Written In Stones

future stone

It’s been a while since I blogged – miss me, faithful reader? – and in the meantime, I’ve gone through a redundancy. Which is a relief, a disappointment, and an opportunity. In my day job as counsellor and psychotherapist, I’ve worked with many clients on ‘change management’ of various sorts, and redundancy itself quite often. From the outside, the strategies I offered seemed clear and helpful, goals simple to pinpoint, aim or work for.

From the inside, it’s very different. Feelings of loss, disappointment, loss of worth and self-esteem, self doubt and self questioning cloud the space in-between  and clog the gears, leaving a sense of stuckness and impotence. Weighed down by the past, my fears and uncertainties.

It’s not easy to let go, and sometimes we need a ritual, a structure to help us reflect, learn and grow. When I’ve ended counselling sessions, I’ve sometimes used ‘smudging’ or the burning of incense or a candle to formalise a break or clear a feeling, a response, something left over. I use focussing and Interpersonal Process Recall to check in on how I’m feeling and where the feelings might come from. I can share my thoughts, feelings, observations with colleagues and my supervisor.

Yesterday was an ending for me. A long relationship with a valued and trusted supervisor who had also trained me. I’d been supported through many changes at work, and we both agreed that an ending session  – the rituals of goodbye – would be useful. My supervisor offered me a tray of stones, a technique we sometimes use in counselling to find an object to reflect on what we see, what we notice, what we might project at that particular time and place.

A way to tap into something subconscious, or a felt sense.

I shuffled my hands around in the battered foil tray containing big, small, elaborate, smooth, rough and raw stones, looking and feeling for something appropriate.

A stone for when I first entered the counselling profession.

A stone for when I first met my supervisor.

A stone for the end of the relationship.

A stone for the future.

The first is a battered and raw large pebble. Parts of it feel smooth, parts of it feel rough. It’s not polished and it feels an unfinished shape. The second is part of broken tile, clear and beautiful glass on one side, rough honeycombed plaster on the other. I hadn’t noticed the rough side when I picked it. Shiny, shiny. The third stone was dark and chipped, its centre exposed and its exterior worn smooth. A very tactile stone – cool and comforting.

The final stone is the one in the picture. I’m still seeing different things in it. I picked it because it reminded me of a decoration on a mobile decoration hanging up in my home. It’s round, it’s an appealing colour, and it’s complex. If I look hard enough, I see nicks and scratches and imperfections. When I hold it, it seems smooth but my fingers can find faults and lines along the surface if I let them. I find it hypnotic, enticing, and uncertain, foggy, shiny gold and deepest blue.

I don’t claim to know what any of it means. And it doesn’t have to mean anything. It’s play, it’s imagining and creating and questioning.

Oh, and it rolls and moves around and doesn’t stand still….

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