CoViD19: A Conspiracy?

Managing the anxiety of COVID19 and the surrounding conspiracy theories that go along with the outbreak, the spread, and the intentionality of the disease has been both amazing and tiring. I realise that this blog has the potential to sail close to a conspiracy. I will watch my tone as I explain my thinking.

Bare with me.

Stupefying
Amazing in that we want to make meaning from the amount of emails, WhatsApp shares, Twitter updates, Facebook Posts, News feeds and radio bulletins. Some information can be useful and thought provoking. Some information perhaps…

Exhaust
The tiring part for me is the conspiracy theories and secret society imaginings. Sent my way by well-meaning friends and family. The aim of the sender to receiver (me) is to inform and provide some good or useful information. Sometimes…

Foil Hats as seen first: Gumball

Alarm
The effect of sharing conspiracy, is that when in a state of concern or panic the person who receives this information isn’t calmed or soothed. The oppoite effect is achieved. The receiver has a number of choices with this fear engendering information. They can either share it, or keep it to themselves. The want to be helpful in a seemingly helpless situation: CoViD19, can override an inbuilt system of holding onto suspicious unhelpful or slanderous material.

Critical Awareness
Using the ability to be suspicious/cautious of the intent of the information could be useful. Helping to begin a process of distancing ourselves from a heightened fear response. By engaging the human part of the brain (see Chimp Paradox) and keeping our minds thinking (pre-frontal cortex), potentially is the desired goal! Jumping to conclusions, or *scud assessments could be unhelpful in maintaining our equilibrium or anyone else’s.

Panicked Pattern
First the unasked for idea or information arrives. On viewing of the sensory overwhelming video, our bodies react. The body is flooded by a cortisol response. We do not need to be aware/conscious of the response but our blood stream becomes a souped up system. Ready for Fight, Flight, Freeze or Friend. The response is automatic. Our heart rate may quicken, we might lose our appetite, we may find concentration on other topics evaporate. We simply want to act. Simply act we often do.

Confusion
There is an interesting case that happened with laughter in the 60s. The event spanned months and started in a school in Tanzania. An incident caused a pupil in school to laugh uproariously which sparked a contagion that affected a community. I have walked and talked with clients who when realising the enormity of their situation have become both extremely upset and uproariously giddy with laughter. The event is called a psychogenic illness.

Wildfire
There may have been times when something like a confused response happens in the face of a significant life changing event. A joke, a youtube video is as ludicrous or upsetting as it is funny and witnessing the scene causes the viewer, to be swept up with the happy confused state. In these moments laughing without a care, with tears streaming and mouths agape can be cathartic. Relieving a pressure build up. The passing of joy can consume us. Hilarity can bring us face to face with our humanity.

An simulation of the virus

World Wide Worries
The opposite affect can also be true when we have a concern. We seek truth and facts in all the right and appropriate spaces, and also in all the wrong places. News feeds. News cycles. Social media. The spinning and circulating of an ever growing concern. On this occasion it happens to be a global pandemic. Covid19 has consumed all hours and all days in an endless stream of updates, worries and many deaths. What then happens is when seeking truth, the material is passed forward. Asking friends if they have also seen or heard?

Corona Virus Disease 2019: CoViD19
The latest news about the deadly virus takes its discomforting place in our psyche’s. There stored the fear wreaks havoc with our natural defences: positive psychology, family ties and connections, friends, community, religious and philosophical gatherings, eating habits, work patterns, school and education, financial planning – all affected. The invitation is that we hold to this new reality like a raft in a storm, hoping it will bring us safely to shore. Can this vessel, with scant resources and ill meaning to humanity offer us sanctity?

Do or Do Not
Unlike the psychogenic laughing bug. Once caught the hysteria and hyperbolic concepts are passed along, they do little to make us feel better. Sharing, seals in the yuck with cortisol and adrenaline running the show.

What could help would be, to mentally walk away from the information and critique it. Rather than be pulled into a belief that all of the thinking, neg vid sharing, hand washing, policy making will deliver us from the disease.

Stay with the Known Knowns: Our world will change. It always has. What act will you perform to support yourself and others in the face of the pandemic?

Resources
Fear is Contagious – T.E.D. Talks
This American Life — One Last Thing
Ear Hustle – Us and Them
This is Money – How Bad…
Unlocking Us – Brené Brown and Alicia Keys

Images
Cover photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash
1st Inlay photo by Tom Radetzki on Unsplash
2nd Inlay photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

This piece was inspired by a conversation with a counselling client PK. Thank you!

Ascent: Looking like a long way up.

Sticking With It: Challenge

Writing short little epithets, as seen below, after completing a 10-minute meditation has been a part of my meditation practice for just over a year. After nearly 400 days of continual practice with the Calm app, I am open to continue with the learning and growing. Recognising that I have an inquisitive and restless mind has been testing. Finding a practice that reduces anxiety has been useful for me to develop a better understanding of myself. The practice of 10-15 minute meditation every day also supports maintain my focus at this challenging time of World History.

Wise words
The quote from calm that inspired this post was – ‘Let difficulty transform you. And it will. In my experience, we just need help in learning how not to run away’ by Pema Chodron.

My response
@calm ‘Noticing that challenges are made to be overcome and they are as much ‘How’ as they are ‘When’. Ask for guidance or help when needed #meditation.

To the quick
The example of the short quip above, is an effort to show that I understand the difficulty of not turning in the opposite direction. Away from the source of uncomfortable challenge. Making a fail safe leave plan when things get tough. Like now!

Healers
There is an attempt to take the quote and re-interpret Pema Chodrin’s words. I then offer both the quote and my interpretation as a support. You may have seen the quote/remix on various social media spaces I inhabit. The quote/remixes are also a way to share that, should someone want access to mental health support I know of many who could be of impactful assistance.

Challenge as a bridge

Target 400
After 395 days of consistent daily meditation practice and a solid bombardment of information about the Corona-virus/COVID-19 pandemic. My need for meditation happens to be both an escape and a cure to return the mind to a steady hum. I have found the practice to be a salve.

Reset
The hype, hysteria and hyperbole of the disease and recognisable human responses including denial, panic buying, hoarding, frequent information fly wheel gathering, does little to aid our capacity to find a level state of mindful yet calm awareness. In fact it is often quite the opposite.

How
To overcome a challenge is a request to understand what it is and how it may affect things for you, family, friends and colleagues. See the challenge as a problem to solve. Aim at becoming creative and communicate with others about what the challenge is and see if others have met/experienced a similar difficulty and what they did? Rarely are you the only person to have faced a problem like it. Accepting advice could be an appropriate way to make it to the other side.

When
That can all depend on you. Running away from the challenge usually puts the difficulty off for an undefined length of time. But, it will return. It usually is an universal phenomena. ‘Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today’ was a saying my mum would say to me. Possibly her mum may have said it to her too when she was in her teens.

Train
It would be understandable to remove yourself from a challenge for a short time, build up the necessary skills, strength, understanding and then return and overcome said problem.

Result
The outcome for getting beyond the difficulty is the learning we gain from doing so. Being a life-long learner and a perpetual student of life supports growing past false limitations, possibly put in place by others. Apply understanding and continue honing, growing and improving. I believe growing after facing adversity is one of the best achievements of our lives. Becoming a therapist is a part of that story for me, but so is becoming a father, supervisor, lecturer, writer

Resources
Tom Bilyeu Impact Theory: Agent Smith
Science of Success with Jim Kwik

Images
Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash
Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash

Worry

The idea of worry is that once we start we aren’t able to stop. But we can! We are able to critically evaluate the usefulness of the concern and downgrade it. Match it to reality we curate.

Frivolous
The activity is a pointless engagement and I will go in to what worry could be useful later on in this blog.

Generally the worries we become involved with are to do with scenarios we can see happening.

What we can do to either prevent them or how we might make things better if they were to occur.

RTA One of my consistent worries is being involved with a road traffic accident (RTA). I am either a pedestrian or a driver of a vehicle. The few accidents I have been a part of included me crashing into another car after another ploughed into mine. Another accident involved a bike colliding with a car door flung open to change places with my wife who was driving at the time and me on a bike and a car crashing into me. Some were not that serious. So what does this particular worry pertain to?

Prediction
Few if any can predict the future. But we almost want to tell our brains/minds that we can sort of manage the imagined situation if it were to happen. Take the RTA of mine. The useless idea was imagining what the pain, what the hurt and the mess that will happen if an accident did happen again.

A useful idea on worry would be to positively create the steps as to what should happen if ever I was involved in another accident for example,

call my wife,

call the police,

check if the other person is okay,

check that no further traffic can be happen,

check your body for damage,

review damage to vehicle and theirs,

walk to safety.

Rest.

Regulate breathing.

The more you practice and imagine the what happens next, the lesser the worry takes up space in your mind. Why? Well because you have seen how the event will be when and if it were to occur. You will be ready to deal with that eventuality and know what to do!

The Body Keeps the Score
There is a great section in the Body Keeps the Score book about people who are able to recover after an RTA. Those who get involved suffer less traumatic memory retention because of their working out the challenge at the time of the accident. Using their pre-frontal cortex and using the human part of the brain. Those who block out or blot out the experience of the accident generally fare worse.

Michael Forfieh Counselling presenting the idea that all that we think does not have to be believed.
All is not to believed

So
The advice with worry is to pay attention to what the is concern is.
Evaluate the worry for it’s value and truth.
Develop a strategy as to how to resolve the worry as best you can.
If the worry is a big one see where help can be asked from to support you to reduce the challenge of the concern.
Be proactive, create a new scenario with the challenge resolved.
Think about the scenario being solved and pay attention to how you feel.

It is in the feelings that you can understand what the emotional hijack has been about. You can now see the worry for what it was and how to resolve it.

So now put your energy into solving the challenge.

Mentoring coaching psychotherapy
A good helper can support a person who experiences these challenges. The helper will aim to resolve anxieties and begin working on returning you to a healthy helpful state of calm.

How
By examining the origin of the concern a helper can pinpoint its beginning. Generally the worry is linked to other ideas a person has about themselves including race, class, status, money, childcare, performance outcome and the weather with everything else in between. A helper will aim to establish what the client experiences in heightened states of concern and help you to reduce the siren’s noise and find solution.

Resources
Hidden Brain – Coping with Chaos
Impact Theory – Cultivating a Powerful Worldview
Two Guys on Your Head – Breathing

Images
Cover Photo by Tyrell Charles on Unsplash
Inlaid photo

The Interview

Having been interviewed a number of times and also being on the panel of people conducting the interviews this piece is to support those who will be looking for new jobs/roles this year.

Adding Value
I am writing this post to support counsellors and other mental health professionals perform well at interview. Perhaps there are many who approach interviews as a chance to show others what they know. How well they would perform in the new role and that they would be a great addition to that team. There is an undying hope of the could be employed. The idea being that the next interview, will open the door to their next big adventure. This I know well as I have been one of the hopefuls.

The Invite
The invite arrives through the mail, these days it is an email and says something along the lines of ‘we would like to invite you to interview for the role of Umbrella Engineer (the role that you applied for). The interview will be held on Umbrella date and time at the Umbrella factory in your local Umbrella city.

I wonder what thoughts arrive with the notice that the company/organisation/charity/entrepreneurship/apprenticeship/voluntary role wants to meet with you?

Excitement, fear? Fear mixed with dread at the prospect of another ordeal that doesn’t get you the job role you applied for? Because. All the answers to all of the questions arrived as soon as you left the building after the interview. Or, The preparation you took your time with didn’t prepare you for the really tough questions. Or, you rushed at the answers and didn’t answer them as fully as was necessary. What if there was another way to think/feel about the invitation?

Alternatively
Simply hold the idea of why you applied for the role. See yourself in the role completing all of the tasks well. Asking the questions from the team and yourself that will allow you to solve some of the challenges of the new role.

The new position affords you change, challenge, reward. It is what you have sought. You meet most of the criteria for the job and feel that the new position could support your career growth and development. It possibly isn’t just about the money or prestige or possibility of something new to do.

The role is about how you see yourself becoming. Envision this down to the clothes you wear, parfum you use, walking taller, holding eye contact with others confidently, speaking with an air of knowledge and how you have applied it to complete tasks in other settings/previous roles. The new role is about how you are seeing your future with you in it and the new company. Breathe

Prep
The interview is a stage of pre-engagement with a job role. Preparing for the interview is a necessary part of the engagement. Read through the job specification again. Read the answers you gave for each of the specifications.

Some if not all of the interview questions will be based on the job role and specification. Most jobs list the essential desirable and additional skills that the job role requires or asks for. Base your questions on the essential criteria and any desirable ones too. Aim to give examples or scenarios that explore/explain your thinking and outcomes of making the decisions you did.

Practice
I practice reading through my personal statement aloud a few times and then take a recording of myself. It is the recording of the personal statement that takes the job specification from an external knowledge sense of knowing and makes it become an internalised piece of knowing. The knowing then can live in me.

It’s like self-hypnotism. I listen to the recording up to 10 times before the interview. I want to know what I wrote as intimately as a song. I listen whilst travelling, falling asleep, washing dishes, doing other pieces of typing work. I want my mind to absorb the personal statement with relative ease.

Questions
The questions you devise are approximations, guesses, hypothetical thoughts about what may be asked at interview. The questions could be similar to

What reasons do you have for applying for this role?
Tell us a little bit about you?
If your friends and colleagues were here what sort of things would they be telling us about you?
When have you failed and what did you learn from the experience?
Can you tell us your experience of working in a team?
What does a successful piece of work look like and what does it look like when it’s complete?
What counselling approach do you use and why?
How do you manage conflict?
If someone you are working with states an intention to self-injure what do you do?

Answers
The answers you give will be pulled from your personal statement. Because you now know your personal statement upside down inside out top to bottom, there is now room to improvise and be flexible with the possible answers that you can offer. This is where you get to be a Jazz musician, a Warren Wolf.

Explanatory
In interviews I have engaged with and struggled I would either waffle on and hope to scatter fill the answers in a disorganised fashion. Cluster Bombing the interview. Not surprisingly I would not get past this stage.

To answer the questions well interpret the reason interviewers are asking them. What reasons do they have for asking the questions they are propositioning you with. What do they want to know about you? Provide the answers with passion and confidence giving examples of when you performed a similar task. (Remember you are not making it up, you are just retelling what has happened. The interviewers were not there.)

This is where you get to show off. When you can share what happened, the reasons that you chose to use the intervention used, the outcome of the intervention what the client/clients found helpful and what insights you gained from engaging in the way that you did. For extra merit adding what would be better if, or what was learned from the experience shows reflexivity.

1, 2, 3+
Gather your initial ideas about the question and what the interviewers are looking for from you.

Make a mental or written note to guide what and how you are going to answer.

Some questions are more like mini paragraphs with up to 4 points in them to be reviewed and answered

It is okay to ask for an interviewer to ask the question again if mid point you may have gone off topic. This shows that you have heard that there are multiple components to the question and that you are conscientiously attempting to provide relevant answers. It also shows confidence in being able to serve yourself well.

Answer the question as best as you can. Take your time here. You want to explain your ideas and give chance for interviewers to note take!

Give examples and then explain what you did, the outcomes and possible changes to be made, learning and areas that highlight team work and collaborative engagement. If there were parts when you lead a piece of work highlight this too, or worked through a particular challenge. This shows resilience and awareness of strengths in relationship with others.

  1. Answer the question by noting what you have done that meets the desired level answer
  2. Re-interpret the question to delve into more personable answers
  3. Say what you did
  4. Give a scenario that speaks to the question
  5. Share outcomes

Shoot and Miss
It’s less point shoot at basket. More see the goal, reflect on choices (Pass, Dribble, Shoot) make an informed action and reflect on the choice during and after.

Solitarily or with manager supervisor or in peer relationships aim to arrive at possible outcomes. The work here is to show not only that you are able to use an internalised supervisor to reflect on the work, and that you are also able to use external supports to assist with thinking about client work. The point here is to show thinking and ability to work with others to develop useful outcomes for clients, yourself and the team you are looking to join. Providing the working out illustrates that you are teachable, open to new learning and that the new company is making a wise choice in offering you employment.

Over to you
Make sure that you have at least 2 questions for them and that you mention that you had more but they were covered in the preamble of their introduction.

Try to keep the questions job role specific, who will I be working with, where, how many are useful as they give insight to the new role and show that you are keen to know about the company.

Good Luck!

Resources

How to Fail: Otegha Uwagba from How To Fail With Elizabeth Day on Apple Podcasts. https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/how-to-fail-with-elizabeth-day/id1407451189?i=1000422485796

Jitters: The Night Before

Having the jitters before the big day is normal, expected, an indication of the importance of what is to be tried. 13th of November was going to be gigantic because I was about to start providing a low cost counselling group experience for Black Men in S.E. London.

*Solstice Shuffle
With the days here in the northern hemisphere becoming shorter and shorter, and with that colder too, rather than retreat and hide. I want to fight back the dark with warmth and light. My colleague and I are to start something I feel will be big. Important. Game Changing. We have talked and laughed and listened and prepared.

It’s time.
So the jitters, and jitter bugging are a nervous type of energy. Highlighting an excitement and a wondering of what is going to be. New. Novel. Nuanced. Black focused group therapy for men.

Why?
Because why not! The reasons aren’t as important as the reasons that some are asking them. What reasons arise in your minds eye as to the reasons as to why, there could be need of an introductory course for therapy for Black Men?

Support
Speaking with my supervisor a few months ago I asked, do you think this idea of mine is racist? He took his time and invited me to think about my reasoning, my question, the need. I did and said No, I do not feel that the group is a racist idea. The want is to support an under-served social and ethnic group access skilled support at a low cost. Some psycho-education will happen and the aim will be to support members grow towards a healthy sense of themselves and their position in the world.

A memoir, an insight to living whilst Black

Lack
I recognise that men generally are less inclined to express themselves and be vulnerable with others. That takes time. It’s a strength that women largely are gifted with. Men tend to suppress their softer side for fear of being manipulated or hurt or worse humiliated. The concern is that under pressure, that hiding, turns those suppressed feelings into something toxic and harmful. We know of the term toxic masculinity.

Triplicate
Being toxic as a Black Man is like a triple bind.

1. Not speaking about ones vulnerability and pain causes us (humans) to seek other ways to find release. Some of these ways can lead to long term health factors that affect Black Men in particular and those connected to them acutely.

2. Becoming toxic, distrustful, upset and angry causes others usually friends, partners and family to flee, reduce contact, disconnect from or just avoid and hide.

Professional dislike
The trusted are often met with the same vitriol and disruptive rage as Drs, nurses, psychologists, probation officers, teachers, police personnel, employers and work colleagues. With the disruption some meet their needs through miss-telling of truths. Making the environment of the affected worse. Thus serving to – ratchet up their paranoia or distrust. Leading to more self isolation and projected anger at others.

Hitting Out
The third and final bind is when the lid blows off!

These moments tips the scales violently over.
The contents carefully balanced are shattered scattered and lost. The family, job, friends, savings, house, children, partner, colleagues, all ruined.

The man at the centre of the storm can then fall foul of pre existing stereotypes. He – unable to cope with the pressures of life. A Man Not really. A Man deemed crazy. Unable to climb and look after himself or anyone else for that matter. A drain on resources, draining energy, becoming to onlookers: menacing. Unworthy…

The Straw
Mental health services are generally not accessed before the police are called in. Usually it is this point that help is found and quickly. Society seems ready to pounce as the risk level becomes uncontained by members of the general public.

Detention
The implosion leads then to an enforced section and the man’s civil liberties of self-governance, self respect, self determination sanctioned and taken from him for between 48hours up to two weeks. Legally! Sometimes it can be for far longer. For this man it is a story he may have avoided. If there was a way to have found a space to discharge through speaking about his allostatic loads with (an)other(s).

A stong looking exterior often hides the vulnerability and the pain. Lets talk www.michaelforfiehcounselling.com
Let’s Talk now.
Photo by Giulia Pugliese on Unsplash

Perhaps
My jitters are about the chance to create a new story. For the one above. For that lonely man who shuffles along the street, sometimes talking or singing to himself. Looking unwell. Acting in a slightly bereft, unkempt way.

Rise
The idea of creating something new as a psychological model is both powerful and exciting. People engaging in therapeutic communities and therapeutic work is a different outcome to the bleak one I have witnessed as a Londoner, as a person working in prison, as a consciously aware Black Man that wants to listen for a different ending. Sometimes a situation has to reach rock bottom before it gets better.

Sometimes

Resources
Code Switch – This Racism Is Killing Me on The Inside
The Stoop – Angry Black Woman
BAATN – Beyond Silence

Comments are welcome.

Vulnerability: The Hidden

There are a number of reasons that I have wanted to specifically work with Black Men/Men from the African Diaspora engaging in therapy. There is an overwhelming amount of misinformation about the strong, fierce, angry Black Man. There is also an unacknowledged backstory of why these perceptions have been allowed to exist. It is far easier to continue the lie. Pulling misinformation apart is the long slow and hard road.

Edu-
The Introductory course is styled for someone like myself, willing and able to be vulnerable with others – open to learning about themselves and being *edu-trained with others. It’s the therapy course I could have used when I was 13 or 20 or 37. I could probably do with a black men’s group now! Queue Dope Black Podcast.

Mini deaths x 3
I have 3 deaths that I want to acknowledge in this piece. The one that cut the deepest is the one I will write about last. It was an insidious and traumatic cut that has gone on to hurt many. Possibly does still. I now understand this wound. I can now forgive the persons that have directly and indirectly hurt me. I believe that pain is at the core of the reason for wanting to support others.

The many…

1st Loss
My 1st death wrapped me up,
Shut me down and
Held me mute
About the pain
Of my loss
It was
The death of
Mother.
In December ’93
Rita Margaret Drakes.

She died some 25 years ago and her terminal fight with cancer has been a model of my own struggles with Multiple Sclerosis: Part denial, part anger, part bargaining, part shock and then ambiguous acceptance that always seems out of reach. Tantalisingly close but defyingly, just beyond my outstretched arms – unable to connect…

Death 2
The 2nd death is of my friend Ade through suicide 2011. His death was both shocking and hard to accept. Recognising that I had no chance of saving him offers some relief. Only some. He made a choice much like a character in a Star is Born. The incident much like Jude in A Little Life, the encounter with almost dieing happening many, many times before.

Death 3
The 3rd is a story I have not written or talked much about. I have shared with only a few. Some members of my family know.

This death.

This loss is of innocence, of trust and the insidious nature of the harm caused to me. I have held myself in a place just out of reach. Believing that I am wrong, bad, mad and sad.

That the harm caused was of my doing and that I deserved it. That I continue to deserve mistreatment. That if I hold myself just out of sight, my hurt cannot infect others.

But it had.

Unreported
I was about 6 or 7 when I was sexually abused by someone older than me. The events are uncomfortable to describe and I will choose carefully what I share.

Being shown pornographic images elicits an uncontrollable physical response in some people. It did for me! I became aroused and that arousal was used by them to perform their sexual acts.

I recognise the crime committed against me. As well as working in corrections (Criminal Justice) I have seen this pattern replicated for a significant number of men and women I have supported. Abuse happening to them including; physical, emotional, sexual, psychological, financial and domestic and then perpetrating a similar crime against another or others.

Tankerton Reflection

The pattern is of ever diminishing returns, and a debased sense of self, of having little value, little to offer, often is, the outcome.

Broken Loop
A person who has been hurt can act out in ways to inflict pain on others. But I feel it is more than that, the person is after. They could be after an understanding of what happened to them first, by behaving in ways that evoke fear, obedience, power and getting a secondary gain from the sense of control this may have over another.

Reconnecting
I write this as an origin story of why I have created a course for Black men to access healing. I write because if I am unwilling to recognise my own experiences of pain and trauma how can I then support others begin working on theirs.

As with most things, dealing with change it has to start with us first!
Admitting that the hurt happened is primary to begin the process of healing.

Mend
What comes next is action.
This is where the fun and pain coexist. Getting to decide what happens next, where to go next, whom to speak with after, how to work it through and beyond so that it can no longer hold you from getting there.

There where you belong.

Safe, Resilient, Free, Successful, at Peace.

Resources
Episode 7-10 of New Amsterdam is a must see for the development of a story similar to mine.
Where Shall We Begin. Trauma Doesn’t Like to be Touched
Lisa Nichols The Inspiration that is
When they See Us

CTA
The Black Men’s Introduction to Therapy course begins on the 13th of November.
Visit www.michaelforfiehcounselling.com or www.equilibriumtc.com for more information.

Review: Shit I Can’t Say

Seeing a one person play spring from the pages of a gifted writer to life on stage is amazing. To have the writer be someone you coached as a basketball player as a teen. An ever larger sense of amazement. To see the focus of the play greet, embrace and thank his son – priceless.

All The Shit I Can’t Say to my Father
I went to see All the Shit, in August 2019. A friend, an ex baller, I coached – Abraham Adeyemi has written a modern day sensation. The night was the performance of sublime art.

Charming
The performance was led by a young charismatic actor, Zackary Momoh, who reminded me of a younger Chiwetel Ejiofor. There was something about his delivery that was precise and filled with presence. The audience were appreciative of his deft delivery and intimate bringing to life of Abraham’s words.

Autumnal Feelings

Partial Delays
News broke earlier in July that due to unforeseen circumstances ‘The Shit…’ was going to be changed to just a reading and a performance (How does that work you may ask?).

It’s part rehearsal, part working through of the words to the stage, set and possibly with an audience. The actor reads through the script aloud like a read through. Similar to a sound check for a music performance.

I thought the reading was a brilliant way to introduce the concept of what we were doing there. What we potentially could be see. A one person play engaging and interacting with the audience. Seeing the finessing of the script was seeing a craftsperson work their skills to a High Art Finish.

Throughout the play Zackary read and cast aside the pages almost as though this was part of the play. Him screwing up a few of the pages at one moment (after he had read them). Then came the toss towards a wastepaper basket was thrilling. I smiled ridiculously at that and may even have clapped. I instantly recognised both Abraham and many peoples dream of being a top performing NBA/WNBA star.

Engagement
The show felt both lyrical and compassionate. ‘The Shit…’ entertained me fully. The audience and I, were involved to see AK the protagonist’s journey. As he begins to acknowledge and unravel his taught relationship with his father.

The AK’s father is Nigerian. A Christian. A multi-talented labourer, a craftsman of often obscure and unwanted jobs. It was at this point the flexibility of the play shone. AK asked a member of the audience what her dad did.
She replied “Carpet layer – Handiman”
AK “Yeah, my dad probably did that too”
Audience – Whoops of laughter and applause of recognition.

The father, AK’s father should have been an engineer, but due to the racist notion that countries outside of the more favored commonwealth countries like Nigeria couldn’t possibly educate to the standard of British trained engineers were denied entry to the professions they trained for. Took what roles and jobs that they could and raised their families as best they could.

Off stage
The scene that caught my imagination was of seeing Abraham stand with his father. The moment happened off stage after the crowds milled out. I do not know what was said. That moment being private – Abraham’s and his fathers. What I perceived was a bridge of admiration begin to form. An acceptance of something that had been lost. The awareness that maybe something new has possibly been found. This meeting between father and son, through drama, through ‘All the Shit I Can’t Say to My Father’ is the making of new stories and about letting go of old ones.

My Bridge
I realise now that reconciliation was an impossibility for me and my father. A dream unobtainable. A number of significant changes would have to have happened in both of us first. To have approached a turning point that began a new start for us. The moment of second chances and water under the *bridgedness passed aeons ago and I am invited by circumstance, to allow it to pass too.

Duality
He was a man of the late 1930’s Ghanian, African, lacking in humility, compassion he believed, was a concept for the weak and foolish, arrogance and bull headedness was his way to confront the world. His religion was dual Christian and Muslim. A Ghanian former politician living abroad was how he saw himself. UK politics was of mild interest behind his own ambitions. Fatherhood suffered. 

We never found ground between us that felt comfortable for each other to be on. His death on October The 31st 2016 ended without a neat bow. Ours was not a story book ending. My father left not speaking to any of his children and without making amends for the pain he caused. That will be ours to tidy and pack away.

Reflection
For Abraham the play appeared redemptive and restorative. Like a deep cleanse. I was happy I got to witness that for him. For me and my siblings I hope that the clearing and cleanse happens with acceptance moving on in to forgiveness. The chalice was never ours to sup from.

The intention is set for me to start from near the beginning. Refreshed and unburdened. Again.

Resources

The Dope Black podcast – Raising Kids While Black
Revisionist History – Talking to Strangers
2 Black Guys with Good Credit – Black Power Money Power
The Stoop – Unexpected Family

Structure Them

As with most things in life structure is an important part to creating anything.

Taking Inspiration and Flying
My blog writing has been a flight of fancy, of fantasy and for me a moderate success.

Flight
In 5 years I have grown my readership organically from 10 readers to just over 100. Organically meaning I have posted and readers have liked and then followed the blog. I have attempted campaigns where I have invited friends and family to take a look and subscribe. This took me from being scared to being willingly vulnerable. I had to as Brene Brown would say call on my courage to complete this task. The worst that could happen is readers, family and friends state that they are not interested in reading my work and not click subscribe.
That’s it?
Yup.
Bad huh?

1000’s
The number of readers could always be greater. With time. With consistency. With diligence. With transparency. With vulnerability. With a clear call to action and a clear message the number of quality readers/responders will grow. I am interested in the number of readers growing as some of what I write and think, I intuit is relevant, useful and slightly educative for a few people.

Tate Modern London

Structure Meaning
I will be spending time over the next few weeks re-writing most of my blogs so that they are clear in what they are inviting readers to act on. The blogs are written with the intention to be informative. I have found that the thought that begins the blog post sometimes does not travel all the way to the end. The inspiration leads on to other thoughts and ideas that could be confusing. Leading you astray is where I can get better as a writer. The craft of blog writing is about clarity and information leading to an action.

Action
For me the intention of the blog was to inform others about the thoughts I had about the life I am living. I am still interested in that aim, however the call now is to drive readers to take action. That could include responding to the blog post or any of the 70+ I have written. Read the links included in the blog to increase perspective of what I have written and then respond. Read or buy the book listed in the hyperlink (I currently am not an affiliate marketer), listen to the podcast I have included or watch the youtube video.

Pointing
The aim here – I am interested in having in depth conversations either online or in person with others who have a wider appreciation for the life we are living/leading. The writings of the blogs helps articulate my thinking the aim is not to end the conversation there but to grow the thinking and generate further ideas.

To End

My blogs are going to change. Bare with them and me. A metamorphosis is happening, it possibly is happening for you too.

CTA

The aim of this blog was to share that from a simple and chaotic yet interesting beginning the Therapist on a Journey is changing. If you have read on to the end can you:

  • Send this on to 5 people that you feel would benefit from reading these words
  • Post a comment below or drop me a line at michaelforfieh@gmail.com

Depth

Melancholia/Co-Morbidity

noun

a mental condition characterized by great depression 
of spirits and gloomy forebodings.

Warmth

Summer is here with sun, and glorious heat and trips to beaches, swimming pools and ice cream and floating through in the background of my mind is death.

It’s a weird thought, in all of this jollity, mirth, mayhem, and madness and my mind is stuck with the idea of loss and bereavement. This isn’t the time for thinking about death, I remind myself! But the idea keeps returning like a persistent cold.

Cause

The thought about death and dieing could be connected to a bereavement group I am eagerly anticipating to begin in one of the prisons I work at. It could be something to do with the transition of my son explored in earlier blogs and his presumed loss of innocence. Or it could be the contrast between the summer months and the dread of not being; Like fallen friends and family, colleagues, neighbours or people that expired due to illness, depression, or suicide. It’s a moving and emotional thought that I am pondering onand choosing to share.

CALM

In April I attended The Man Talk at Brixton Ritzy. One of the panelist’s was from Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) who spoke about the loss of his dad through suicide Paul McGreggor @PMcGreggorCom CALM zone. The evening was filled with personal stories of men being vulnerable in front of, panelist’s, and with other men. I aim to write an overview of the first Man Talk event I attended a little later.

Disappear

I am left thinking about death not in the abstract but as an unknown definite certainty. My Ending amuses me. Less existential angst more a curiosity. I wonder if death will be painful, pain free, a sleeping drift into the great unknown, a pause that continues, a senile bumbling trundle to a stop. The end could be tomorrow, next week, next year or a decade from now.

MIA

The realisation is death’s arrival cannot be planned for. I will be surprised. I will be angry and complain that this is not my time. I will urge the dimming light that I would like another go of pitch and toss. That my duties in life – to life are not fulfilled. But end it shall and trundle I shall go.

Waves

I will leave my 2 sons, my co piloting Dr, my 3 sisters and my nieces and nephews, my co pilot’s family, friends and colleagues, supervisees and supervisors, my ability to bake, these 60+ blogs, the 50 or so podcasts and books I listen to and read that feed my ever hungry mind with and MS.

Happy Loss

Leaving Multiple Sclerosis, I believe, I will be happy to say goodbye. An account of loss that is more thief – cat burglar, than a outright murderer, but then it can do that too.

Perhaps in death I get to encompass peace and the wonder of letting go. Somber I know but it’s worth thinking about.

A few other thoughts about death are contained in the following podcasts:

2 Black Guys With Good Credit Burying the Dead
Grief Cast with Cariad Lloyd interviewing David Baddiel/Susan Wakoma
How to Fail with Elizabeth Day interviewing Mo Gawdat
Philosophy Bites Suicide

In no way am I laughing at, ridiculing or minimising the effect or impact of death. The experience IS, and so we are invited to prepare for an ending of what is known/unknown…

If any points above caused thought or triggered a reaction take a look at http://www.michaelforfiehcounselling.com and join the mailing list.

Therapy in Prison

Held up

Recently I worked with a client in a prison who appeared caught up in the story of how he has been continually mistreated by the Prisons he has resided in.

Expecting

When I re-framed a specific experience, his experience, he growled in acknowledgement of how he had been moving through his sentence. Not progressing. Stuck. Little involvement with probation or a sentence plan. He was tense and expectant of more bad shit to be passed to him.

A Why

It came after a long tirade of him counting up all the negative experiences that he has had. And why shouldn’t he? Life had dealt an undesirable hand. The idea of abandonment and not being heard were high on his watch list. “That shit is never going to happen to me again” he had said.

Sunshine

But they had. Even more shit had happened and he had reacted and then, he was left still holding a sad and ugly can of discontent. It stank! When he recognised the ailment he had been carrying it looked like the clouds covering his psyche broke and a beautiful smile graced his face. The joys of therapy are these moments. They happen when a person is willing to hear themselves put down the mask and step beyond. Out from under the cloud. The gloom had hidden him and his needs. The cloud had also given protection. Why would anyone want to leave?

Perspective

For this client the experience was seeing how tired he was from carrying the sloshing pail of woe and anger and resentment and pain. When he was able to put it down and walk a distance from it, he could see that in actuality he had been holding himself back. That the pain was all his and that the prison, probation or other professionals could not take it from him. All that a professional could do was help him recognise that by putting it down he could see himself anew.

Links

For a few moments it felt like an onslaught that I was being invited to witness and be party to. My careful reframe offered him chance to pause and acknowledge how dreadful those moments had been and where he could drop the bucket off. Ah now this is therapy.

Waves

The work is about creating chance for clients to look thrice and weigh up choices: carry around the ugly for another week, month, year or choose to drop bad for good and pick up something worthwhile, wholesome, worthy, healthy and ride on a crest for as long as it is possible. Picking up belief and self-esteem and confidence and humility and self-worth along the way.

Press Play

I will not be in this man’s life when he returns to his community. I get a sense however, that a shift of seismic proportions occurred and am happy to have been a part.

Choices

Making a decision to stay in a place of discomfort because it is familiar is common. We believe that choosing something unfamiliar but probably better is a simple choice to make and it lies squarely in the unknown.

4 Levels

Known Knowns – Water is Wet
Known Unknowns – That’s hot, how hot? That’s cold how cold…?
Unknown Knowns – Not knowing what is vaguely known Cantonese, Sub Saharan Africa, Quantum Mechanics, Effective Altruism
Unknown Unknowns – Total unawareness

Where would you place the greatest field of learning and of fear?
The Unknown Brain TED Talks