by Imogen O’ Connor
I owe so much as a psychotherapist and as a person, to my clients, to the professional training I have received, and to my therapists. To my clients: who, by giving of themselves so generously, have given me the most profound experiences of connection. To the late Miceal O’Regan and the staff at the Institute of Psychosynthesis and Transpersonal Theory: who not only gave me such an excellent professional training but the imperative to practice a daily, mindful, embodied presence to self. To my therapists, Rosaleen Doyle, Ger Murphy and Marian Dunlea: for showing me the way back to myself.
The following poems explore this theme of connection, with self and other. The Space Between Us describes what Martin Buber has called healing through meeting – those moments of connection which transform both client and therapist.
Goodbye deals with the therapist’s experience of the end of a therapeutic relationship, and the redemptive loss arising from such a deep therapeutic connection.
In The Hero’s Journey I explore my own understanding of Assagioli’s conception of the self; how the self is present in its entire complexity from birth, but in ‘compressed’ form (in the same way as the potential for oak tree is contained within the acorn). The poem describes the unfolding of the self through a person’s lifetime, as consciousness evolves and expands, through the development of an ego, into the potential for a grounded experience of the transpersonal self. It is my belief that while we accompany our clients on only a small part of this epic journey into selfhood, it is our task to accompany ourselves fully to the very end of our beginnings.
So, to my clients, to the staff at Eckhart House, and to my therapists, for all that I have received, the only gift I can give you all is gratitude.
The Space Between Us I have sat in silence in the presence of another And witnessed the light from each of us Reach outwards to embrace the other Without touching. I have savoured the Divine Melting slowly like matter On the tip of the tongue. I have given myself over To the space cleared Of voice and hypothesis And have felt the seed of healing Pulsate like a furnace. I have witnessed all these things And stilled the need for speaking.
GoodbyeThe moment has arrived When I hold my breath Against the open door of goodbye, And against the empty seat, still warm With seven years of grinding The knife of pain into joy. Not surprisingly, I am as changed as he, As healed, as wholed, as freed, Yet this moment of his leaving Lingers heavy and sharp In the flesh of my heart, And my eyes follow him With their trembling light As he walks down the path, Through the gate, into the evening street And away round the corner Of a future I cannot see. I close the door, In a yawn of silence. And turn in the empty dark, startled By the Present curled on the chair Waiting for me to gather her up In the arms of my next breath – The Hero’s Journey You and I Are walking towards The cave of our beginnings. I thought we were walking straight Towards that spark On the horizon, But in fact, we are walking a curve Masquerading as a line As it curls round to the back step Of that dark place From which we became, Before memory was erased by flesh. We have spent a lifetime Forgetting what we now toil So bravely to reclaim. I pray that we will enter the womb room Through the low back door With wrinkled skin and hearts drooping wisdom And in that still tomb We might see the familiar With the newness of old eyes. We would tip back our heads in delight That we have come home finally To taste our cask of holy wine And to drink deep Through the seasoned lips Of a lifetime.
Imogen O’Connor originally trained as a social worker then worked as a psychotherapist in the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre before moving into private practice as a therapist and supervisor. Over the last year she has been experimenting with poetry as a medium in her own personal development for accessing the unconscious and uncovering a deeper personal connection with self. She and her family have recently moved from Dublin to Co. Sligo.