Group and a flashback

I am feeling confused. I think I am so hungry for human contact that when I get it it confuses the heck out of me.

I will describe my group as it pertained to me. I am now finding I get some pleasure out of the group. There is something really fun about saying what I really think to people. Not being mean about it, either, but sticking with how I see things. It never really occurred to me that I could do that, as a lot of my life has been about covering up the real situation.

I had been horribly anxious all day, and was also afraid of the group, so again took half a xanax to get me over the hump. It helps a bit.

We sit in that difficult silence to start, wondering who will break it. A starts off by asking R what he meant when he said she didn’t provide feedback. She is crying a bit and upset. They go back and forth for a bit. Then I chime in that I also feel that A doesn’t give much in the way of feedback. She does express her own stuff though. So she is upset, and it goes on for a while. I argue with A for a bit – she feels she is slow, and can’t think of anything insightful…I argue that I’ve heard her respond very fast and on the dot.

Ron always wants to therapize with A, so he talks to her for a bit, about being real, etc. He acts as if he is the only one that can understand A’s fragile nature, as if only he knows the right thing to say…He isn’t like that with the other group members, only with A. I find it a bit irritating. They kind of meld into each other – him with the soft, soothing voice, A tearful and distressed, turning to him for comfort, lots of intense eye contact. I’m being a bit catty, but yeah, it bugs me.

But A is upset about this….so I say I’m sorry I said anything, because she is so upset. A says no, she appreciates my feedback and is interested in everything I have to say. Someone else says also they appreciate what I say in the group.

E. Well, that’s good…I was thinking everything I said was crap. My voice isn’t good….(my voice is kind of hoarse).

I can’t remember how this worked, but the upshot was about three people said they liked my feedback and what I brought to the group. I was really surprised and happy.

E. I guess things are not as bad as I think then….

Ron. Ellen, can you see how you’re taking something really positive, and devaluing it? You say things are not as bad as you think…but you’re getting the really positive feedback that people appreciate what you say.

E. Um, yeah, I guess that’s true. It’s good. (smiling)

R. (to me) I’m glad you chimed in about A….it made me feel less alone.

I’m surprised, because I hadn’t been thinking of R at all. I’d thought the same thing about A as he had, and that was why I said that.

Then A gives feedback to Y about what he talked about last time, so they talk about that. I mention that Y said something about suicidal thoughts, to me, at the end of last session, and I hadn’t responded, but did he want to talk about it? He says he thinks he was competing with me, to show he too had serious problems. lol. Anyway, he obviously doesn’t want to talk about it, so I don’t say anything else.

This is all the stuff that is about me, so I’m leaving out a bunch of things.

R.  So when you said that last time, about me having an honest face – it meant a lot to me. It was one of the nicer things anyone’s said to me…

E. (totally surprised) Yeah? Well you do have an honest face. For some reason, I believe what you say to me. And….you are so nice to me in the group.

R. Well, I like you. (or something)

E. (I’m smiling, but getting really embarrassed) Thanks…God this is embarrassing.

So we just sit there smiling for a bit.

Then some other business happens. Throughout, a part of me has been participating and enjoying some of this, while another part has stayed very afraid. Now the frightened part gets overwhelmingly loud. There is a pause in what’s happening, so I say this.

E. I’m feeling really afraid.

Ron When did it start?

E. I don’t know. It’s been a while.

I start explaining about needing to leave, and what dissociation is like. Y asks me some questions about it, and I explain.

Ron. So instead of explaining, could you next time just stay with the feelings that come up?

E. Sure. You want me to do that now?

Ron. Yes, if they’re still there.

E. Well, I feel afraid. I feel fear going up my neck…

I just feel the fear for a bit.

E. I feel all alone, as if I’m by myself entirely. It’s as if I’m on an ice floe, it’s breaking off and I’m floating off by myself….I don’t want to do this.

I start getting up to leave the room, then sit back down.

E. I really want to leave…..

I’m in the middle of a kind of a flashback, and it’s overwhelming me. I feel fear, shame, and anger….

E. I’m really angry…..

I can’t remember what happens now. Ron says some things. Then he asks if it would be OK to ask the group to comment, and I say OK, though I can’t really listen to anyone, as I’m immersed in this experience.

E. I wish this wasn’t happening…. I wish I could do things right….

A. I just wish I could hold you right now and comfort you….

E. Yeah?

I can’t take this in at all. I don’t really care what A. says. I just want to get the hell out of there.

R. It seems like a really powerful overwhelming experience. When you put your hand up to your head like that….I don’t know. It seemed….like maybe you should say ‘fuck off’ or something.

E. Yeah? That’s true…it is overwhelming. And…and…I’m not angry with you! I don’t feel angry!

I’m surprised at this, because in a flashback, I feel furious with everyone, and with anything Ron says to me especially. Ron says some stuff in a soft therapist type voice.

Ron. Would it help if I sat closer to you? Or if someone else sat closer?

E. I don’t know….

Ron says something else.

E. And you totally totally suck! You’re supposed to be helping me, and you’re not helping.

Great. Angry kid part is here.

E. And I just want to kill myself. I’d be better off dead, really.

We all just sit.

E. (other E) So I can see how difficult this must be. I thought from the other day, when you interrupted, that it was disruptive, but if this is how you feel…wow….

I start to cry at this. Because E is actually being supportive, and her words just touch me. I see now why people in the group like her – she does have a maternal and nurturing side. Then it kind of gets wrecked.

Ron. How come you’re crying?

Ellen. Because E was nice to me. You were nice. That’s the first nice thing you’ve ever said to me. Usually you’re mean.

E. That’s not true! I’ve said plenty of nice things to you! You’ve really hurt my feelings.

Ellen. Oh…that was a childish way of putting things. (Yep, kid part.) We should discuss this sometime…not now…..

We sit. Meeting is almost finished.

Ron. Can I say one more thing? I think you shred the kleenex….

I have this habit of shredding kleenex as the meeting goes on. I’d forgotten that I do that actually, I’m so used to it.

Ron. You’re shredding them instead of crying tears.

Or something like that. I’m not sure just what he says, because it makes me mad.

E. That’s just stupid. No way is that the reason I shred kleenex.

Real mature. 

Ellen. You guys should talk. I’m just going to sit here. 

I can’t remember what else happens.

Ron. So a lot has happened here tonight. Remember, we’re not meeting next week.

When Ron closes the meeting, I grab my coat and head out the door first. I don’t say anything to anyone. I’m still in the feelings of the flashback. I just want to get the hell home and into bed.

Now, the day after, the feelings have finally faded. I no longer feel anxious. It was tough, as the flashback kind of went on after I got home, and I felt it all day today. Until at one point in the afternoon, it suddenly lifted, and I felt a bit happy.

I’m glad I’m getting along better in the group. I’m glad some people seem to like me. Well, mainly R. I think I’m scaring A. But someone else said they liked what I said, though I can’t remember who it was. I feel more comfortable there. Except for this parts / flashback problem. I can’t go into that in every group. Maybe now that I’ve done it, it won’t keep coming back?

I’m confused about R continually saying he likes me. I’m maybe triggering his mother issues, as I’m older than he is, and he’s talked a bit about his mother, who had emotional struggles. Sigh. Makes me feel old. But it’s also nice to be liked for no good reason really. I’m not doing anything for him.

I’m also confused by my anger with Ron, when at the same time I need him, and I feel jealous of his liking for the other women clients. I do always get angry with flashbacks though. That is predictable.

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5 comments
  1. Laura said:

    Ron seemed off-base when he said you were devaluing… it seems like you assume that people don't value you, when you are interpreting their responses in your head, you tend to go negative – but you didn't devalue their actual feedback. You were pleasantly surprised.I always liked your comments on Harriet's blog, which is why I'm here. Your comment about Ron and A, that "He acts as if he is the only one that can understand A's fragile nature, as if only he knows the right thing to say" – it seems like he's also the only one who has some idea of what's going on with you, too. Would you say that his interactions with you in group are different than his interactions with you in session? Do you want some of what he and A share?oi

  2. Ellen said:

    Hi Laura, Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised for sure. Too bad about Harriet stopping her blog…I hate it when someone's blog ends.It's interesting about A…Ron doesn't act as if he's the only one who can understand me. At all. I think he feels especially protective about A. I mentioned this in my session today, and the fact that she is very young, so I wouldn't expect to merge myself with him in that way….And Ron didn't say much, but did point out that a part of me is young also. I hadn't thought of that at all. So yes, I'd like for Ron to feel like that about me also. Painful stuff.Thanks Laura

  3. Laura said:

    do you mean he swoops in, knocking other people out of the way to help A?I particularly think of this post of yours: 12/10/11. I would think of that if I were feeling adrift.I was telling Howard this week that I thought our relationship was at its lowest point ever… I guess I assumed that it would get better and better. At one point I felt so close to him, but that was long ago. I think you can count on him to be there in a crisis, but he will not always be a warm bath.My mother shows no emotion either!

  4. Ruth said:

    Another perspective about feeling angry with Ron…I noticed that when I was first starting to allow myself to feel angry my counselor was one of the first targets. I finally realized that he was safe to get angry at. I could be angry at him without him harming me. I think Ron may consider this a good sign that you feel safe enough to be angry with him.

  5. Ellen said:

    @ Laura – Not quite like that, but he seems impatient with other people's comments to her and eager to always give her his input. Which isn't the case really for the rest of us.I re-read that post, thanks. Amazing you remember. It makes me feel sad, that I felt like that in the past, and that Ron cared enough to try and connect with me like that then. Nothing like that happened this time, and it's like he no longer cares in the same way. I'm sorry you are going through similar with Howard. Maybe we do have a similar dynamic going on in our therapies. thanks for the thoughts. @ Ruth – It may be a good sign. I think the other group members were surprised though. Thanks Ruth

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