School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: January 2010
Living the Dream: fulfilment, interconnection and realisation

By Kerri Cripps

As some of you know I have made a video poem, with my friend Helen, about my brother Simon’s suicide, which I am going to present at the International Association of Process Oriented Psychology (IAPOP) conference in
Portland in Feb 2010. The video focuses on the dreaming behind the suicidal process and explores what needs to die and what un-killable spirit needs to be lived more fully. We used art work, movement and shape-shifting and we had a strong sense of connection with Simon throughout.

More surprisingly we also had a sense of support and involvement at the dreaming level from my father – he kept arriving as a dream figure and asking if he could be a part of the healing work we were doing – on the everyday level this was very challenging because a big part of why Simon killed himself was the sexual abuse he, and I, had experienced from my father as we grew up.  So I was initially very reluctant to agree to let my dad be involved at all. Eventually after various dialogues he convinced us that at least on a dreaming level he really was ready to move beyond his denial of the abuse and wanted to be part of the healing process. His participation has enriched our work and many healing dialogues have happened. Most recently Helen and I were trying out an earth based vector exercise we have developed to explore what is ready to die. We each had a turn and found it very powerful. To help us ground our insights, we decided to go for a walk in the woods at the back of my house. After a while I felt my father’s presence asking if he could try the exercise! After a brief dialogue Helen agreed to facilitate and I agreed I would become him (words are inadequate to describe this process –it is mysterious and for now seems to need to remain so). It turned out to be a very slow, and delicate piece of work – at one point I/he/we felt as if we were walking along a cliff edge, at each step risking falling to our death. Helen asked if he was sure he wanted to continue and he said, ‘Yes – it’s difficult and dangerous for me, but I know how important this is and I want to do it’. His voice was very soft and Helen moved closer to him, he recoiled and asked her to move back a bit and then broke down, overcome by the impact of a sudden visceral understanding, he sobbed ‘Oh God! Oh Kerri I am so sorry!’ It seemed that the part ready to die was his total denial and the part needing more life was his openness to feeling the impact of his actions and beginning to take some responsibility for them. Afterwards Helen and I wondered if such powerful dream work would have an impact in the everyday world.


A few days later, I was dithering about buying my plane ticket, annoying Helen who had done all the research about the best flights and was ready to book hers. To get me over my edge I cried out for a clear signal that it was right for me to fly all the way to Portland for a 90 min presentation of our suicidal wisdom, and included in it a request for some financial support towards the cost of the flight.  A few days later my sister rang to tell me that my father had decided to give each of his children, including me, £1000 each. On one level this is fairly ordinary – my father has sold his house and moved into a smaller one and is giving of his children some money – but on another level it is part of a big dreaming process. In the past my father has threatened to cut me, and Simon, out of his will, and once when I asked him for some money, he told me he couldn’t give me any because it would be an admission of guilt.


To have reached a point where I can create bridges between the dreaming and my everyday world and receive something positive from my father that directly supports bringing my suicidal wisdom out into the world is both amazing and challenging! So not surprisingly actually receiving the cheque was not entirely straightforward. It has been a journey woven of grief and joy, despair and hope; nightmares and dreams; the ordinary and the extraordinary. Little me had allsorts of anxieties about the consequences of accepting money from my father – are there strings attached? What other more painful gifts might come with the money? What will those people who believe that if it had really happened I wouldn’t have anything to do with him, make of it? What if opening a bridge between the dreaming and everyday life allows more bad memories to cross? What if people find out the weird things I’ve been doing and think I really am mad, or that I’ve just made all of it up? And on and on and …


Suddenly a dream warrior appeared and stepped between me and my fears: Stop! Live your dreams! Let die what needs to die and let the un-killable spirit live more fully. You know that a shift has happened on the dreaming level, so accept this evidence that there has been a shift here too. The litany of fears died down immediately and was replaced by awe and gratitude. And before I rang my father to arrange to visit him I beamed gratitude to his dreaming self, and I gathered my frightened little selves together and we imagined a beautiful dream bridge with strong guards at either end who would only allow positive gifts to cross between the worlds. I was very aware of stepping into a protector role that had been missing in my childhood, but still it wasn’t enough - the first visit I arranged was cancelled because my father was ill. So next I asked Helen to add a discrete thank you to my father in the video poem credits, and I made a very clear statement to the mysterious Tao about definitely wanting the money as well as all the gifts of awareness that I had already received.


When I rang to arrange another visit my dad was at the bank and a few days later the cheque was in my hand and I was thanking him and telling him that the money was an answer to a prayer and that I would use it to buy my ticket to Portland where I was going to show a video poem. He liked  this idea but he didn’t ask what the video poem was about and so I didn’t tell him. In the past I might have just gone ahead and told him anyway but this time I really wanted to respect the dream work we had done and not get too close. I felt much more able to just accept him as he was.


After I left I discovered I had also received another huge gift: a realisation that I have such a clear sense of my self separate from my history, that enabled me not only to accept the money, but also to accept that my father behaved as if we just have a ‘normal’ relationship. And I didn’t lose myself, or feel the need to defend, or assert myself, I just let him be. This feels especially significant because 20 years ago when I first began to recover my memories of the abuse I stopped all contact with my father, because each time I saw him I lost my self as soon as I walked through his door, only to have the painful memories come flooding back in as soon as I left. This time I left with an expanded sense of my whole self and of the awesome journey I/we have been on.  And I fully felt the freedom of having completely left my history behind. At least until the next time I need it to help me take the next step on this awesome journey that is life.


With love and gratitude to all of you who helped me along the way


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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.