them. There are limits, of course. Sexual betrayal is often one of them, as is violence, although the fact that it is happening already suggests that the trust barrier which holds the relationship together has been breached. And there are many other limits, including the discovery over time of intellectual, emotional and spiritual incompatibilities. And ultimately, of course, the great delimiter itself, death.

But assuming the couple relationship is intact and stable enough, that the mutual trust between partners is sufficiently containing to enable emotional exchange, some of its main characteristics and patterns can, and in my view must, be identified, lest the power embedded in it by aeons of previous (ancestral) couple relationship patterns threatens to destroy it. That’s putting it on a bit strong you might say. But think about it. Thousands and thousands of years of couple relationships have gone before our own. They didn’t just have sex together! They had love, respect, closeness, differences, arguments, grudges, forgivenesses, etc., just like we do now.

Also, just like we have now, there existed more subtle, less obvious but just as deeply affecting relational patterns between them, that we are still at risk with our most significant other of  habituating between ourselves now. We ignore these less obvious, deeply affecting habituated patterns at our psychological peril. For example, a pattern of not talking with each other for days, weeks, months or even years on end about what we are feeling, and ironically perhaps for what may have been perfectly good reasons at first, over time becomes emotionally damaging. Or even more subtly, doing the opposite of that and talking about what we are feeling together, but not talking about the way in which we are talking about it and the way in which that affects us, can also have an insidiously harmful effect both on ourselves and on our relationship. So that we may over time perhaps position ourselves, regardless of which biological sex we happen to belong to and what age we happen to be chronologically, into too often and for too long being caught up in a pattern of behaving more like a mother or more like a child in relation to the other.

Why this can happen is a subject for another blog and of course is unique to each couple and each individual member of it. But for now, I would just urge you to consider how what you do and how you behave affects the person you are coupled with and to talk about it together in a spirit of respectful, mutual enquiry. If you love him or her, it is vital to always try to pay them the respect of listening not just to what they are saying but also to the way in which they are saying it without falling into a redundant pattern of defensiveness or aggression.

The price of love in couple relationships can in part be paid by proactively and deliberately setting aside special ‘couple time’ together as often as possible, daily if you can, if only for an hour or two, in which the one rule is that you only behave with total and absolute respect for the other, just like you did when you first fell in love.


Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam/

lifted-image 01 Dec 2017

BY: Alastair Dodwell

Anxiety / Therapy

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The ‘problem of evil’

I want to think briefly about this old chestnut: ‘If there is an all-seeing, all-powerful, benevolent God why would S/He render us so vulnerable and have us live in a world of suffering and finally death?’ Two things have prompted me to want to linger for a moment with this question. The first is the fact that so many people I meet in my work struggle at some point with how to come to terms with the random, ultimately tragic nature of the human condition. The second is the imminence of Christmas with its connotations  of family and cribs etc,.

One small blog isn’t going to scratch the surface of the surface of this question which, I hasten to add, and without meaning any rudeness to people of faith, I am not addressing from a religious perspective.  I am just going to share a few simple and parochial, human-focussed thoughts about the idea of an infant god – i.e., the baby Jesus – which our ‘Christian’ culture reifies and commodifies at this time of year. If you want to use them as a springboard from which to take your own dive into this question’s deeper waters, go ahead!

Now if, for want of a better descriptor, this ‘infantile’ aspect of the idea of God is to be properly considered from a human point of view then we have to think about babyhood, about babies, how they are, what they need etc,. If this is right then it follows that the specifically infantile aspect of ‘God’, in human terms, needs mothering, nurturing, being cared for, and so on. And fathering – being raised and then helped on out into the world of other people, of work, politics, etc,.

As a human concept then, does ‘God-as-an-infant’’ need feeding and nurturing, as we do, by way of our feeding and nurturing our babies and children? Bringing them up to find their own moral feelings and encouraging them as they mature to do kind, humane things in the world so that the ‘work of God’ (i.e., being distinctively human rather than just animalistic) can fully be realised?

More contentiously perhaps, does this humanised notion of ‘God-as-an-infant’ mean that having entered time and space, here on earth ‘God’ may actually be learning Him/Herself to be completely helpless and dependent in the first instance, and then learning to walk as a toddler, to fall over, to cry and to need comfort, to grow older, to become pubertal, to have moods, even to make mistakes? And as adults, most of us, to bring up children, to work, to struggle with ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in our lives, to suffer physical and emotional pain, and eventually to die? Conceptually speaking, does this child aspect of ‘God’ mean that we humans, as sentient animals, have both to suffer and to grow old and to die, and at the same time, as knowingly sentient human creatures, also to find morality and kindness (i.e., love in the most inclusive meaning of that word, rather than war, selfishness etc.,) while we do so, in order to enable ‘God-as-an-infant’ to develop and mature into an adult?  Are we, therefore, in a ‘spiritually’ emotional way, partly more grown-up than this infantile aspect of our creator? Don’t we have to be? (And if so, shouldn’t we do what we can, to actually de-commodify our celebration of it at this time of year, find a way to return to a more authentic ‘Spirit of Christmas’?).

Maybe this kind of thinking takes a tiny, baby-sized step towards answering the very big question why our existence requires suffering and ultimately, death. And if an implication of it is that we humans are a part of ‘God’ learning what love is, that is a theological issue and therefore not for this blog.


Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam/