Group – no deflecting

It has turned cold and breezy but very bright and sunny also. If I take a warm coat, I should be fine. So get out there! Soon, soon, I’ll go out, let me just stay inside a few more minutes!

A good discussion with Ron yesterday about group. He did say a lot of stuff which I basically tuned out, but still, some of it got through. And I got to explain how I saw it, and he was receptive. Plus, when I ask him what he thought of the previous night’s group-

R. I thought you worked hard in the group.

Music to my ears. I’d assumed he didn’t like me, as he was ‘on my case’ about how I was responding to people, but no, he thought I’d worked hard. Just hearing that phrase made me sigh with relief.

Well, I got this far and put this away for two days. Not sure what I want to do. Describe my therapy? Or part of the group? Or detail my continuing stomach woes? Or my emotional troubles? Lots of possibilities.

Here’s an except from my group.

I arrived a few minutes early, and walk by a woman sitting at a table outside our group room.

Z. Ellen! Hi!

E. Oh hey Z, didn’t recognize you.

And we chat a bit about where we live, small talk.

Then a little later, group has started.

E. So what happened last time?

E. had missed last group. No one spoke, so I spoke up, despite feeling my usual start of group fear.

Ellen. Not that much. It was OK I thought. Umm….

Now I can’t remember A’s name. Embarrassing.

Ellen. Oh, A, yes, A said he didn’t trust the group so didn’t want to speak. And….

Now I forget Z’s name. Sheesh.

Ellen. Who are you again? Oh yeah, Z, sorry.

Z. You forgot my name?

Ellen. Yeah, it happens to me sometimes when I’m scared. I blank out. I know who you are though. Let’s see, there’s um, E, D, Ron….OK, I know everyone.

Ron now asks me about the dissociation.

R. What’s it like to be so scared you blank out?

E. I just do that sometimes. I started doing it as a kid, and now I’ve got the habit I guess.

Z. I was really surprised when you didn’t recognize me outside the room.

E. Yeah? Um….I just thought you were someone I didn’t know, here for something else. Did you do something different to your hair?

Z. No.

And Ron is now on the trail of dissociation, and asks me if I felt the surroundings were different today in some way.

E. Not really. Oh, you mean….

I’m just realizing how much I’ve been dissociating, but I wouldn’t say I’d switched into a part entirely. My parts are not a secret in the group, but we don’t discuss outright what we mean.

R. So you are not afraid of the surroundings, but the people?

E. Yeah, I think it’s just the people.

Z. It’s very strange not to be recognized. I remember we got off to quite a rocky start, last year, when you were new to the group. You weren’t making eye contact. And I remember one time….I always come early, and M (former member) would come early also, so we were chatting. And you came in, and you said hi to M, and didn’t say anything to me.

Ellen. Didn’t I? That would be very rude of me, for sure.

Z. So I felt like you didn’t like me as much as M.

Ellen. Oh. I don’t remember doing that at all. I for sure wouldn’t have meant to do that. I know though that when I’m anxious, my social skills deteriorate quite a bit. Maybe it was that. And…well, M was more outgoing than you were. So it was easy to engage her in small talk.

Z. Oh.

Ron. Ellen, you’re busy making Z feel better. You deflect things, and reject, instead of allowing yourself to sit with them and go deeper with it.

Ellen. I do? But it’s true, I don’t even remember this incident Z is talking about. Anyway, I if I like anyone better, I like Z better than M….Well, maybe I do deflect. OK, let’s try it again and I won’t do that, Z can say the thing again.

Ron. No, I think you’re doing it again. Stay with me for a bit now….

Ron has more to say then on the importance of allowing people’s feedback to sink in, and reacting from a ‘deeper’ place, rather than explaining and deflecting.

I can see what he means, though I felt criticized at the time. I then have an interaction with E. that gets a little negative, and while we are both trying to explain what we meant, Ron intervenes again.

Ron. I think you are both busy trying to make each other feel better. Could you try not to deflect, but respond?

Sigh. But by the end of the group, I do that one time.

E. I feel COMPLETELY misunderstood and devalued.

E goes on for a while about how a comment I made upset here.

Ellen. OK, so I’m not going to explain myself, as per Ron. So how can I help you feel less misunderstood and devalued?

And E turns to me with this amazed look on her face and smiles.

E. Well, the fact that you even asked me that means a lot.

Things did go better after that. E has this idea that we have a deep seated hostility towards each other that’s still active, and I don’t actually feel that, so we discuss that. I really don’t feel the hostility. I do feel she is extremely volatile and I’m wanting to be careful around her, but that’s OK.

At the end of the group, E calls me by name and says goodbye, and I wish her a good week. So there is hope, as a fellow blogger so often tells us.

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2 comments
  1. Ruth said:

    You made some great strides. I am impressed by your choice to ask how could help E feel less misunderstood and devalued. That awareness of someone else’s needs is huge. As Ron said you worked hard in group. Well done.

    • Ellen said:

      Thank you Ruth. Blushing. 🙂

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