This session we discussed the group and my family. There’s almost no traffic driving to Ron’s office, even in the middle of Saturday afternoon. Amazing.
Ron looks a little tired today. It turns out he’s had a cold also, plus he’s working on the weekend to make up for his holiday.
Not sure what I remember, as I’m still foggy headed from the cold / cold meds combo. First up we talk about the vital subject of his dead plant. Ron has had a dead plant, planted in a decorative pot, sitting on the corner of his desk for the last few months. I have mentioned it before, and I actually think about this plant between sessions. This time, I go to get it and put it on the little table next to my couch. I wonder what kind of plant it was, and Ron doesn’t know and tries to describe it. He tells me more about the plant, which I find boring.
I actually wonder what this dead plant symbolizes. He’s hanging on to it, not able to let go….hmm…..Anyway, I don’t get into this and we quickly abandon the plant. I want to talk about group.
E. I wanted to talk to you about group – it’s starting next week.
E. I felt I didn’t do a good job last time….I want to do better this time. I don’t want to attack some woman for no reason.
R. You talked about what was real for you….I don’t think you ‘didn’t do a good job’.
E. I find the group so difficult. I didn’t see….I would have liked it if you would have brought in people who weren’t able to talk much. I used to be like that, I know what it’s like, and you just can’t talk, you need help.
R. I think how you are in the group reflects how you are in the world. If you can’t talk much in the group, maybe you aren’t able to take up much space in your world. The group allows you to try and work on that.
E. Well, that person didn’t seem able to work on that last year.
Ron feels that any interference on his part won’t allow people to do their own work I suppose. Isn’t he supposed to be there to help though?
E. And I had problems with how unequally the time was divided up – some people took so much. And I know I took a lot, because it emerged that if I didn’t, this one person would take it up anyway…
R. Maybe that is something you could bring in then – what you see happening.
Well, I did that last year and got attacked for it by someone else in the group. That’s life in a group though I suppose.
E. I just think it would be good if there was mutual support – I would like to think of the group as a healing force, not a negative place.
R. The group is not like a group of friends getting together to help each other out. It’s different. It’s a place to give your real reactions to people so we can all learn from that. The way you show support for the other members is by being real, by saying what you really feel, and by respecting confidentiality.
E. I think a problem I have is with parts. They want to chime in, and they disrupt. So I can practice not having them take over. The group is a way to practice, right?
R. Not really. The group is an experience you can have, which can change the way you show up in the world. You can do things in group that wouldn’t be appropriate with friends or at work.
E. I just get so anxious, at least I did last year. I find it really difficult to even stay in the room sometimes.
R. But we came up with a way for you to stay.
E. Well, if I talk about it. But then I’m interrupting whatever is going on.
R. Yes, well it’s complicated.
E. So what is it we’re supposed to do in the group then? It’s not support – so we talk about our problems?
R. You get the most benefit from interacting with other members of the group about what’s going on in the present moment, between people. Yes, of course you can bring in your problems, but the present day interaction is the most valuable aspect.
E. So do you tell all your clients that then?
R. More or less.
I like the idea of the current interaction being important. I know from last year, most people in the group were not really getting that aspect of it, IMO. However, at least I know what Ron is trying to do.
Ron says a lot more about the group, but I can’t remember what he said. It’s as if he is speaking in written paragraphs – I follow at the time but immediately forget the content. He’s kind of lecturing. It’s OK, because I do want to know how this group is supposed to work, though I also hate being lectured. But Ron has obviously thought a lot about this and likes to talk about it. It’s OK.
E. Remember a couple of sessions ago, when I left early?
Ron nods his head.
E. Well, one of the things I thought about that week, besides what we talked about, was that time I needed to talk in the group and wasn’t allowed to. At the end there, it was really falling apart for me, and I was trying to listen to Z talking about how she really didn’t want to talk but was forcing herself to. I needed to talk so badly, and there wasn’t room. You weren’t keen on my talking either. I totally understand that I’d talked a lot in the last few sessions, and you wanted to change the subject and move on. But I couldn’t. I just remembered how awful that was for me, how painful.
R. So I didn’t support you at that point? Did you insist again on talking?
E. No, I guess I could have tried harder. I just don’t want to get into that situation again.
Ron doesn’t say much to this. I’m kind of relieved – he seems to be taking in how I felt instead of continuing the lecture on how his group works. It feels good to at least be heard about this, which to me was a really hurtful experience, even though I can see other points of view about it. I was massively upset about the fight myself and another group member had gotten into, and couldn’t let go of it.
It’s just going to be difficult for me in the group, for whatever reason.
We also talk a bit about how when people are sitting silently, they’re still working in the group. And I say that I don’t think people are expressing themselves by sitting silently, and Ron agrees. And I say that I really have trouble sitting silently, but that’s what the other members are able to do, as a fall back position. It doesn’t seem fair that that doesn’t work for me. I’m hoping this time I’ll be able to sit quietly a lot more. At least I know the difficulties going in, so I’m better prepared.
It’s funny, because Ron talks about the goodness of responding in the moment, but really, for me, I need to be able to tolerate not responding in the moment for longer. I get frustrated with the group for keeping so much to themselves, but on the other hand, it is an adult thing to do. There’s a balance there, and I want to be able to keep things to myself until it’s a good time to share them.
Anyway, at least we talked about these things so I’m prepared to plunge into the full catastrophe of it next week.
…to be continued