Group is more lively

A 63083I want to get at least some of my therapy / group down, otherwise it becomes lost except for a feeling impression.

Group was OK. My main issue was a fear of Ron. I’d sent him angry emails and threatened to quit therapy, and I figured he wasn’t too pleased with me. He seemed subdued and uninvolved in the group that evening, so that added fuel to my fears that this was some kind of response to me.

I remember that group was more interactive than usual. Everyone had something to say except for Z, but Z usually does contribute, so it seemed fine for her to be quiet. A talked about anxiety because he must find work and also must move again. No one really asked him more about that. Well, M offered him an actual job where she works, under her, and A seemed interested. I found this odd behaviour – isn’t therapy where we talk about our feelings, but don’t actually solve the problem concretely? If I’m short of money, I don’t go to group to get a loan. But anyhow, everyone seemed to think this was helpful, and I didn’t say anything. I felt unhappy and under a dark cloud so saw everything blackly.

Later in the evening I asked A if he felt dropped when the subject shifted from his concerns so fast, because I would have. He said not really, but he still felt anxious. A hadn’t said much for months though before this.

Then R talked about how his parents were moving but had not told him about it. Moving on to how his mother tended to lie about things to get him to do as she wished, especially when he was a child. So I asked him if that made him mistrustful towards other people, and he said yes. He used to hang out with people who were not trustworthy.

I was sitting there ripping up kleenex, as I often do when I’m anxious in group. E brought this up as it bothers her. I asked her why she hadn’t ever brought this up in the past, if it bothers her. She didn’t reply to that.

I tried to talk then about things that were bothering me, especially my fear in the group that Ron stops liking me. A said liking for what. I didn’t answer that – it was more of a muttered response. I really don’t think I can give up shredding kleenex, even if it is troublesome to E. I talked about how I didn’t express in words how I was feeling because I wanted to be a good group member and listen to other people, not be self-obsessed and going on about myself all the time. This kind of struck a chord and people brought up what being a good group member might mean.

M asked E why she’d been upset at the end of last group. I’d said my piece about how people weren’t participating and that it bothered me so much that I was considering leaving the group. No one really responded much to that. The conversation shifted to a concern E was having with M. I left the group at that point. I’d felt so unheard and unresponded to, I couldn’t stand it, so I left to get a break from that feeling. When I’d come back, Ron had interrupted E’s conversation with M to bring it back to why I’d left, and the group ended with a discussion about why people are not talking. At which point E started crying. So I’d asked her why, and she’d said she’d been triggered, and then the group ended.

Now in last night’s group, M asked E why she’d been upset. She said she’d felt dropped entirely, when she was discussing self-harm, which was very important to her, and the focus and switched to my problems. E and I went back and forth a bit about what had happened last group exactly. I said I could totally understand how she would feel dropped, as I’d often felt that way also. I said maybe if people were more emotional in the group, that would happen more often, and we’d all get used to it. R didn’t know what I meant by that. I guess he can’t conceive of needing desperately to talk – his preference when anxious is always to become quiet.

Now I actually remember something Ron said here. Most of what he says I can’t remember at all, but this I do. That he’d been in groups where many people needed to talk, they’d all ask for time one after the other, and that this was one way of handling it.

Now D, who has been mostly silent for a year and a half, announced that this would be her last group. She’s having some complications with her pregnancy so needs to drop out. Ron asked her how she felt about her group experience, and she talked about how she was unhappy with the fact that she rarely talked, but that she also tried to participate when she could.

Now group members started saying positive things about how they viewed D, times she had been supportive, their wishes to stay in touch. I was the only grouchy person. I said I felt frustrated that she rarely participated. She had a lot to say in response. She said I reminded her of her mother when I’d talked about leaving the group, how she was always trying to cheer up her mother as a child, as her mother was deeply depressed, and how nothing she said made a difference. D said she’d responded to me when I’d said I was thinking of leaving. I said I had no memory of that at all. You see, D said. You see. Nothing I do makes a difference.

OK. D said more things, and I just said she seemed angry. And that I still felt frustrated. We left it at that. Other group members had more nice things to say about D, and I stopped talking. Madam Grouch. Aggravating pregnant ladies.

I started feeling hopelessly depressed, more and more sad, so I just sat there. I think it was about Ron not liking me, and I didn’t know what to do about that, so I just sat there and didn’t participate further.

Ron said some things about the nature of caring in the group – how we demonstrate caring by giving our real reactions.

A said some things about how he’d like to be friends outside of group with each one of us. That he’d valued the time he’d spent with me, and he was sure he’d like to spend time with each groupie, because we all have issues and understand that he has them also.

Bullshit. I don’t say this, because I feel like things are thawing between us. My opinion is A is having fantasy relationships here – talk is cheap. He wouldn’t actually want to put in the time or effort to be friends with any of us. Well, that’s how I feel.

After group I left without saying goodbye to anyone. I got home and cried, then ended up in a depersonalized state – as if my body wasn’t real.

On the one hand the group was interesting and interactive. I liked hearing from almost everyone. On the other hand, feeling that Ron doesn’t like me is completely devastating.

But, on the other hand, I’m now having somewhat interesting interactions with E and with A that don’t feel like attacks. That is progress. I don’t mind going back.

Art: Lorraine Peltz

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8 comments
  1. laura said:

    hi Ellen!
    it’s clear how difficult and painful it can be just to interact with people on anything MORE than a superficial level. It’s a wonder that we try. How easy it is to be hurt (such as when the subject changes at just the wrong moment for you), when you’re constantly buffeted by your own emotional responses. I counted 3 responses that you swallowed rather than speak – probably the most difficult ones to share. We need the practice. Glad you shared the main difficulty of feeling the gap with Ron – that was courageous! I’m glad you’re hanging in there.
    It’s interesting to discover at this late date, a reason for D’s silence. I’m finding that the people who are typically silent in my group also have reasons that I might never have guessed!

    • Ellen said:

      It can be painful, but then never having an honest exchange with anyone is also painful. 😦

      Oh, I don’t think what D said to me was actually a reason she was being silent. She just resents my mentioning it and being frustrated by it. That was a side issue, or could have been an issue to discuss if she had been talking. Too late now though.

      Thanks!

      • laura said:

        It’s probably part of the process of therapy don’t you think, to discover the pleasures of
        authenticity, and to choose them over the safety of hiding… to learn to hear the small voice within, when previously all effort has gone toward listening to the outside and anticipating danger. That’s how it seems to me, anyways.
        I didn’t get that D was blaming you for her silence. It IS too bad that she didn’t explore this when she could have. when you compare her sense of helplessness, that her speaking doesn’t make any difference, perhaps her belief that speaking to others is only for the purpose of “helping” and yet, her experience is that it doesn’t change anyone… and then compare it to your sense that you HAVE to speak, well, it’s interesting.
        What’s your theory as to why she didn’t speak?
        When you discover that your beliefs are not the only beliefs, when you discover what you share, and how you differ from others (which is one thing that group is good for), you start to look at your beliefs differently, and wonder about them. Why do I believe this? Is it true?

        • Ellen said:

          That is a good way of putting the benefits. My theory about D? Just that she was very inhibited.

          Yeah, I think it’s true. Cheers

  2. weareonebyruth said:

    Maybe I am a cynic but I would be suspect of D saying it was because of you she was silent. Sometimes people have a need to blame someone else. Seeing a superficial connection and clung to that. You mentioned she has had a year and a half to accept and realize you are not her mother. Sad for her that she waited so long and lost the benefit of the group and being silent. I think it is significant that you gave yourself permission to step away from the group for a few minutes. Very awesome step that you came back before the end. I suspect a key to your healing is wrapped up in why this experience triggers crying and shifting to a depersonalized state. I hope you are feeling better today.

    • Ellen said:

      It is sad for D that she lost the opportunity to benefit more. Anyhow. I don’t think she was actually blaming me for her silence. I went back to re-read though, so I can see why it might come across that way. This was just an issue she had with me. I feel OK that I stuck to my guns and didn’t just say nice things to her because she was suddenly leaving. Might as well try to be honest.

      Thank you for thinking it’s awesome that I came back. Ron thinks it’s not so awesome I left though. I really wonder why this triggered the crying and depersonalization – I don’t know. Except that I am upset at the thought that Ron no longer cares about me. I am doing better again, thank you Ruth. Hugs to you.

    • Ellen said:

      Thank you ROS. I hope your pet is doing better. Hugs.

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