In the Counselling Room: A Place to Roost

In the Counselling Room: A Place To Roost

In the counselling room, I often work with individuals who have experienced trauma – specifically relational trauma, complex or attachment trauma.  In the counselling room, individuals who come to work through this kind of experience, often talk of a feeling of “not belonging” – as if they must live on the outside of their family unit – outcast even, or perhaps feeling that they just don’t fit, fit-in. Such feelings become a part of their self-image, their ideas about themselves and there begins an ongoing experience of feeling like they don’t belong, don’t fit, or fit-in.  And what of how this feels within the body?  We have phrases in our own language that talk of “feeling comfortable in our own skin”, “So and So lived a few feet away from their body” and so on.  From my former background working in Shiatsu and traditional medicine, I have long been interested in how our thoughts and emotions reverberate throughout our musculo-skeletal and other bodily systems, lodging within them, as if a carbon copy of the original experience.

In this poem, A Place to Roost I talk of such “not belonging” and how it plays out in the body.  It talks of how our memories, thoughts, feelings and beliefs in general, but also particularly when we have experienced trauma, are stored within the body and how, over time, within a trauma-aware approach, we can safely reconnect with and come to terms with them.  It talks of how, at some point, from somewhere deep within the body, lost and buried feelings start their journey to the surface, where we might sense them, acknowledge and then hear them, reconnecting with the fuller part of our own story. 

A Place to Roost:
Life on the wing, blown here and there
Where’er the wind might take you
No place to roost, or rest, like you belong

Sunrise, sunset, each new day finds you feeling
Unsafe, hurt, angry and unloved
Alone and unprotected, your whole life long

No rest was there, for you here, in Mother,
No place to anchor, root or make your home
This not belonging, a Daughter of the unloved, 
the one outside the nest, was left to roam

This not belonging, takes shape within the body
Sinews taught, “Be taut at my behest!”
A tautness, was learned over and again over, to echo down the years
No place to rest, to roost or simply to call home

Lost and buried, this not belonging – daughter of the unloved, unsafe, not wanted feelings,
Sinews holding tight on taut alert
How, then, can it feel safe to root, to roost at home within the body!
To flee, and fly at sunset became preferred

I hear at dusk the distant rook-rook-cawing
Of flocking hoards, of roosting rooks in flight,
Day’s end of light, together, all enjoying
These feelings on safe branches now alight

This Unbelonging Daughter, now her parent,
To rest within these feelings now she lands
By laying on of deeply hearing hands, her own belonging
From hearing her own longing she understands
The echoes through the years now unfolding
Tautness gradually learning to release
The deepest of her fears, now her guides, are now bestowing
Her own safe space, a place to root beneath her tears,

So deep within does body’s wisdom echo
The rooks, her feelings, make their home, their nest
And in the light of heart’s warm hearth at sunset
And finally, to roost, to root, to anchor….yes, to rest.

By Belinda Gammon.

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Walking: Strollers

How do you find yourself when you are out walking?  Is your walk a stroll, a trudge or a purposeful stride, or a mixture?  Are you walking for your general health, your mental health, or perhaps to shed a few…!  Again…a mix of the above?  For me, it is an opportunity, as ever, to connect with my direct experience, present to what is going on outside by tuning into different bodily senses.  I may hear the birdsong, see the sunshine through the trees, feel the wind on my face and smell the muckspreading – well, I do live in the country! 

This poem gives, I hope, a sense of tuning in to direct experience…

“We’re strollers, what you’d call pedestrian” they joked, as we passed, politely distanced
“Ah”, I laughed, “I try to stroll, but I always end up striding!”
Strictly speaking, not entirely true…
Just a few moments earlier, sitting down you would have found me, gazing

Through trees, their leaves laid down,
Bare bones, through which, fresh forms
upon the viewer now bestowing

As long shadows and easy sunshine
lay the land gleaming,
Dreamy spiders’ fronds floating,
Blackbird song so finely through the air fluting…
…the moment lands gently, laced with peace.

by Belinda Gammon

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In the Counselling Room: Deeply heard, safely held

In the counselling room: Deeply Heard, Safely Held

It can be helpful, when choosing a counsellor, to get some sort of feel for how they work. I work in an integrative way, a style that incorporates different approaches that enable me to adapt to the needs of each individual client. One such approach sees each individual as having many different “parts”, or “aspects” of the Self and works with you in meeting, hearing, celebrating and embracing or re-integrating each of those different parts. With this way of working, the saying goes that “there are no bad parts”.

This poem gives, I hope, a sense of how this might feel…

Deeply Heard, Safely Held
In the room, I listen deeply, 
Opening to what is said
Turning, with gentle curiosity
to what lies unsaid.
A breath, held, gasped - rasping
breath for freedom leaping.
Movements jolting freed,
mind's tension...tight clasp released.

Oh, so gentle, so safe and warm the embrace that holds 
this space for all those parts
of you, unsure at first, then surely
quietly assembling for the telling
of love's hurt, banishments too many to remember,
of loving moments, to few to light the cold and cavernous dark
Until now...

For, in the room, I listen, for
different voices, tones
Rythm, pitch and timbre, 
all, when they arrive, 
are heard, deeply and safely held.

Parts that, long unfelt or heard, sight unseen,
have rumbled in the dark.
Words, turns of phrase,
cards calling from different parts
Felt senses, lumps, colours, tones,
no words needed,
till words they come
deeply heard and safely held

Til when, the part that until now
entombed within the cells
it starts to speak its name, is
deeply heard, safely held.