couples-image 26 Jan 2018

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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The Price of Love No 2.

Couple Dilemmas

Forks in the road of life appear to involve choices. But it is never clear that there was actually a choice at all once the ‘decision’ has actually been taken to go this way or that. Given the existence of an infinite number of parallel worlds or, to put it another way, an infinite number of possible action choices, it is sometimes very hard to say with absolute conviction exactly why this or that one is or was the one we chose.

And so we try to be ‘ecological’ or ‘organic’ about the decisions we make in the hope that this will at least enable us to have been as true as we can be to ourselves or our beliefs about what is right. But history shows that beliefs can be used to justify all kinds of awful actions. So if we cannot be certain about what we are doing, the best thing seems to be to try to be true to what we feel in our hearts is right, even, perhaps, if it subsequently turns out to have been wrong.

When you are in a cleft stick or double bind in your very closest, most important relationship with another person, for example about whether to tell him or her the truth about something you have done perhaps for fear of causing hurt to one or both of you or the relationship between you, there just isn’t a ‘right’ thing to do. Whatever you do will be wrong – telling the truth will be hurtful, but not telling it will be a betrayal of the trust your partner has in you.

The way of this world sadly is that sometimes, at least, whatever we do will be wrong.

So what should you do in such circumstances? I wish I knew. The least ‘wrong’ or hurtful thing? But if so, least hurtful to whom or to what? To your significant other? To yourself? To the relationship between you? And how do you know?  Whatever choice you make will have a relationally discombobulating effect like that of the ancient Paradox of the Liar (“This sentence is not true”) and serve to create distance in your relationship.

So, all you can do is try to cause as little harm as possible.  Alternatively, you could perhaps avoid relationships in the first place, retreat from the world altogether, become a hermit, a recluse.

But we live in a world of other people. If you have chosen to try to stay In this world of relationships with others, you have to recognise that sometimes ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’ and to therefore be prepared to own up when a decision you made proves to have been harmful or wrong and hope that the love and respect you have for your partner and his or hers for you will be ‘sufficient unto the day’ and that he or she will forgive you the hurt you inadvertently perpetrated.

If we always knew what was right we wouldn’t be human.


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

For more information on Carrie, visit: TheSurreyCentre/Counsellors

dreams 19 Jan 2018

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Dreams again. Again!

I remember I used to sometimes remember fragments of dreams on waking in the morning and maybe once or twice a week I would occasionally remember having a dream in the middle of the night. But all that has changed now I am une ancienne. I seem to dream most of the night every night now. Remembering all of them would be impossible. I have far too many to try to remain conscious of them all. And they do, after all, arise when we are asleep and therefore, by definition, unconscious.

Even if we could retain them in our awareness, remembering them is of secondary importance to just being in them and feeling them. Looking for their symbolic meaning once we are awake matters as much as we choose to make it matter. But dreaming itself will go on whether we try to ‘interpret’ particular meanings or not. So, what is it that dreams do?

My feeling is they give us secret access to every possible alternative reality we can imagine.  Secret in the sense of our waking awareness, that is. We may remember some sequences from some dreams, or just some fragmentary images, but either way very little indeed when it comes down to it. What matters is simply being in our dreams, having them and being had by them. I would argue it matters to them too.

Why? Is it to give us access to all the parallel worlds that can possibly exist? And to give them access to ours? I would think there is no doubt whatsoever about that, if only because that’s the way it seems to be. But more specifically, which of all the possible worlds needs us the most?

Is it the dead we need to feel and hear and listen to? If so, what are they wanting to tell us? What is so important to them that they still weave themselves into the narratives of our dreams?

Possible answers to these questions can only be put generally in this blog. Generally then, it seems to me that the past and future dead want us to be much more aware of how important our feelings are. We already know fairly well about the importance of facts and actions and relationships, but we seem to know very little of how and why feelings matter. It is as if the dead want to tell us they should have reflected more upon their emotional drives and responses before and after they flew into relationships, actions and facts. They seem to want to tell us this is why we should make emotional connections across all the parallel worlds they let us into while we sleep. Love, hate, joy, envy, rivalry, teamwork, sadness, elation, etc, etc. These are the things that we need to know better in ourselves if we want to improve the quality of our lives and make the world, and all the parallel worlds we visit in our dreams, a better place or places in which to live.


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

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

Rolling-and-coasting 12 Jan 2018

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Rolling and Coasting

Uphill, downhill, and up again and down again we go through the lengths of our lives. But particularly, or so it seems, in earlier and later life. During our middle years, generally speaking, things are more level, stable and predictable.

But following entry into this world squeezed through our mothers’ birth canals and before we leave it again, squeezed once more, but this time out, by the narrowing down and unstoppable diminishment of our capacities and abilities in preparation for departure, it can sometimes feel unbearably difficult.

As babies, unless we are orphaned, we have the help of our mothers and fathers to develop and mature, but as old people, our children not having done it yet, often all we have is ourselves, especially perhaps if we are women with our demographically slightly longer lifespans than those of men.

But the grim, slow, sometimes and eventually, rapid slide downhill into oblivion and death, hard though it is as we become more and more physically compromised and socially marginalised, is also wonderfully reassuring!

What???!!!   I must be mad to say such a thing! A hypocrite too with my aching bones and tired oversensitive lungs and the increasing number of doctor’s appointments I make now that I am becoming ancient.

But here’s why I mean it:

With the narrowing of what we can do comes an expansion of our depth of appreciation of what is involved in, and what it means to be, alive.

With the squeeze on living friends and contemporaries as they die off one by one, comes a wonderful expansion of the feelings attached to our memories and experience of them and of all of life.

With the ongoing arrival of new persons on the planet facing the same issues as we did, but hopefully managing them better, it is so reassuring to see our children and our children’s children dealing with the fantastic breadth and scope of time continuously doing its thing on their development as it is still doing on ours till we’re gone.

With all the dead before us deep within our biological memories and our dreams, and all those before them deep within theirs, and so on, back to the beginning of time, it is so reassuring too to know that we have all played our part in the development of human consciousness across the millennia.

With all this and more besides who is not to say that whilst all the wrapping of our lives unravels in old age and blows away into the mists of history when we die, that it wasn’t all – all of it, perhaps especially in the dying – just the most fabulous thing to feel, to experience, to perceive and to love?


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

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

stars 05 Jan 2018

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Nightmares

This morning I woke from a nightmare, went downstairs and stepped outside into a clear, pre-dawn darkness and saw more stars than I remember ever seeing before from this part of London. The clarity of the stars and constellations in the sky and the intensity of the dream I’d just had seemed to merge in to the embodied physicality of my sense of being alive just then. Internally my dream had left me feeling the overwhelming presence of the dream state, and externally the shining night sky had such a pristine calm about it that it felt equally real. So a dream in which acute shame, sheer stupidity and loss had prompted an emotional response of great distress, had somehow also caused me to feel more merged, more at one with the otherwise serenely distant, uninvolved basket of stars and planets in which we live.

Is this what nightmares are for? To bring us closer emotionally to absolute things and to do so by way of devilishly detailed, horrible narratives? To things over which the human condition brings us no control? I mean if even as we dream of terrifying things are we not, in feeling them so intensely, also nevertheless bringing back feeling, and how we feel it, into our awareness? Well, we are. Whether we like it or not and usually we don’t, of course. But nightmares are often, in feeling terms anyway, so much more memorable than dreams with little or no, almost bland, emotional tone to them. (More about which another time). And what a paradox it is that the profoundly disturbing (nightmares) can bring a person closer to the profoundly uplifting.  It seems to say, to me at least, that we are here on earth primarily to feel; and as human beings to then know what we feel and be aware of it.  I am emphatically not trying minimise the awfulness of nightmares. I am less sure that I am not trying to say that really they are good for us in some kind of as yet not fully understood way. Although that might indeed be true, if only by way of stirring up the pot and discharging our accumulated tensions, fears and hurts by bringing them, or at least the feeling and stand-out images from them into our waking consciousness. In particular, the waking nightmares of war, disease, famine, and climate (change) disasters, are all unequivocally horrendous. As unequivocally as a shining, starlit night is distant but gorgeous.

The human experience is one of both joy and suffering and every conceivable combination between. Yes. But why, on earth, should it be that the extremes of experience, of what appear to be opposites, like the poles of our planet, and the internal and external, are subjectively experienced as somehow and in some way being made of the same stuff? Ice in the case of the poles. But what exactly in the case of stars and dreams? Could it be that although understanding and insight changes nothing, in having it we are given the chance individually to make what we will of our own unique experience to take with us to our graves? Could it be, that just as suffering and sorrows are visited upon us, so also are stars and dreams? I felt the cake of my nightmare was definitely ‘mine’ despite how absurdly it had mixed and baked the ingredients from my life experience. But equally strongly I felt the stars were ‘mine’ too, (my perception of them anyway). Despite their distance they felt reassuringly familiar, like family.

Could it even be that we are the stuff of stars? Just imagine!


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

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