tel: 042 9331803
mob: 086 0381073

Dealing with losing your baby through early miscarriage…

Counselling — admin @ 4:47 pm

We have decided this week to take a look at the experience of miscarriage and how it affects women who go through it. Although fifteen per cent of all pregnancies end in spontaneous miscarriage, the emotional effect of this goes largely unrecognised socially. As a result, a woman can be left feeling lonely and isolated at this very distressing time. This is particularly true if a woman miscarries prior to having a visible bump, usually less than twelve weeks. It can be difficult to mourn a baby who was not yet visible to the outside world. Even if family and friends have been aware of your pregnancy, it is often the case that people avoid the subject so as not to upset you further. People often feel it is a private matter and probably best left alone. It can be even more difficult for women if they are faced with unhelpful comments like “Sure you can try again….” Inevitably, some people will get it very wrong in how they approach you.
How then can you as a woman who has suffered the most intimate loss, talk about your feelings of guilt, anger and sadness? It is very difficult to share the rawness of how you feel if there is little of no understanding of your loss. Other women who have shared a similar experience can be of support but every woman’s experience is unique to her. Because we all cope with grief in different ways, what works for one may not work for another. Every woman has to grieve in her own way for her baby and in her own time.
One of the biggest questions you may ask is if there was anything you did to make the miscarriage happen, if you were in any way to blame. Most miscarriages are unexplained and there is no evidence to support that lack of rest or physical activity causes miscarriage. If you feel you were in some way to blame and are carrying this guilt, it would be helpful to talk to a medical professional to clarify and reassure yourself that you didn’t do anything to cause it. It is not unusual for a woman who was unhappy about being pregnant, to feel enormous guilt at somehow ‘wishing for a miscarriage’.
As with other losses in life, women need support and understanding to get through this difficult time. While the physical healing can take place within weeks, emotional healing takes much longer. It can feel like this unbearable pain will never go away. In many relationships your partner will be grieving too and you can be a comfort for each other. However, problems can arise in relationships when your partner can’t relate to what you are feeling and seems able to get on with life. It has to be remembered that he will not have had the same awareness of being pregnant and also of the intrusion of physical exams like internals and possibly a D&C that you may have had to face. Doctors and nurses involved in your care may have found it difficult to engage with you at an emotional level and may stick with the facts, coming across as cold and detached. This can be very difficult and emotionally isolating.
The loss associated with miscarriage is individual and can be huge, regardless of the number of weeks. This is one of the areas were difficulty arises and other people’s opinions (including partners, family and medical professionals) can cause hurt. Believing that the lesser number of weeks pregnant should mean less upset can be hurtful. A woman losing her baby at 4 weeks pregnant can be equally as upset as a woman losing her baby at ten weeks. There are so many variables in the woman’s loss that is unique to her. It is a loss that has to be grieved. As you move through the different stages of grieving for your baby, there will come an acceptance of your experience. It is not that you forget and move on, rather that you accept and incorporate this loss into your life experience. Expect to be sad around the date that your baby was due, possibly for many years. It is quite normal to feel this way. Expect to feel very apprehensive about future pregnancy. There would be something wrong if you weren’t. Expect when you are seventy years old to still remember that baby you lost way back then.

Emotional conflict in relationships.

Counselling — admin @ 11:05 am

Here at counselling connections this week we have been thinking about thinking. Or to be more precise we have been giving some consideration to a particular way of thinking. It could be called ‘black or white’ thinking and it is characterised by a wish on the part of the thinker to break an emotional question down to a simple ‘yes or no’ answer. This is especially the case when it comes to consideration of our relationship with a particular person in our life. It is often encountered when coming to terms with a relationship with a parent where that mother or father was absent, emotionally or physically; or when they were at times aggressive and at other times kind.
This phenomenon is also present in romantic relationships. It is not unusual for someone to be caught in confusion when trying to sort out their feelings in relation to the good and the bad in their loved one. One of the conflicts that this presents in therapy is the very straightforward one of wishing that things could be simple and that decisions about the future of a relationship were easy to make. We seem to want the other to be either good or bad and we can spend a lot of time looking over the evidence to support either of these polar opposites. More often than not there is evidence for each and a definitive answer eludes us.
It is not unusual for someone who is in therapy to suddenly declare in frustration ‘it is just not rational’ or ‘I know it’s not logical but . . . ‘. And of course both these statements are true. The conflicts we are dealing with are neither rational nor logical quite simply because they are emotional. And emotional conflict is often characterised by there being no single right answer. It is also true to say that these conflicts are not amenable to logic. This however doesn’t stop us wishing for the simple solution.
Logic would tempt us with the offer of a definitive answer whereas in reality we are dealing matters of the heart. We may need to learn to live with a level of uncertainty. This carries with it an almost inevitable level of frustration. When considering a relationship with another we have to try to learn to live with this frustration and come to terms with ‘not knowing.’ This can be difficult to bear; in particular at times of conflict in a relationship. Our thoughts can become completely taken up with the dyadic thinking of the hope of a single, simple ‘yes or no’ answer.
It is not unknown for someone in a conflicted relationship to find this sitting with ‘not knowing’ unbearable and to suddenly decide against their partner. They may then seek a complete break ignoring any pleas for discussion or attempts at reconciliation. They have at least relieved themselves of the tension of not being able to find the ‘right’ answer by making a decision and resolutely sticking to it. This is one way of resolving the question but it fails to address the underlying issue of our craving for the absolute single right, ‘black or white’ answer.
In therapy we often find that if we can learn to ‘sit with’ the tension of there not being a single right answer to a question about a loved one we can learn a great deal. It can facilitate a process of coming to terms with the good and the bad in a loved one. We can also then begin to look inside ourselves and consider what it is we are looking for in a loved one. Or what we might be looking for them to give to us. Sometimes here we uncover emotional vacuums that we have been trying to fill for most of our lives.
Coming to an acceptance of the complexity of human relationships through an examination of our own major relationships is part of the outcome of good therapy. Learning this by coming through emotional conflict with another can also facilitate a permanent change in a ‘black or white’ way of thinking and make future conflict easier to bear. By overcoming the emotional conflict with our loved one we kick start the process of overcoming an underlying tension in ourselves. We develop the ability to bear emotions that at one time felt unbearable.
Counselling Connections, Dundalk.

The comfort of home.

Counselling — admin @ 12:52 pm

Here at Counselling Connections it has been a quiet week. We have been away for a long weekend and lots of clients are on holiday at this time. It has been interesting for us to travel abroad and spend a little time visiting another country with a different culture. Having a look at how other people do things gave us the chance to reflect on the way we do things at home. It is probably easier to observe behaviour in others than it is to try to take a step back and see these things in ourselves.
Even in our modern world with global brands and marketing it is possible to find delightful local variations in food, for example without travelling too far. And it can be a joy when we get home and back to the routines of life to try to recreate a holiday meal at home. Indeed much of our modern diet is influenced by the cuisine of the Mediterranean and further afield which we have enjoyed while holidaying abroad.
For us it says something about our adaptability that we enjoy taking on the influences we come across on our travels. As children we have had the experience of watching with great interest the ways of the adults in our world. We were susceptible to all kinds of influence and took on board much of the ways of being which we had observed. Through this process and throughout childhood we developed our own way of being. It would be usual to grow in ways and to learn views which would be considered normal within our own mini culture; our family.
There are of course complicating factors in this process. It is comfortable to take on family influences which sit well with us. We find it reassuring to be part of the group and if the influence of the group feels natural and nurturing we will embrace it. It is a sad fact of life that in many groups or families the dominant culture is not a healthy one. In these circumstances a child might do their best to resist what are considered the norms of the group. This may create a way of being in relation to groups that causes difficulties over and again in work and other group settings throughout life.
We have discovered an odd fact in relation to family and home which has been experienced by people who report discomfort at being away. This is the likelihood that home was not a safe, nurturing place for them. It seems that when someone has had a good, consistent and reassuring time at home growing up that they can internalise this sensation and carry it forward through life. Conversely, people who report difficulties when they are making their way in the world or when they travel often dream of a return to home even when their experience of home when they were growing up was not a happy one.
So, holiday time is a time of discovery and a time to enjoy influences from abroad. It is a time to step out of our day to day routine. We will often then take on board some of the influences which we have come across on our travels. When we return to our normal routine of school or work we can enjoy the good of any of the little changes we have made to our lifestyle under these influences. We can also enjoy the security and comfort which we make for ourselves in our own home. It is the consistency and comfort of home which gives us the capability to travel without fear. And so it goes for holidays as it does for life.
Counselling Connections, Dundalk.

Understanding child sexual abuse.

Here at Counselling Connections we are, like many of you, following with interest the public debate on the subject of child sexual abuse. We try to refrain from public comment because our interest in the area is in quietly and privately working with survivors. Much of the public discourse in Ireland on this subject for over a decade now has surrounded abuse by church figures and subsequent cover ups. These issues have been the driving force for major social change. This change continues; we are still in the middle of the storm so to speak. And only with more time will we as a society come out the far side and then be able to look back at these times and fully understand what has been happening; how we used to be and how we are now.
From our experience of working with survivors there are a couple of aspects of abuse which we can perhaps help to shed light on; things which if they were better known would help the wider understanding of what happens in abuse and hopefully make it easier for people to come forward. The first of these is the very peculiar psychological hold which an abuser exercises over his/her victim.
We are familiar generally with the term ‘grooming’ and the idea that an abuser will spend some time trying to charm and earn the trust of a potential victim. The child can be manipulated into feeling quite special and having been specifically chosen by this adult. Repeat offenders will become accustomed to what traits or vulnerabilities to watch out for in their victim. It is often something which is difficult to come to terms with later in therapy as the full realisation of this process dawns. But at the time, initially at least the abuser’s real motivation has not yet been revealed and the child can feel quite special.
This is where it gets confusing. The psychological hold that the abuser relies on for secrecy is kept in place by fear. Sometimes this is enforced with either a threat of or a display of violence. The child is taught in no uncertain terms that they cannot even contemplate crossing this angry, frightening, powerful adult. We believe that what happens here is actually a sophisticated survival mechanism. Given the odds and their relative weakness in the face of the power of the adult, the child gives over their will completely. The abuser knows this, and plays on it.
A particularly difficult aspect of this psychological hold is that the child feels that in being powerless to act that they have in some way allowed the abuse to happen. This is not true. We can see that this is not true when we look at the size of the child compared to the power of the adult but this does not stop abusers from making children feel responsible for their own abuse. This is one of the major reasons why it is difficult for survivors to come forward to report abuse. The abuser knows this and plays on it. The child may feel like they will get into trouble if they tell and sadly time and again this fear has proven to be true. This needs to be changed.
If the psychological hold of the abuser is one thing that needs to be better understood so too does, what we here at counselling connections we call, ‘The Language of Abuse’. This is a difficult thing to describe. We feel that it is not well known or understood. If we take it that what we describe about the fear of coming forward is true then imagine what ways a child will, at different times try to let people know about what has been done to them. Some of their understandings of what happened will be couched in the language and understandings of their age; they won’t have the vocabulary or understanding of sexual matters to say it out straight.
Additionally, revelations will often only be made obliquely because the child or vulnerable adult even years later is still expecting that they themselves will be blamed or that they won’t be believed or understood. This means that a particular kind of language is used, often in a kind of code in referring to what was done. This is what we call The Language of Abuse and we feel that the subtleties of it need to be better understood in order to facilitate people in coming forward to tell their own story. It is important to believe a child, it is important just to let them talk and not to lead them. If someone is revealing details of sexual abuse to you they will be watching your reactions very, very closely. If they fear your reaction they will stop talking and often withdraw what they have already said.
This applies equally to adult survivors who reveal their stories years later and who will have a lifetime of experience of living with abuse. There is much more to be understood in this very complex field but these two points, the psychological hold of the abuser and the language of abuse are two particular aspects that, if they were widely well understood would we hope make it easier for people to come forward. If you have been abused and would like to seek counselling see our contact details or online booking for details of how to make an appointment to come to see us. Or look for qualified counsellors in your own area.
Counselling Connections, Dundalk.

Copyright © 2011 Counselling Connection, designed by Aura Internet Services