Group

Back from group. I’ve been pacing my apartment, a little manic. Today, right at the end of the group, I talked about parts. At the time, it felt kind of awful, but now I feel relief and I’m glad I did it.

Tonight I was quite afraid and keyed up. I had in mind I was going to talk about parts, and it was not a soothing prospect at all. The other thing I noticed though was I no longer felt irritated and hostile to the group members and no longer wished to say angry type things to anyone.

The conversation got started right away though in a totally different direction. A said that she’d felt that R and myself had been harsh to E. Especially R. Then Y chimed in that he also felt that R had been judgemental towards E. Then he said a lot more very complex things which escape me entirely. He gets into his head and it’s easy to lose the thread.

Then most of the rest of the time, R tried to respond to this. He got very complicated also, and I didn’t really follow. Then Ron jumped in and started therapizing, and they went back and forth for a long time about the state of R’s fragile psyche.

There was only about half an hour left, and I was getting more and more frustrated. I really wanted to talk, not necessarily about parts, but about something. So I did what a commenter had suggested to me, but which I rejected as possible at the time. I interrupted Ron in mid-analysis.

Ellen. So it seems like you bring a lot of the personal therapy into the group, and it seems like it stops the group a bit.

Ron. How so Ellen? Does it stop you?

Ellen. Well, we all stop what we might want to say in order to listen to your analysis. It’s kind of interesting, but at the same time, I’d really like to talk. I have been feeling really depressed, and things are not going well, and work is not going well, and there’s the parts situation I was going to talk about, and it’s difficult to sit and listen all evening, even though I know I’m interrupting, and I’m sorry (I turn to R.), I am sorry to interrupt you, I can see what you were saying was important.

Ron. Why don’t you talk to R about what it’s like for him if you interrupt.

Ellen. (turning to R.) Well, R, how do you feel about me interrupting? I feel like I’m being a bitch. Do you hate me?

R. smiles. No, I don’t hate you. It’s alright.

Ron. So you feel similar to R, not being seen, and afraid to interrupt because you’ll be judged?

Ellen. Yeah, I do feel like him in that way. And people in the group are super super good really. I mean, no one else interrupts, they never say anything critical, so the least little thing is a big deal. I mean, it’s nice, people are nice…but…..

The group laughs at this, and people start talking about what it’s like to want to interrupt but not wanting to stop what is happening for the person talking. It’s kind of nice that different people talk now, and it’s more interesting.

Y talks for quite a while about how he struggles to keep himself from talking. Then

Y. So I was wondering what you were going to say about parts?

Crap. I’d thought no one had noticed that comment except for Ron, who knows what I’m talking about after all.

E. (looking at the clock, there’s 15 minutes left about) Ron, you think I should talk about that then?

Ron nods his head cooly.

E. Well…OK…Ron has this idea that I should ‘share’ this particular aspect of how I work. Not sure why.

Sit in silence, because I’ve blanked out. I do not want to talk about this.

E. Well….so I have PTSD. Which I got from being abused as a young child. So then…because I was so young when this happened, I guess, my personality kind of split into parts. It’s nothing like what you see on TV though. So there are younger parts of myself…and they seem to pop up in the group sometimes. It’s difficult at work, if I suddenly switch into a part….Some parts are like me at younger ages. Some are more stuck in trauma, stuck in the abuse somehow.

E. (looking at Ron) There, I did it. OK?

Ron doesn’t respond. I sit back, relieved. At first no one says much.

Then E. leans forward.

E. So….I need more information. Can I ask you about this?

Ellen. OK. I don’t know how to explain it better, but it’s OK.

E. So when in the group did you switch into a younger part?

Ellen. Well, with you once or twice. With Y one time.

E. Like when you said ‘You’re always really mean’?

Ellen. Yeah. That was real mature.

D. (the completely silent woman) I know what you mean….I have a younger part also, that I sometimes talk from, that’s different….

D talks for a while. I’m surprised, because she has almost never talked. I nod my head encouragingly. I can’t remember now much of what she said as I was starting to space out though.

A. So how many parts are there? (A has the most serious diagnosis and has been in the mental health system, so she knows basically what I’m talking about.)

E. Well, about four I think. It’s hard to be sure. 

R. So don’t we all have parts of ourselves though….

Ellen. Yeah. There you go. We all have them. (nodding to Ron).

I’m relieved to have the conversation veer away from this. 

Ron. Well, it’s a continuum. Some have more seperate parts…

I have started to feel overwhelmed, and bend over in my chair.

Ellen. I feel awful…..

Ron. How do you feel? What do you need from us?

Ellen. (switched into a part) Bad. It’s a really bad thing to have wrong with you! I want to leave.

I gather my purse and sweater into my lap, and ready myself to make a run for the door.

Ron. I think that’s a younger part that says it’s a really bad thing….

Ellen. I don’t know. I don’t care! I just want to go home.

Ron. (something something…) Well, we have to end for tonight.

I dash for the door. I feel very angry with Ron for making me do this. Not that he really did make me, but that is how I feel at the moment. It’s his fault. I am first out the door and see no one on the way out.

Now at home I’m not longer angry, and don’t feel awful either. I feel relieved. I don’t mind discussing this next time either. People were actually interested. I’d like to discuss it a little more, especially when I’m not switched into a part.

I’m also amazed at how undefensive Ron is when I tell him I think he’s stopping the group by analyzing so much. That’s really a direct criticism, and he just wanted to hear more. At least that’s what he said. He seemed interested in what I had to say. I hope to be able to be undefensive like that some time in the future. And it feels really special somehow, that he can be like that to me, when I expect retaliation.

Good night.

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5 comments
  1. Laura said:

    wonderful, Ellen!!Love your empirical approach – testing out possibilities. I'm impressed by how well they "got it", on just the first listen! they're paying close attention.when you felt blank – that's how I'm afraid I'll feel when I have the group's attention – you just waited through it, and then something appeared?

  2. Ellen said:

    Thanks Laura. It was a big deal for me. And I was surprised that the group was so interested also. And Y picking up that tiny comment I made and asking about it – wow. And then I wasn't expecting to get as emotional as I did. Today I feel like something major happened to me…Yeah, I just waited through it. It's OK to pause sometimes. It was dissociation but very mild, so it passed quickly. I can get it so it shuts me down completely sometimes. I bet you'll do great in your group. It is a learning experience for sure. thanks for commenting!

  3. Paula said:

    Chapeau! Yes, something important and wonderful happened. You were not attending a group, but you became part of the group, belonging to this group. You became part of it. You stopped judgments, excuses, justifications and well, "whining", and allowed yourself going far beyond this.I am sure you know that what happened was not Ron's fault, nor did he make you do it. Whatever he says or suggests, it is still YOUR choice and YOUR decision. Besides why would you like giving "credit" to him, when you made something wonderful happen for yourself. You have come so far!I had to take off my blog -again- as he doesnt like the judges judgment and now tries to make my life more miserable. But I stick around and visit. You are doing so awesome.

  4. Ellen said:

    Thanks Paula. Though I didn't stop whining and judging on purpose. I moved through some feelings I was having. I know it often looks bad, but the truth is not so pretty often times. A part of me blames Ron for this pain, but I don't blame him. I'm real sorry about your blog and your ex's bad behaviour. Hope you can find a place to blog that he doesn't know about.Thanks for the kind words.

  5. Amanda said:

    I'm trying to catch up a bit, as I've been "out". While reading this, I became so very proud of you. It takes courage for each of us to tell our stories, especially outloud to others. Good for you, for being brave enough to tell your story.After I've told my story, my moods and feelings tend to go up and down. I usually feel relieved to have gotten it out, but it is tough. Thinking of you this weekend.

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