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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