Group revisited

I’ve been thinking a lot about last night’s group today. I had to do a lot of admin type stuff today, as the tax guy was coming, and then try to work, which is lots of details, and I found it made me incredibly tense. I just want to feel, not think, not organize. I want to feel until I’ve digested this group experience. It’s as if it’s all pushing at me and I have to push it away so I can do ordinary things. Around three oclock I give up on tasks and let myself be a  bit. What a relief.

I think my big issue with the group, aside from various interpersonal stuff, is the issue of do I belong, and if so, what part of myself can belong? This is a huge issue in my life also, especially played out at work. I mostly feel that no, I do not belong, and if I do, only the most mature approved part of me can be there.

Because Ron is there, a lot of parts of myself come rushing up it seems. Then, because I’m in a public situation, and because it’s what I’ve always done, I do my best to push them back down. This causes me all kinds of fear and panic. I try to let off steam by giving parts little things to do – shred kleenex, sometimes make kid-like comments. I’m the only person who ever smiles or chuckles in the group for instance, though people sometimes join me.

Anyway, it doesn’t seem to be enough, because I get more and more anxious as the evening goes along, and end up needing to flee towards the end. Or interrupt in a panic.

What to do. I’m really not sure. To be part of it, I would have to speak when I’m afraid, instead of fleeing. On the other hand, it can’t be all about me and my issues every evening can it?

I kind of wish the group was meeting again tonight, or tomorrow, and I could try some things out. I also have a bunch of things I want to say to people about what went on. It’s frustrating to have to wait a week, by which time I’ll have forgotten what I wanted to say, and I will have a different energy anyway.

For instance, I still want to thank A for her kind words to me two weeks ago, when I ignored them. And I want to ask Z, if she has anyone to call and talk to about the incident she went through with her class. She’s said she feels pretty isolated, and yet you need someone to talk to when things go wrong. She was talking about how she was expressing it and allowing the feelings, but it’s still good to talk.

And I would ask E why on earth she accepts R’s treatment of her, even when he’s clearly out of order, and just keeps asking why he doesn’t like her. She attacks me easily enough. And she really attacked D. But with R, she’s almost like a victim. R interrupted her on purpose, while she was talking, because, he said, she was ‘playing therapist’, and started talking himself. She didn’t mention it for two weeks, let alone at the time, and even then she never suggested he was out of order. Just – why oh why? It’s kind of funny. When I interrupted someone else, while she wasn’t even talking, because I was in a panic, she had no trouble immediately saying she felt frustrated by me. So I might ask her this. I guess probably she really likes R, but that is not the case with me or D.

And I might say to R, (this is the fellow who said he liked me BTW) that it often seems as if he’s hovering above the group. He kind of provides a calm analysis, or even a statement about how he feels in response to someone asking him, but he never seems to actually be involved as a player himself. What he says is interesting, and everyone is kind of impressed at how calmly he is able to express himself….but if anyone is playing therapist, it’s him. I believe this is his third group, so he has learned a lot about what he can do in a therapy group. But he’s supposed to be one of us.

I will talk a bit about parts next time. Maybe I’ll grab time right at the start. I don’t mind anymore, and also, I must get Ron onto a new subject and off the subject of my disclosing this, as he’s driving me nuts with it. He he. I know you thought I was there already.

I said some cutting things about Ron’s looks last post, which was childish. Ron looks good and I like his looks. He comes from a certain European country and kind of has a look of that country, which I like. And he’s thin and long limbed, a look I find appealing. I guess when I’m angry at him, I don’t like much about him for that hour anyway, but it passes.

Part of the feelings I’ve been trying to feel are being terribly judged by E. All the ways I feel people at work judge me, I feel she also judges me. She is the most conventional person there, well educated, working for the government, groomed in a professional way, so she reminds me of all that I am not. And she reminds me of my sister judging me. It’s painful but I can see I’m bringing a lot to this situation, she really isn’t doing that much bad stuff to me. 

All in all, I’m glad I have the group, and while it plunges me into anxiety often times, it’s still a good thing.

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7 comments
  1. Laura said:

    I wonder if it's possible that your sister could shed light on your memories, or if she was also abused… is she older?It seems as if group is designed to be messy and leave lots of loose ends of the sort that you describe. things that are said, and not said, and the feelings that result, fester, and burst out.I think you were able to interrupt and also talk about your issues without taking the whole session.I remember the deference of the group members for the group leader – perhaps you could share your comment when you start to feel annoyed – would you guys mind taking this discussion into private session? Or could we open it up to the group?I think that if there's something that is preventing you from staying in the room, that it's worth the group's time – and perhaps you could ask the group?might it be that your attachment to Ron feels threatened whenever you miss a connection and that causes a backlash of anxiety? Like with the phone-call, and this group.It sounds as if you are connecting with the group, though, feeling very stimulated by it.What would belonging feel like?

  2. Laura said:

    "I am trying to be involved, and I am angry at first, then kind of feel resolved, then lose interest." It's amazing to me that you can be aware moment to moment of these changes, as well as paying attention to what people are saying and doing, and what's happening outside of you!

  3. Ellen said:

    HI Laura,My sister is a year younger than myself. I don't know if she could shed light, as we don't talk. It is designed to be that way. Your feelings are supposed to get stirred up so you can try to deal in a different way than usual. Or at least observe yourself I suppose. Good point, I didn't take the whole session before. Forgot that.I might say something about the group leader in my session….I'm not sure I would go as far as saying 'take it to your session…' that makes me really uncomfortable. I'm not a professional, I don't know what's best for group therapy.I don't know what the anxiety is about, except that it does involve Ron and also my past. Hmm….I did feel belonging the session before the group. I felt I was connecting with people. And I went into my feelings of anxiety. I think leaving is not good for feeling connected – it's taking myself out of the equation in order to keep the peace as it were. I do tend to be in touch with what I'm feeling often – just that I get overwhelmed by it. Thanks for the insights and questions! Hope your weekend is good.

  4. Laura said:

    you don't have to know how group therapy works, you're not the therapist – you can say how you're feeling – "excuse me, but this seems like a private discussion between you two, and I'm feeling…". You're not the only person who's feeling bored, or irritated, or shut out, or jealous – if that helps. I think I learned that in group, and maybe that helps with belonging. You're saying what you feel, being authentic, under varying (more challenging) conditions. It may not change what they're doing.It looks like I'll be joining a group in a month or so. that kind of "deference" brings out an anti-authoritarian streak in me. The GL won't be my individual therapist, so perhaps I feel more free?have a good weekend!

  5. Ellen said:

    Hi Laura – When you explain it like that, it does make sense. I'm torn with the group as to how negative I want to be. It's good to be authentic, but I also want to be supportive and kind, because I feel that also. But it's a good point, I'll think about it for next time. I guess I actually feel deferential to Ron also, along with the rest of the group, if I'm honest. But I also know he is OK with people disagreeing with him, and often even welcomes that.That's great you are joining a group. I think it's a different dynamic if the GL is not your therapist, for sure. I'd love to hear about it if you ever want to describe it a bit. cheers

  6. Laura said:

    "I'm torn with the group as to how negative I want to be. It's good to be authentic, but I also want to be supportive and kind, because I feel that also."If I were in a therapy group because my relationships are unsatisfying and/or I feel inauthentic, then your 'negative' response, if articulated, might very possibly be the most 'helpful'. (say, you have difficulty feeling my pain). Even if it initially hurts my feelings. Remember that you're not burdened with delivering "The Truth About You" – your own perceptons and responses are probably distorted by your experiences – you're just saying what your response is. I get an image of a high school science class, comparing readings on their hand-held meters. "This is what I'm getting – what are you getting?" And when I'm feeling A, B and C, that's what I'd want to share. And if I'm hesitant to share C, because of N and D, I'd want to say that. ALL of that is what's present.I just got a document to prepare me for the group I'm hoping to join – I'll send it to you if I can locate an email address for you.

  7. Ellen said:

    Hi Laura – Yeah, those are good points. It's a little tough to do in practice, but can be kind of fun (not being hurtful, I mean saying what I really feel). Usually one or the other part of the equation gets left out – the supportive part, or the impatient part…I don't know, I find it difficult.My address is eileen n 88 at hotmail dot com. No spaces. I'd be interested to see the doc. Ron didn't prepare us at all for our group.

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