Connecting Space

Connecting Space

Therapy Matters

The girl with a hole

Dear Fellow Travellers

The girl with a hole

The girl with a holeIn this newsletter, the image you see was created by Saffron (not her real name). Saffron is a client of mine, and she will be writing in this article, too, giving a client’s perspective. In 1996 I wrote an academic essay that included Saffron’s experience as someone with an eating disorder.

It makes me smile to be writing this Newsletter with Saffron. All those years ago, I had a BIG thought that one day I would like to write a book about what happens in Therapy with the client’s stand point as important as the therapist’s view. Saffron is a client who stimulated my hope that writing a book like this could be possible. The seed has germinated and here we have the first tender shoots appearing above ground.

Let’s turn to the image Saffron made. What does the image mean to me as a creative therapist? It reminds me of last month’s newsletter Healing of old Wounds. What is this wound that Saffron has at the centre of her being? I look forward to hearing what Saffron has to say.

I will begin by describing the image. I notice the strong legs stand out rather than the hole. The legs, perhaps of a 2 or 3 year old judging by her body proportions, are tentatively moving forward. But where are her arms? They seem to be part of the ray around her head. Her mouth is pink, her unfocussed eyes large and her brows slightly expectant?

There is so much complexity here: the linking up of the present with the long past, encapsulated in time by this image. Perhaps, for simplicity’s sake we can stay with the theme of eating disorders. Over to you Saffron.

When I was around 6 or 7 I had a tiny tears doll. She was very fashionable at the time and was quite simply the love of my life! But, sometimes when I was alone I rocked her back and forth in my arms, held closely in a blanket and I would be consumed by a feeling of utter sadness because I couldn’t love her enough. As I look at this self-portrait now, I’m filled again with this feeling. It’s as though the girl in the picture is my tiny tears and I want to love her better but I don’t always have enough love to give.

The hole is the most important part of the picture. I’ve known that hole from a very early age. Indeed, looking back at how I felt rocking my doll as a child I’m sure that this “hole” is the reason I felt so sad.

The girl in the picture looks very flimsy like she could float off up into the sky and nobody would notice she had gone. This is how the hole makes me feel. Often I feel insubstantial and lost. One of the ways I cope with this is to eat more than my body needs but not as much as the “hole” would like! It gives me a short-lived sense of being grounded. It makes me feel like I have some substance and temporarily eases the pain.

Learning to accept the girl with the hole has been central to my journey. Some days I still feel like a 6 year old girl who is overwhelmed by how much love is needed but I am learning to accept my self. I can accept that although eating too much food to ease the inner emptiness isn’t the best thing to do, sometimes it’s the best that I can do at the time.

Thank you, Saffron. We have begun a dialogue. The inner emptiness. This newsletter is about the connecting-space. We’ll speak again.

Kind regards from Kate and Saffron

Author: Kate • Filed under: Therapy Matters • Posted: November 1, 2006 6:57 pm

Healing Old Wounds

Dear Fellow Travellers

This month’s theme: Healing Old Wounds – “the body remembers what the mind forgets” (attributed to Mereno, who founded psychodrama).

Healing Old WoundsWhat images do you see in this painting? Does it speak to you more of wounds than healing? Or may be the title doesn’t fit how you see the picture.

Do we even view the past in terms of wounds? Perhaps what has happened in the past is past, with no connection with now? We don’t have to have had dramatic trauma in our lives to feel present dis-ease in situations. However, if we meet events in our lives that are beyond our ability to cope, this information is registered in our body. It can be laid down as a “wound” that festers, inhibiting and crippling us in the present and the future.

I believe that our body is a container holding subliminal reactions to our daily life. That inner response, scarcely noticed, has a cumulative affect, influencing future choices. For instance, certain “low” feelings may be a reaction to something said in a passing conversation. That comment may link with past experiences of failure. The voice inside us may tell us, in the next choice presented to us, that “there is no point…”. This “giving up” is seen in the problem shown below.

“once again im struggling, every thing is building up and up, dont have anyone to talk to, no one seems to understand me, feel i should stop trying to be heard because it doesnt get me any where. ive given up”

(from “Sue”)

Sue is feeling in her body the old wounds building up. The body sense is very familiar to her. That sense of struggling, reminding us, perhaps, of someone drowning, fighting for breath. Sue hears herself talking to herself because no one else understands her. Yet, I can imagine that many of you reading this are nodding your head, thinking: “I know just what she means”.

What are the wounds Sue is suffering from and is there any healing? Sue doesn’t say what the historical wounds are, only the psychological effects she is living with.

Another problem submitted is concerned with a present decision that has its roots in the person’s relationship with her mother. This person, “Janet”, wonders whether she should go to her mother’s funeral even though she hasn’t seen her in 10 years.

It is sad, but many of us, who feel that no one understands, will probably have had a mother who was not able to build an intimate relationship with her child. The child has missed that body sense of Someone who Hears them and can be trusted.

Sue has struggled for so long to be heard, she is now at the point of giving up. Janet gave up on her mother years before and perhaps sees it as hypocritical to do the expected thing by going to the funeral. I would suggest that Janet trusts her body sense in making the decision. When, recently, I heard my brother had died, I felt unable, for many reasons, to go to the funeral and said so. But then, through circumstances and a body sense of “yes”, I went to the funeral after all. My body gave me an inner confirmation. My decision was not based on what people may think, but on what I perceived as “right”.

Sue needs to be heard and understood. Her wounds will be “old” going back to her earliest years. There will be further historical wounds added to this causing her to feel hopeless. This letter is only a drop in the ocean of hearing something of what she is voicing.

The artwork above is a doodle I did when feeling low, listening to the different parts of me. Noticing your feelings and doing something that respects them, whether through making an image, writing or simply speaking aloud, can help sustain you in your struggle with wounds that ache from the past.

This newsletter is called the “Connecting-Space” because I hope it will mean you can hear your own voice more clearly and that by connecting with others you will be strengthened. Next newsletter may be written by one of my clients.

Kind regards, Kate

Author: Kate • Filed under: Therapy Matters • Posted: October 1, 2006 8:45 am

Incorruptible

Dear Fellow Travellers
This is the beginning of a new journey for me: connecting with like-minded people in cyberspace. Even as I write this, my inner eye is blinking at “like-minded”. What does that phrase mean?

Incorruptible

At the centre (oh, the eye is blinking again) of most individuals there is a desire to move and grow, be truly who they believe they can possibly be. Again my inner eye, or “sense”, is attempting to find a language that communicates. This type of inner interaction is part of Gestalt here-and-now, self-awareness understanding. As I pay attention to this inner dialogue I am faced with multiple choices. How do I find the right or best choice?

Well, let’s return to my inner eye, the locus for my raison d’être. One clear reason I have for being is in finding the live contact-boundary within whatever situation life presents. The fictional problem sent by Sighing Susan is a very common contact-boundary issue, causing immense potential conflict if not addressed. She asks whether she should “keep quiet and not bother”. If she were in therapy with me, this issue would be addressed on a personal basis, for instance:

  1. looking at aspects of her past relationships (family cycles in particular)
  2. whether the relationship with her partner has been like this from the beginning (or has something changed to effect it?)
  3. finding positive ways of improving intimacy (looking for strategies)

As I connect with like-minded people in cyberspace, like your selves, I can only begin where I am. I am in an open space with many possible solutions, few of which will apply to you who are reading this letter — because we are all different. I can dish out advise, or I can point you toward more eternal values, which are somehow above and beyond how tiresome it is when our intimate relationships don’t work as we want them to.

My inner eye is telling me I have gone as far as I can go, at present. If you join me on this journey we can explore the issues together. There is no right or wrong way of doing things, no blame within the context of honest exploration. Being on a journey with others is about listening and responding.

If you would like to contribute to this newsletter, please send me a problem. I will do my best to include what I read and “hear” into further letters.

Kind regards, Kate

Author: Kate • Filed under: Therapy Matters • Posted: September 1, 2006 5:56 am

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