I recently went back to the place where I’d been broken. 19 years later, the project that helped out of homelessness and addiction was celebrating 25 years and I was asked to speak.
I’d written an article and prepared a PowerPoint based on community, because it was there I first experienced it. Where I’d been welcomed instead of shunned, so as I prepared my talk, I started to reflect on what it was the project had given me, starting with the question of what does it mean to be broken?
Being broken is a place in yourself where you dont know who you are anymore, where you dont even know, that you don’t know who you are. Being broken is about being lost within your life and wondering how you get there.
Broken is a place that leaves a person feeling apart from everything, apart from family, friends and loved ones. Apart from people in society, colleagues. Where the art of communication is disjointed and noisy.
In my brokeness I felt apart from everone i’d ever known and everywhere i’d ever been. I felt closed off from the world and neither wanted, nor knew how to rejoin.
A client comes to see a therapist because there is a part of them that is broken, or fractured, or splintered. There are times when a client comes to counselling and finds the realisation that their broken. A realisation that is worrying and alarming and yet, ultimately, an opportunity to to redress and address and reconnect. To find a way to become a part of, instead of apart from.
In my brokeness and apartness, I found a place of community, a place of people who helped me to become a part of their community by first helping me to become a part of myself again. to become a whole.
In the counselling room, it is the role of a therapist to help their client find community, first with themselves, with their difficulty. To become a part of something more than their brokeness. To find the peace within their difficulty that can allow healing to take place. The therapist helps this process take place by finding connection with the client, through building trust and relationship, a community of two begins to build which the client can then use to build the connection within themselves.
Being in community and connection with clients is the privaledge of the therapist. By learning how we can be in community with ourselves and the world around us helps us to be more robust and well rounded therapists. I share my life with a few chosen people. My community is small, however it is my community built on connection and trust that allows me to be more of a part in the therapeutic process instead of being apart from it.
The talk that I gave allowed me the opportunity to explore this process of community and remember how it taught me to first build that connection with myself, at a time when I had no connection, trust or understanding. Through their trust, patience and compassion, I felt that community, that connection, and healing began.
At a recent works celebration, I had occasion to be walking around York at night, where I came across a homeless man, possibly roofless. As I recalled my own experieice at the hight of my apartness, I was again reminded of the many different types of people in this world that are broken in many different looking ways. A man sleeping on the streets, a man on his way to a celebration, each with their brokeness, their injuries may not always be evident, may be at different stages. Where a simple act of kindeness, a thoughtful word, a gentle touch can begin to build a momentary connection of community.
Therapy is not about healing people, it is about helping people to realise that they can learn to repair their lives through a process of connection and ultimately community.
A Thirsk Counsellor at Christmas.