Friday, 5 November 2010

The Sound of Silence

This evening I watched the last of a television series on Silence. Its a subject that has always held a fascination for me and which I had first hand experience of when I was training to be a Counsellor.

At the end of each day of study we had a class called 'Personal Development' in which a group of students would meet with a Supervisor. There were no instructions on what was expected of us. We had no clue whether we were to talk or remain silent. The Supervisor offered no guidance and we were left to our own devices.

It was fascinating to see how threatened and uncomfortable some of us felt and how we chose to fill the silence. During the first session, after much bumbling around aimlessly, grasping at subjects to talk about, the Supervisor somewhat imperiously told us that we were talk only about what was happening in the room and not outside it. This reduced us all to silence and a lot of getting really closely accquainted with our feet and the floor.

Eventually, after some weeks of this - (during which I was getting more and more frustrated and irritated - it all seemed such a waste of time to me, after all it'd been a long day, I had two children at home waiting etc etc) we started talking about how the silence and lack of knowing what to do was affecting us. We filled the silence but with meaningful interactions about how we felt at a very deep level.

At the end of each term, we'd offer feedback to each other about how we had interacted and honestly, that was the most important learning that took place for me. I realised we were recreating our roles in our families and that mine had been to observe everything that happened in minute detail but to keep it to myself. Seeing this, and with encouragement from the other group members, I learned to find my voice.

I guess thats why I've always written - diaries, letters etc. The written word is the medium with which I feel most comfortable. Although now, at last, I can speak my mind.

Monday, 26 April 2010


What lurks in the shadows beneath?

What flutters from view as you turn your head to look over your shoulder?

There is something not quite tangible. Something you are not quite sure you want to catch.

It is a shadow. Flickering in the flame. Distorted out of shape as it hits the surfaces.

Elusive to the touch. A flighty thing that sits at your shoulder. Taunting.

Jung says that shadows are the parts of ourselves that we reject. If it doesn’t fit with our self-concept then it is discarded to the hinterland of darkness, un-examined.

How strange, to possess a part of yourself that you do not take ownership of – that you deny. It is there, affecting and infecting your interactions in the world, your relationships with others, your views and actions in life. And yet, we cannot bear to look.

Is it then, to the Shadowlands, that we depart when sanity leaves us? Is it into the depths of ourselves, those discarded parts, that we plummet in the grip of madness.

I met a mad woman once. She could not prevent herself from speaking her every thought. There was no filter, no social constraint, no urgency to conform. She was deemed to be mentally ill. I envied her a little, although she scared me. I wanted to speak without censoring myself. 'Ramblings' they would call her words. The ‘ramblings’ of a mad woman. A woman who to me, saw the world as it was, including the shadows and she wasn’t fearful of raising them as a topic of conversation.

Nietzsche said ‘Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings – always darker, emptier, simpler’. These things are what the mad woman was deemed to have become – dark, empty, simple but she was filled with vision and she wasn’t prepared to keep it to herself.

She held her shadows up to the light and, she dared to say as much.

Saturday, 17 April 2010


'I have kissed too many frogs' she said after yet another disappointment. 'There is no such thing as too many kisses' she was told by a trusty romantic.

She continued her quest with almost military precision. Five more contacts, she vowed and that will be an end to it. She was tired of applying make-up.

HE was the only one she was interested in she told the friendly romantic. HE was the last one to respond. HE was the only one she agreed to meet. HE sounded quite barking when they spoke on the phone. She was greatly encouraged by this.

They spoke twice before meeting at Charing Cross Station. She was queuing to pay for her ticket. HE walked past her. She turned her back. She found herself nervous. She did NOT do nervous ... despite the frog situation.

She had an overwhelming urge to hide, to jump back on the train and make an excuse for not showing up. She resisted the urge .... actually had to fight it down. She hid behind a pillar watching him.

HE was very dapper. She didn't co-ordinate. HE looked almost cocky. She was very shy. HE looked as though he hadn't a care in the world. She thought her legs might give way underneath her. She text her friendly romantic.... 'oh dear, I like the way he looks' .... the friendly romantic text back 'do I sense a lapse in the rules coming on?'.

She approached him. Suddenly her eyes started watering madly and her mascara proceeded to drip off her chin. HE produced from his pocket a handkerchief ... not a tissue ... a cotton handkerchief for her to wipe her eyes. And, what is more, he walked on the outside.

She knew.