Anger, abandonment, group

I was so very angry with Ron, and I quit the group about four times I think. I’m no longer angry and I’m once again signed up to appear at the group tomorrow. I’m not even sure what happened to me.

I sent Ron a series of emails. It seemed like a lot, but it was maybe four altogether, and mostly replies. The emails start really complex, and end up boiled down to just a few points, after replying. It’s difficult to even remember why I was so very upset.

After a whole raft of complaints I had about the group, including that I dissociate to cope with the stress of it and what good is that – I boiled it down to it seemed Ron was taking E’s side, that the whole interaction was hurting my relationship with him, that he wasn’t able to hear this, and that I needed to quit the group in order to preserve my connection with him.

In my session, Ron basically dismissed my concern that he was taking E’s side. What side? he said. Then after maybe two emails, I told him he wasn’t even able to hear me on this, let alone respond, and that the ‘old’ Ron would have wanted to hear more, not shut me down.

At which point, Ron stopped defending himself and replied to keep going – to explore more of how I was feeling about this. He also offered to meet with me before the next group, or talk on the phone.

At which point, I stopped being completely furious.

I waited a day, then wrote back that it was OK, I didn’t need to meet with him.

I am trying to figure out what went so wrong for me.

I know E reminds me of my sister, whom I am estranged from. Then when Ron takes her side, it reminds me of how my sister was favoured by my dad, especially when we were older (grade 4 on maybe). The pain of Ron smiling at E, the look they exchanged right at the end of the session, the way Ron criticized me for saying what I thought about E (not by any means the whole of what I thought, just a tiny piece), that was very very intense. It still stabs me to think of it. It seemed he completely abandoned me to back E up.

I know it’s stupid to be in my emotions to this extent. It’s not adult at all. But that sense of being completely abandoned was so strong and so devastating – it’s still difficult to see how I can go back.

Every time I said I’m quitting (by email) Ron completely ignored that. He totally assumed that yes, I’ll be going back, and he’d say something like, we can discuss in email and in the group….Quite an effective method really. All that is needed is for me to stop insisting I’m quitting, and bingo, it’s assumed I’m going back.

The thought of facing E and Ron in the group is making me feel sick. But I would miss everyone else, and I’d miss hearing more of their story. It would in fact be a loss. I just somehow have to be able to tolerate E. Or rather, tolerate the emotions she throws up in me. With Ron there to make everything worse. I feel nauseous just thinking about it.

I’m not sure I feel like talking about it in the group either. Maybe I’ll just try and surf the waves quietly. If something new came up I’d try and say it, but I don’t think I want to re-hash how I felt about the last meeting.

E. is one of the most vocal group members. Three of us basically are the most vocal, myself, E and R. And of course Ron, who has started talking more and more. Sometimes I wonder if he stayed out of it more, if some things wouldn’t go better. Anyhow, she is unlikely not to say anything next time. Just if I am centre stage, E will not talk much usually.

At this point I have regained the sense that Ron cares about me also. So I have to hang onto that somehow. And be honest in the group, not dissociated like I was last time. Last time I was thinking about suicide and feeling incredibly awful. That was kind of going on on one track. Then I created another track, that acted like everything was OK, and that part listened to E and gave feedback and tried to be a good group member. That strategy gets me through life, but didn’t work well in the group, as I ended up in a complete crisis.

So I don’t want to do that again. Luckily I’m no longer feeling as awful. So being in one piece should be easier. I’ll be as real as possible, and that is the best I can do.

  1. Ellen,Good luck tonight with the group. I'm glad that you can sense Ron cares about you. It seems clear to me from how you describe him and your sessions.Thinking of you,Di

  2. Ellen said:

    Thanks for encouraging me Di. I'll be scared but I'm going.

  3. Lisa said:

    You don't have to go if you don't want to. Ron can't tell you what to do.

  4. Ruth said:

    Ellen, I hope thing went as you wanted. I suspect however that the dynamics of the group are similar to the ones you felt in childhood and will increase the pressure until the pieces come together. Sometimes things get darker before they get better. You are doing amazing work expressing your concerns to Ron. Thinking about you.Ruth

  5. Ellen said:

    @ Lisa – That's true. But he has such huge influence….A part of me wants to quit, but another part wants to continue. So I continue. Nice to meet you, and thanks for commenting!@ Ruth – Actually, things went better, thanks Ruth. Couldn't get any worse really. You could be bang on about the group dynamics. Thanks for the encouragement, I really appreciate it.

  6. Laura said:

    hi Ellen, this is old news now, but I can't help commenting!This has happened to me so many times, I'll feel totally miserable, feeling cut off from Howard, and then we re-connect somehow, and it's hard to remember why I was so upset.I think Ron's "defensiveness" is part of your expectation about how other people are, it's your old map, and doesn't have much to do with Ron or what's happening in the moment. his questions seem quite reasonable and exploratory, about how you are responding to stimuli – but you see them as deflecting's so interesting what he's looking at, really getting into the nitty gritty of what happens (let's go to slo-mo!) before you dissociate – and you are SO CLEAR about what you're feeling, that I'm sure you'll find out something really interesting, something that hinders your relationships, keeps you from letting people in.I too hope you'll examine your responses to E in the group rather than avoiding them, she's a pot of gold for YOU. this is what group is good for, people pushing your buttons, so you can learn about yourself, and rewire as necessary.And if Ron appears to favor or protect her, the way your Dad favored your sister? try putting it out there. great stuff happenin'

  7. Ellen said:

    HI Laura,It's funny how that happens – connection broken, then re-connection, then amnesia for the pain of break. For me also. I'm glad you see Ron this way, as undefensive. That's how I've seen him in the past, but don't feel that at present. But it is confusing, and it's good to get your input.I am totally up for exploring what happens when I dissociate (go blank). I was thinking that before also – I am having these negative interactions with Ron in the group, and I'd like to know why that happens. I might take your advice about talking about E and my relationship. I couldn't face it last week, but maybe next time. I guess the difficulty for me is I can see pretty clearly that she isn't causing my reactions by what she's doing. She's triggering off crap. So it's difficult for me to get through seeing her side, being reasonable, staying adult and nice. But if I keep doing that, I'll never get through this to the other side. I might tackle it by talking about why I wanted to quit, my problem with Ron and her (however unjustified), and like you say, my family.Thanks for the encouragement Laura! A lot of people don't get groups, but you definitely do. Appreciate it.

  8. Laura said:

    "But if I keep doing that (being nice, adult), I'll never get through this to the other side."I think that's right – according to my textbook. What you tried was good to find out. You can pick your moment, when you're ready. I think it's great how you try new things out! GREAT. ps, you don't HAVE to talk about group. Even if he suggests it. See if he nods off. You hate sharing him! but then you were eager to talk about group with R!I try to be a good person, too. Do I remind you of your sister?

  9. Ellen said:

    Thanks. Yeah, I don't have to talk about the group. It is tempting though. The thing is, then we never get to discuss other things that I need to talk about. Actually, when it goes badly, talking about the group is very necessary. Yeah, and talking with R was great. For one thing, there aren't other pressing matters to discuss!The good person thing – I also try to be a good person. The problem that can happen is then we are fake – because good people don't express irritation, etc. That's my problem with it with my sister and with E. It's like a screen. Thanks for the comments.

  10. I totally get how you are feeling here. I think I'd feel the same. Obviously, I'm not there to see it and you might have different views at different times but it does sound like Ron takes sides and if so that's painful.

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