Group – sounding

I guess I was depressed. I went to group tonight and it was truly awful. I fought with Ron. He didn’t tell me to shut up but it felt like it in the end. I know I got to him and I wish I hadn’t.

Ron has been very very keen on the idea of our group doing some meditation plus making sounds, and then discussing it. Last time we discussed whether to do it or not, and the consensus was not. This time, he just launched into the exercise. Which I hated.

I guess I was still smarting about the fact that Ron hadn’t returned my email about my son on the weekend. Plus the missed session due to his failure to communicate with me. Really, if you’re going to work on a major holiday, you might mention that to your clients.

I got to group a few minutes early, as is my habit, as I like to chat with one of the groupies who is always early, Z. However, now that M is back, M comes early also, so Z is entirely taken up with talking to her. M is very ‘bubbly’ and outgoing. So I got there, and no one talked to me, and I felt bad. I missed Z – it’s my only chance to talk to her outside of group. And I’m not interested in bubbliness, so I didn’t make a lot of effort to join in.

Then Ron arrived. M had just had a session with him. They give each other this little special smile and don’t say anything. I feel again jealous and left out.

I’m not saying I’m proud of this. Just how it was.

Then we do this sounding exercise. I don’t really participate and it only lasts a few minutes. No one makes much of a sound except for Ron.

In the discussion after, all I can think of is leaving. I get my purse on my shoulder, waiting for a good time to leave. Ron says I look ready to go and can I talk about it.

So all the stuff I just wrote about comes pouring out of me. Also the email, the situation with my son and my ex. Z is hugely apologetic that she didn’t talk to me. I can’t really take her explanation in. It’s like being in the grip of a huge emotion – I can’t deal with other people’s input too much.

Then A says something about how I’m not connecting, and Ron echoes his comment. I say at least I’m feeling and describing things. I accuse A of always offering analysis, never being the ‘fish on the hook’ struggling with his own issues.

I say some disparaging things about mindfulness – how it’s supposed to be this great solution to everything, but I think it’s actually not. It’s a difficult thing, not just, hey, pay attention to your breath and everything will be fine.

Ron accuses me of tilting at windmills, and what do I really want to say here and now.

Whatever. I tell him he always backs up A no matter what. I tell him he seemed like a really fake person, leading the breathing.

Ron tries to offer insight, how I’m fending off connections or some such. I say I don’t want to do this now. I truly cannot take in insights when I’m in the grip of huge emotions. It would have been nice if Ron could have acknowledged hearing anything I’d said at least, but he doesn’t do that. He seems put out, and shifts the conversation away from me back to other people’s reactions to the sounding.

Now thinking about it a few hours later, I think one thing that bugs me is that Ron seems to have given up on the group as a psychodynamic group and is wanting to turn it into something else. I was interested in the group we had. Yes, there is a problem with some people really not participating much. Still, I was learning things and making progress.

Also Ron is so attached to the sounding idea. I know this is an interest he has personally. He has a nice voice, he sings and apparently he’s done the sounding stuff before. I feel like he’s lost interest in the regular group and wants to turn it into something else. I liked how he used to be so sure the group was going to work and was helpful to people. He seems to have lost that.

After the group, I pick up the kleenex box on the floor, because it’s right in front of me. I am going to put it down on a chair so it’s easier for Ron to pick up, but see he is right there, so hand it to him and say bye. The energy between us is truly awful. He doesn’t say anything, but it’s like being hit with a wall of confusion and bad feelings.

After the group, I say goodbye to R but we don’t talk. He’d told me in the group he thought he’d offered me a lot of empathy and compassion, and why did i say that I didn’t feel I trusted the group. I felt too low to talk to him after.

At home I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach. I consider quitting therapy. I consider suicide, though not very seriously. I feel like I’ve put my trust in someone who is not trustworthy. It’s a really bad feeling, and it has me up blogging at four in the morning.

  1. ((Ellen))
    Group does sound very painful. I think huge emotions are so overwhelming it is hard to think straight and it takes me a long time to process how I felt and what I wasn’t hearing when I was feeling so much, kind of like being trapped in another time zone. I hope you are able to discuss it with Ron today and feel more understood.

    • Ellen said:

      Exactly. It is like being trapped in another time zone. 🙂 I suspect today’s session will be the silent kind actually. Ron won’t be sympathetic, and I won’t be able to explain. Maybe I should skip it as I still feel sick from the group. Thanks for understanding.

  2. Gel said:

    Sending you hugs and hopes that this icky experience turns to something good eventually.

    I’m sure I don’t know much about your group process and your chosen form of therapy. It sounds like there is a mixture of something good to it and something really lacking in terms of functional skill building. That is not your fault. Frankly it sounds retraumatizing to me.

    I’m proud of you for speaking up and really saying what is going on for you in the group. It sounds contradictory and crazy making that at other times you are told you aren’t sharing enough or expressing your feelings enough, but then when you do you are not really heard and appreciated for doing it. As much as I’m sure your T. has skills and good intentions, to me he seems to lack some important skills in facilitating of groups. Just my opinion from a tiny perspective.

    The reason I’m sharing this perspective is that I hope you don’t take on the lacks in other people in the group and the T. for yourself. You are doing great and working really hard and aren’t getting the support and recognition for that.

    I wish I could give you a real hug.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Gel. I know Ron is very sincere, that’s one plus for him. I think he has blind spots though. He doesn’t see the group as ‘skill building’ at all I don’t think. It’s more to have experiences that help you relate to other people in better ways.

      I also feel that sharing honest painful feelings is not rewarded much. Therefore most people in the group very wisely don’t do much of that!

      Very hard to determine what’s my own pain / dysfunction and what’s the group / T problem. Thanks for your support!

  3. laura said:

    hope you’ve gotten some sleep. this happened to me in group last time, also. I wasn’t connecting with what was happening in group, and then someone asked me what was going on, and it just poured out of me. It was right at the end of group, so no one really had a chance to respond, unlike in your Group. I’ve been so stressed about what I need to do recently, that it seems as if I can’t take much input from other people, either, I just block them out, and leave. I think of it as getting a “buffer full” error. what was the huge emotion in your case? for me, I think it’s feeling overwhelmed (is that a feeling?) and my instinct is to get away from people. I’m wondering about that, now. Maybe I’m feeling overwhelmed with what I have to do, and the emotions, and I can’t handle “managing” my relationships on top of that. Can’t handle having to please (or avoid offending) others, can’t say no. Did you feel criticized? What feels good on the input side, from others in that situation? Is there anything?

    • Ellen said:

      Getting a ‘buffer full error’ – that’s what it feels like for me also. I feel that I’m doing all I can do to share what is happening for me, but can’t at the moment take in any feedback. I feel the same way, not being able to manage relationships at that point. I guess I did feel criticized. The feedback from Z was nice, though I couldn’t respond to it at the time. She said she’s always happy to see me and didn’t at all mean to leave me out of things. I really believe her, and as I like her also, it’s nice to hear that. Thanks for sharing your experience – interesting we had similar ones.

  4. Hi Ellen. Have been reading but not commenting much of late. Here, it struck me that you are now upset with Ron for changing the group from the very things you supposedly didn’t like about group. Now you say you liked that he “believed” in how it used to operate and you miss what you were getting out of it.

    But as I recall, at the time you had nothing but negative things to report about the “old” ways for the most part. Seems like a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of situation.

    I’m in a low mood myself today, hope that’s not coming through in my writing at this moment.

    Our moods are so potent and affect so much of what we see. When I am low, everything is dark and gray and has a nasty feel to it. I think how you are viewing Ron and the group and people are mostly reflections of how you are feeling inside yourself. There is a disconnect, because you read into so much that you see in people and how they behave.

    You read into things from a kind of dark, negative place and it makes everyone seem dark and negative in return.

    This seems to be coming from within you, and you need to see where and how and why you are holding onto it all. These things, in my opinion, stem from a horrific childhood where you were deprived and taught (through the family dynamic) that you were frozen out and worthless.

    You internalized those things and now you can’t quite seem to shake them. You’re essentially living in the past, in a time that no longer exists. It’s as if you’re sitting in an old prison cell, in a prison that used to function and have guards and other prisoners, but now is just abandoned and decrepit. You still believe the prison in holding you in, but in reality there is nobody left to hold you there and the door is wide open to leave.

    Do you want to leave your prison? I feel you only need to decide to do so. It is not simple or easy, because you’ve been through terrible things and you’ve continued to relive those wounds daily and hurt yourself through believing that the world hates you.

    The world does not hate you, Ellen. The world, in my opinion, is waiting to welcome you with open arms. But you just need to take those steps and realize that you can shed the past like an old snake skin in a moment. let it go.

    Meant sincerely and with deep affection. Best to you, Ellen.

    • Ellen said:

      Ya didn’t like it to start with, now it’s changing, and still you complain? lol. You’re right. I suppose.

      I’m glad to hear from you again Aaron and I’m taking your words on board as always. You could be totally right with this. I know I went to group depressed, in a mood where usually I guess I’d stay away from others, because I’d know it would all go very wrong.

      It’s not that easy to change deep seated feelings, as you say. The fact that I go for therapy in spite of the difficulties speaks to the fact that I do wish to change I think. Group therapy does stir up old family issues. Can I just say in my defense that it is very hard to sit in the middle of these feelings actually happening and try to deal? In a very time limited way also – 90 minutes and it’s all over until next week.

      I’m sorry you are feeling down and hope for an upswing for you! Thanks for the caring comment.

      • laura said:

        I think we’ve been able to avoid “sitting with those feelings” since we were captives of our FOOs… and you STAYED PUT, you didn’t run! Just being able to tolerate the confusion and unpleasantness might be the first step, once we do that, we might be able to start making sense of it.

        • Ellen said:

          Yes, that makes sense, thx.

      • Thanks, Ellen. See, my words DID in fact come from a place where I am currently feeling somewhat dark and perhaps even a tad depressed. I think where I have grown a little bit over time is in knowing how much of it comes from me, and understanding that in many ways I have chosen to be in this place. Much of that comes from a path I took within the last few weeks that I knew was unhealthy for me, but I did it anyway. Everything from my sleep, to my food choices, to my general mindset and lack of awareness of my breathing has brought me here.

        It’s a little easier for me to see how I constructed this prison because I have worked my way out of other prisons in the past and now I find myself back…it’s a different feeling. I know some of what I need to do to walk out of the cell again.

        And yes, your situation is FAR more complicated than mine. But there are still some basic similarities. One similarity is coming to grips with the fact that the past is gone and each moment I have a choice to begin anew and make new choices. Each moment I have to earn what I feel I want and deserve out of life. It’s my choice and it’s the same for everyone, I believe.

        This basic responsibility is the foundation of a healing journey, I think. Personal responsibility for how I respond to this moment RIGHT NOW. If I am depressed or anxious, fine. But how do I respond to it right now? Not ten seconds ago or last night. That is always the beginning and for me it has been a liberating understanding.

        Take care of yourself Ellen.

        • Ellen said:

          It’s a good philosophy. Good luck with getting out of the ‘prison’ the second time…or third? Thank you.

  5. No easy do this and this and this type of answer. I know how frustrated I felt when I could not seem to get my counselor to understand what was going on with me. One time I brought him flowers for his wife. I felt sorry for her being married to him. He was stunned….he finally said, “You mean these are hate flowers?” Yea in the moment I was hating him and I needed a way to say it. Interestingly it became a break through. A way to finally say what was bugging me so much. It is frustrating to be told you are not exploring the depths of your emotions and when you do they pass over it and ignore what is there. Hugs Ellen. I am hoping you find a way to talk to Ron and he responds in a way helpful to you. Oh by the way, my counselor reassured me several times during the 7 years of talking to him that sometimes he was going to fail me. Not because he wanted to but because he is human. Humans are just a difficult bunch sometimes. Feeling let down is a real and valid emotion. I also suspect that you felt let down by your parents and other important people in your life so it has the echo of AGAIN which when it happened to me seemed to make it that much worse. I am thinking about you. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have lunch after your session and we could just crab about how annoying therapist are? Take care and know that what you are feeling is real and worth exploring for you.

    • Ellen said:

      That is interesting – the flower breakthrough. Hmm….It’s a tangled mess with past and present both. Nice if we could do lunch. Thanks for the encouragement Ruth.

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