First group

Group started again. I’m a bit confused as to how it went. Now I’ve had therapy on top of that, so things are swirling in my mind.

It is raining, but I get there in plenty of time anyway. I am so nervous in the hours before group, I have taken a xanax and drunk a couple of glasses of wine to calm down. Plus watched a trashy DVD. I don’t feel drunk at all – the wine just takes the edge off my fear, leaving me feeling normalish.

I see R. on the way in. He’s hiding up against the wall having a cigarette. He looks unhappy. I look over at him, but I don’t wave or nod. I’m annoyed with him and not feeling friendly, particularly.

One by one, every single person from last year comes in the door, except for A. I’m surprisingly happy to see them all, even E, my nemesis from last time, even R, who dumped me as a friend. No-one new has joined.

I’m not going to describe the group in detail because of confidentiality. About half of us, including me, talked a bit about our experience last year and what we hope to change this year. I said I was hoping to be able to sit more with my reactions, and not need to blurt them out right away. Also hoping not to need to leave the group to hang out in the washroom anymore.

D, who was practically silent all last year, speaks up and says that this year she is determined to talk more and be a part of it. I tell her it had really disturbed me that she didn’t participate more last year – I knew how it felt actually to feel unable to talk, and how difficult that gets.

Overall, I feel somewhat fake in the group. I have a kind of outgoing social facade working for me. I do say what I want to say regarding people in the group, and what I hope to do. I kind of nag some people to talk…..when in a way that is not my business. But if only the same three of us talk this year, it will not be interesting.

E. says she finds me ‘triggering’. I’d changed the subject, at a pause in the group, and she doesn’t like that. I tell her I feel no animosity towards her…which is kind of true. I have let the past year’s conflict go I think (hope). I don’t intend to engage E this year, if it can be helped. She has a lot of good social skills type things going for her, she’s smart and outspoken sometimes. I’ll just let that be fine, and won’t press her on things, and hopefully will not insult her. I don’t feel our conflict got us anywhere, and I’m not keen on a replay. Maybe she’ll fight with someone else.

R. does look depressed, with a wide-eyed sleepless look about him. He doesn’t say what is wrong, and nobody asks. I still enjoy what he has to say – we basically agree on a lot of things, so that is OK.

Ron makes a little speech about how the best thing we can do for each other is keep telling the truth as we see it, and some of us talk a bit about what it is good to talk about in group. R says it’s both your reactions as you have them, and then also deeper things that get stirred up.

I go home feeling pretty good, excited about the fresh start for the group and happy to see everyone. I don’t see R on my way out so don’t have to worry about the ride situation. I am more wound up than I realized though. I keep replaying the group in my mind, and can’t sleep.

The group made me kind of tense. I think my social manner is a bit of a front, though it’s not entirely fake either. I use it to navigate socially basically, and it works pretty well. The tension is between that, and my reasons for being in therapy in the first place, which are a kind of severe pain and despair. I don’t feel I can connect very well with people through severe pain and despair, so then I try the social manner, and it leaves me tense.

It’s impossible to navigate tricky relationships while also dealing with bad pain – it just doesn’t work. However I’m in therapy for my pain. So it’s a dilemma.

  1. Harriet said:

    That sounds so difficult, I’ve never been in a group like that. I would also find it hard to “share” my t, so I admire your ability to do that. My regular/old t (J) would tell me that the surface and the “real” parts of me are all still me. I would always argue with him about that, I think the surface part is fake, but he says it is not. I still don’t know about that. It annoys me when people think the way I am on the outside is really me, but how can I blame them? That is what they see. I guess in a group you just say whatever is on your mind about people – that would be very hard for me to say and to hear I think. I think it is good that is the same people though, that is one less “getting to know you” step that you have to go through.

    • Ellen said:

      It is difficult to share Ron actually, though I have become more used to that I think. But if conflict happens, I will be more apt to feel he is letting me down, because he also supports the other person.

      As to the surface part – it’s a tricky issue isn’t it. In a way, we do need a surface part to deal with daily life and with people who are not that important to us. My take on it is that it’s a problem when I lose track of what is a surface part, and use it all the time, even when I’m trying to be real and intimate.

      It’s tricky too about what to say – you never do just blurt out everything that’s on your mind, whatever the T may say. You select. But still, we are more forthright than we would be in another situation. Oh yeah, it’s difficult. And I was relieved I didn’t have to start getting to know anyone new.

      Thanks for the comments!

  2. Ruth said:

    I am glad for you that you felt mostly good about being back in group. I just finished a book about PTSD and the author pointed out that groups give people a chance to see other perspectives. I had many discussions with my counselors that how I act around others sometimes feels like I am putting on a fake front. Both encouraged me to make what I show others and how I feel closer together. I was also reminded that not sharing everything doesn’t mean I am fake. I am starting to be more what I believe myself to be around people. I am feeling more comfortable with myself which in an interesting way reduces my anxiety. Go you.

    • Ellen said:

      My theory is that parts develop in part to enable us to show a particular front to the world….so it makes the whole fake / real dilemma more pressing. I know I have this manner that kicks in, where I feel competent socially but don’t feel much and don’t reveal much. People generally like me when I’m this way….so it’s tempting to pull that out.

      Great that you have found ways to be more real and more comfortable with people. I hope that happens for me also.

      Thanks Ruth.

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