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

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No Longer A Therapist

I consider what my role as counsellor/psychotherapist is, after 10 years of practice. Change is present and I am simply bearing witness.

What am I?
A Shaman. A mental health practitioner. A support. An educator. An enthusiast. A Creative.

Tune this
The dial has swung on this thing called therapy don’t you think? Treatment for mental illness is no longer clinging to an outer boundary of the:

‘Never!’
‘No!’
‘You will have to drag me outta here to see a therapist.’
‘Sedate me first, please?’
‘Do I look like I’m crazy to you. Well? Do I?’
‘If you think I need therapy, why don’t you just lock me up?’

Accessing support has become more socially acceptable. Changing the perception to another resource for those requiring support. Those with the means to pay for it do. Signing the contract and attending to treatment with studious intent.

Therapy can be a choice. Enter from stage left: IAPT providing access and enabling a great many more people to access the support so few previously sought.

Taking Flight from Counselling to… http://www.michaelforfiehcounselling.com

Choose Wellness
Now therapy sits alongside health as a must for those in emotional, physical or psychological pain. Many have come forward sharing their change. Championing their therapy and the counsellors/ psychologists/ psychotherapists that walked with them through their dark spaces.

Half Life
Enough time has passed for the shame of a half lived life to be released and relieved. I thank those like Paul McGregor who champions the cause of C.A.L.M. Talking therapy is a way through blocks and barriers, as is homeopathy, hypnotherapy, walk n talk therapy, coaching, osteopathy, dance, sport, gym and dietary support.

Staying
Some of the approaches mentioned above I have been able to use. I realise that the change for me is as a result of what people have asked of therapy.

Be in the room with me. Don’t leave like those others did (Dad, Girlfriend, Mum, Boyfriend, Work, Gran and Grandfather, evn my Friends!).

“Help me understand my story. Make sense of these experiences with me.” With the experience I have, I am able to interpret and meet some of what is asked. The call is pressing. The call is also immediate.

The call is a now (exclamation mark) not, a later. And this is where therapy meets coaching meets mentoring entrepreneurship and consultancy.

Orbit
This is where I find myself. I am not sure there is a final word for where I am finding myself. A therapist? Of course. Yes. A mentor? Yes. A coach? Yes. A counselling supervisor? Yes.

I feel that consultancy is what is pooling for me currently.

Pulling me in like a form of magnetism.

A New Approach to Support
http://www.michaelforfiehcounselling.com

Therapy Sloth
The time we are living in now is almost of immediate gratification. If it cannot be had within moments of the request – abject fear, loss, failure, ignorance and paucity ensue. Or a sense close to. I ask and within microseconds, no longer minutes, goodle or facetram or instagaboggle will provide.

What then of therapy? The old model was to be a blank screen allowing the client to project their fears and desires onto. With newer versions of therapy the therapist stayed in the room and aimed to be a vehicle that supported the clients change.

Perhaps the model is to change once more. The next adaptation is to be in the room and be an active agent, an instigator of change that is significant and meaningful for the client being supported. The work could find a breakthrough in one sitting, 3 or 23.

Transitioning
Change has no signature.
No off, on, or now, time stamp.

Change happens as a result of the relationship between the supporter and *supportee. It is the twang of tension. The confusion of misapprehension it is the stuff of the in between. I stopped being a therapist the moment when I applied psychobabble to the vast complex life I am living in. Take a look at Haunted as an example or The Alienist blog featuring in Patterns: A beautiful way of thinking.

Ending With
I am here for those who assertively, dramatically and seriously want something amazing to happen. Change is available for those who want it! More importantly it exists for those who ask for it and continue asking until that change arrives.

I work with those who are ready and waiting for the next turn on their wheel.

I am a…

Soothsayer
Father
Husband
Friend
Artist
Brother
Uncle
Lay philosopher
Writer
Counsellor
Coach
Mentor
Psychotherapist
Supervisor
Baker

The Call
I am a consultant transforming the art of conversation. Now, if you would like to work with me and that project, idea, challenge or concern drop me a line or visit www.michaelforfiehcounselling.com.

Resource
The Art of Getting Things Done GTD

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

A Poem for Narcissus

Educating Narcissus

Show a distorted
Image almost
a picture of
Dorian Gray.

Display in good enough 
Light, invite 
Introspection.
The image pointing
Through the grotesque,
The distended
Wanting horror
To shock 
And drama and 
Show no mercy.
Never – invite in
Pain.

Wanting the subject to
Ask, is that how 
People see me? 
Is that How 
You
See me? 
Is that really 
Me? The answer 
always 

Yes!
To me
As horrible as the image you see
And more
And worse
Bloody and bleeding
Seething knot
Weeded seedlings
Killing, tangling
Feeding a never.

They in handsome 
Refrain, now 
Strained fighting to 
Escape change in 
Small things, notice
The armaments, denial 
Shame, angling to 
Reframe, growth may 
Arrive next and
Demand sought to 
End Pain, transgress 

Frustrate this
No more. 

Anticipation

Well cooked

Imagine a meal of sumptuous proportions cooked expertly by a recognised chef. Imagine that you are hungry, and interested in what you are about to consume.

Imagine the expectation, the table set. The dinner guests delighted and eager. The lighting perfect, the aromas wafting carrying in the anticipation of what delights are to follow.

Your dinner, the one worth waiting for! At the moment of delivery, at the height of expectations being met, the meal doesn’t arrive.

What?!

After all that anticipation?!

This is my experience, a therapists experience of the missed appointment or the client who does not arrive for their scheduled second appointment.

The preparation is only half of the story though. It is in the moments the appointments, the twists and turns of the therapeutic encounters to follow that were worth the anticipation.

These moments are where I find alchemy takes place. Little can happen before the client and therapist meet. In the appointments are when the therapist and client are both tested, triumph, fail and succeed continually.

But then the reasons for the client not attending are too numerous and complex to fully appreciate. Generally the reasons could be about fear. Fear about what change could mean. Remember The light bulb has got to want to change. But we are not to know.

That’s the hard part to the appointment missing client for a therapist. The not knowing. The guessing and the not getting to support that person who is struggling to experience something new. Like that meal mentioned at the top. The difficulty Not met and lieing unresolved.

Unknowing of when next to begin. Training in therapy invites therapists to be aware of resiliency in treatment with another. But the missing client has a very different weight to it. Training encompasses what to do in that 50 minute appointment which include:

Sit and ponder the last interaction and think about the work.
Make notes in the pad to take to supervision to reflect on what is going on for the therapist the client and their relationship.
Catch up on writing notes.
Review the notes with the non attending client and be mindful of patterns.

Very often there are few answers but many many questions. To do what with I wonder? To provide answers. To look at things differently. To arrive at choices that could alter the work or the practice with that client. 

It could also be a time to make a hot drink, have a conversation with a colleague/friend, do something creative and be mindful. This is about you and not them. What is a potentiality is the client returning.

This is when the labour made in those missed appointments comes into its own and the investment of time spent is met.

And Where Should We Begin

Past Future Presents

Being willing and able to stand out. Not stand amongst. Daring to be counted for or against. Being the binaried other. The up to the down side .

Three writers

Three weeks

Three stories and many many more. James, Davis and Thomas. All came to London, all discussed their books and visions.

All at the Southbank Centre. London.

All witnessed by the Grateful I.

All Inspirational.

All willing the next generation of writers, to pick up and sign on the Ether: that is fabric, that trick of time, a slice of magic.

With Angie Thomas the bright energy of her torch is carried aloft and loudly. Her message is one of hope and endearing those who are young, to knock down the doors to the banquet. Not ask for a seat at the table. Take the table and the hall!

Healing as action, a right for the young the mature, for the willing and the able.

For Marlon James – Black Leopard and Red Wolf was a call out for healing. Split psyches, broken dreams and promises, pooling resources and hollowing out ones own truth from African spirituality and new/old mythology.

For Angela Davis the story too was also about healing and about activism and about spanning histories and movements like a fan. My notes cannot do her enough justice so I cobble these sentences to scramble my meanings – together and then loosen.

In three short weeks I recognised that we are speeding towards a downpour of words, acts and decisions that have the potential to irrevocably change minds hearts and futures. Whatever the outcomes some ideas remain, things change – Always

Leader

Educationally Missing.

Disappearing

There are a number of stories that capture the experience of unmet potential, stories of people falling and staying down long before they had chance to fly.

Having supported teenagers in schools and working in rehabilitative settings for service users. The experiences of: loss, betrayal, resentment, let down, anger, low mood, dis-regulation of the maturation process and abdication of responsibility appear to have an accumulative effect to understanding being made about life paths. An unknown internal point is not reached or appreciated and a resulting cacophony then is the result.

Heightened Stress

As Dr. Lori Desautels and Michael McKnight have illustrated in their 1st book Unwritten the Story of a Living System. A person, especially a child does not grow well and develop within an environment of high stress and high anxiety.

The result is a reduced sense of self-esteem, reduced mental capacity to uptake new information, lowered tolerance to *stressors, heightened response to survival habits of Freeze-Flight-Fight-Friend actions, hostile engagements with others, use of explosive language and behaviour to process and deal with challenge and of pupils forming uneasy volatile alliances with pseudo friends and ‘family’.

‘I’ll hang around with you, if you and your group protect and don’t victimise or bully me. And if you do I am in the In Group so that’s okay.’ How long before the quasi friendship turns into manipulation? Where anti-social activities are the order? Where thrill seeking is obtained through risky behaviours. Where aggression and rule breaking appear normal?

Would the (apparently unbreakable) association/link/connection with the group take an evening? A weekend? A Month? A Term?

Regression

The worrying aspect I find with working at a stage of a person’s negative spiral (prison in my case) is the sense of hope being lost. Of individuals giving up on themselves, their families, on rehabilitating and returning from prison and by-passing society as a whole.

Primary desistance may have been achieved. Secondary desistance may still be a process that is being worked with by a prisoner or service user. Tertiary desistance is where a moral and societal shift occurs in the service user and the individual recognises themselves as part of, not a part from, society – their community. Counselling I find can be useful with a person’s 3rd stopping point.

Tip Point

I witness what the result of stripping social services are for vulnerable people and communities. Crime increase, homelessness, experiences of people in mental distress visible and not able to be cared for by hospitals or carers. What frustrates me is that the experience my son is having with his school and peers could be impacted on positively.

The pain filled progression of pupils, a percentage of whom that are permanently excluded from school (that had the potential to be a pro-social engagement), are victims to, or perpetrators of street violence, join illegal import and export dis-organisations (anti social engagement) to eventually becoming labelled and branded socially unsuitable, un-fit for ‘non offending populations’.

Being removed from mainstream education where students either attend alternative provision for less time than mainline school I feel is a damning move for students, school and society overall. Pupils earn less time being supervised by adults that can provide adequate pro social modelling. Feeding the productionline.

Committed Action

The need then as mentioned in Ignored Song would be for individuals from a range of backgrounds and experiences to provide support to a range of school experiences across the country to ameliorate the perspective some young people have about the world in which they live. And to change how schools and teachers view and support disorganised pupils.

The world does not have to be a dangerous and risky place where disagreements could cost several young people their lives. The aim would be to not minimise their understanding or patronise, but would be to offer challenge and support growth. To see beyond the barriers and horizons they may have erected to protect themselves.

Incision

In 2017 I approached a number of alternative school provisions with an initiative to run morning workshops to groups of students. The theme delivering thinking skills with the topic of psychology as the main driver.

My interest in psychology firmly rooted because of the counselling course. Witnessing that our world is governed by psychology increases my fascination. Psychology is a growth from Philosophy and I am in absolute awe of the impact thought has on us as humans. Continuing discoveries in neuroscience perpetually astound me.

Discussing psychological ideas with students at alternative school provisions in London I felt had the potential to be transformative. When a person begins to come upon a new realisation it is like a gift that was buried. Once unearthed the gleam of treasure that crosses a person’s face is priceless for me – every time.

B-Boy 

Prisoners

Working at a prison with service users in Kent, the look after they realise a hard earned truth feels the same. The service user often points and subtly rears back; like a soft push has just happened. Then a small smile is offered and the subtle shaking of their head. Astonishment!

The chance to experience and practice on the world the new found thing for service users in prison is sometimes delayed by the length of their sentences. Trial runs of new thought and behaviour can be made prior to release in prison with some degree of success. They may alter thinking traps and patterns or their behaviour may flip to be outgoing and light. Interactions with a peer, or group of others could do likewise and change to the positive with new thoughts.

My want was to work with school attendees before they entered the criminal justice system and had negatively altered their lives or the life of others dramatically, irreversibly. Reducing the impact and societies unconscious load that it projects onto those that it classes as criminal. No. We should not wait until our son’s and daughters are detained within secure environments before we develop packages of support. The change I believe has to start now!

The invitation/demand especially in light of Britain teetering on the edge of Exiting the European Union is:

We all must want better now for all.

We have to face up to the challenge.

We must all be willing to work to achieve a brighter tomorrow.

To be the last person standing is not what my son or young people seek. An unblocked, unfettered, untainted future is…

Michael McKnight writes

The Path to Connecting with- Kids “at-risk”. ( Brendtro and Seita )

1. Recast all problems as learning opportunities. 
2. Provide opportunities for fail-safe relationships.
3. Increase dosages of nurturance.
4. Don’t crowd.
5. Find their passion.
6. Decode the meaning of behavior.
7. Be “authoritative”. 
8. Model respect to disrespectful youth. 
9. Enlist troubled youth as team members. 
10. Preemptive connecting.
11. Give seeds time to grow. 
12. Keep positive expectations alive. 

#resilience

Resources

TED Talk Radio Hour School

Code Switch Raising Kings