I identified so much with this person I had to share. Her words feel so authentic
I haven’t really blogged before about why I am retraining to become a counsellor. Partly because the question seems so personal. It goes to the core of who I am and what I want out of life. Also, a lot of what happens in class and in the experiential workshops involves other people , which would not be appropriate to talk about outside of that setting.
As I started University this weekend the question of why I want to be a counsellor has played on my mind. To not write about my personal journey seems wrong as if I am withholding part of my life.
So why do I want to become a counsellor?
Because I think I would be good at it. I find people and the stories we tell ourselves fascinating. In the darkest of times, counselling has been a life line for me. Sitting opposite somebody who had…
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If your privacy is important to you then you definitely must read this and respond to its message.
“I’m not “offended” by FSOG, I’m triggered by it; there is a difference.”
Her previous post on FSOG put these words in my mouth; and here she is putting them out there for me. Check out her other posts on this – they’re excellent!
Don’t worry, I’m not about to rehash all the reasons Fifty Shades of Grey reads like a manual for abusers – that’s been done thousands of times over.
I’m not about to shame every person I know who read the books, saw the movie, and enjoyed them. It’s just dumb to lose a bunch of friends over a series of poorly written literature (at least most everyone who’s read the series is unanimously agreed on that). This post isn’t for you.
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Rekedar, I agree. Being a compassionate witness to another’s hurt and suffering often serves to begin the healing process for them. Thank you for writing this. Hope you take my sharing it as a compliment to your skilful writing.
Most of what I do as a counselor, besides deep listening, is to help hold pain. Injuries linger long after the horror of events/words have slithered across my clients’ fragile hearts. Age matters not a bit; traumas big or small, remain. One reason I’m contracted to assist in the soothing of psychic wounds is that the ‘perpetrators’ and witnesses haven’t acknowledged the hurt, haven’t apologized.
Apologies don’t have to mean you’re wrong, the other’s right, you did anything deliberately. They’re more about empathy, about caring that the other’s hurt, that the relationship means more to you than your self-pride or the polarized world of right/wrong, bad/good.
No one wants reasons either, at least not up front; those won’t salve the wound. There can be explanations but only after one is attentive to the others’ pain. Apologies are not about you or about being forgiven; they’re about compassion.
My friend, “Fred,”…
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“There is a great deal of pain in life, and perhaps the only pain that can be avoided is the pain that comes from trying to ‘avoid’ pain.
R. D. Laing
The above quote by R.D. Laing has had great personal meaning for me since 1996. I printed it out and kept it in a picture frame for years – until the glass in the frame smashed and I never re-framed it. I came across it whilst reading Carl Jung’s ‘Memories, Dream & Reflections’. In a particular part of the book Jung was discussing how addiction is, to rephrase a famous quote belonging to Jung himself, “…a substitute for legitimate suffering” [should read: “’Neurosis’ is a substitute for legitimate suffering” ]. At the time I was suffering, ‘reeeeaaally’ suffering – or so I believed, and that’s why this quote from Laing grabbed my attention. In the book Jung was quoting Laing’s comments on Bill Wilson and the usefulness [I use the word ‘useful’ impartially – you make your own mind up] of the 12-step program for people with alcohol dependency. I have to say here that I was not misusing alcohol at that time, but I have done on other occasions; no, I had had put the bottle down and was in a period of personal development and growth. On a biological level I had entered a transition period. A life stage that I later discovered is called the ‘perimenapause’. It’s the stage before menopause when hormone production starts to slow down [this causes a variety of physiological changes that I won’t go in to here] and, as a result, women can experience anything from very mild to very extreme fluctuations in mood ‘and’ cognitive function. If the perimenapause occurs at a time when she is already experiencing relationship difficulties or has an existing physical illness/condition, she may find herself believing she is mentally ill. She might appear mentally ill too. She might seek help – as I did [Did help ‘find’ me? – I am still not sure which] or, she may surrender to the belief, which is confirmed to a large extent by the physiological symptoms that come and go all the time and the impact this has on those closest, that she is descending into a madness from which there is no return. And believe me, sadly, some don’t return.
The point I wish to make, in relation to the above quote and its meaning for me, is that the idea then that I might be ‘avoiding’ pain did not – I believed – apply to me. Looking back, I was actually a bit smug about the fact that I was dealing with my pain, as I thought then, ‘authentically’. But because the quote is a bit of a tongue twister I stopped to think about its meaning before moving on to the next sentence. In my mind I listed my problems [I won’t list them here]. Genuinely, I believed that I had enough problems; both in quantity and severity that there was no way I could have avoided them if I had wanted to. If there was, then I probably would have – after all, who ‘wants’ to suffer? Not me! Indeed, by then I had just begun accepting that most of the pain I was experiencing was a result of the choices I had made at other times in my life. It’s the main reason I had put the bottle down. There were a couple of things that I could not take responsibility for – like being perimenapausal and the madness it induced, for example.
I carried on reading and throughout the rest of the book, and long after I finished reading it, this quote kept coming back to me. I understood it completely and I thought it was brilliant – the concept that we substitute one problem that is causing us emotional pain for another that will also cause us emotional pain. If only hormones had not got in the way earlier! It seems irrational but we do it all the time don’t we? A simple example would be using too much painkiller for too long to manage physical pain and then believing we ‘have to have’ more of it because withdrawal will be ‘unbearable’ – more painful than the original pain, or the pain of guilt and shame we feel for having an addiction [I’m using this example without judgement. We have all sought to escape ‘the moment’ and life is made up of lots of moments which, when added together, can be – or feel like – unbearably long periods of time]. If, as I mentioned above, change had not occurred in my cognitive function also [was that a result of the perimenapause or putting the bottle down…?] I may never have understood the true meaning of those words. And all I wish to do by writing about my encounter with this quote is ask the reader to think about how ‘you’ and your loved ones ‘avoid’ emotional pain. Sometime we all need to ‘stop’ and ask ourselves “In the long run which will end up causing me, and most probably others, the greatest emotional pain. Saying what I truly feel – or swallowing my words, my opinion, my preference? Do I assert myself or protect their feelings, or their opinion of me? Should I stay with what I know and what feels familiar and safe, no matter how miserable it makes me? Which choice for me qualifies as avoidance: staying or leaving?”
We each must be prepared to answer these questions for ourselves. And in order to do that we must first be prepared to ask them. Now I am not advocating behaving insensitively in relationship to our self or others. Owning our feelings is at the heart of what Laing is saying. To make the point clearer here is another quote: “When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.” Carl Jung
Of course, over the years, the more often I recited Laing’s quote to myself the more I began to notice where, and with whom, I was trying to ‘avoid’ emotional pain. I’ve stopped feeling smug about a lot of things over the years [although I’m sure some may argue that] as a result. Keeping this quote in mind reminds me of the comedy show ‘My Name Is Earl’. When we can be brave enough to accept the moment [lots of joined up moments too] and no longer avoid emotional pain it cleans up our Karma. We deal with more people and situations authentically and so resentment, or guilt, can’t build up and cause more problems for us. Our baggage get lighter.