Anger and hurt

Up in the middle of the night blogging. I’ve had a heavy week at work where I needed to be in every day and then in pretty much all day meetings, and I’ve not been sleeping well. Lack of sleep compounds my usual issues, so I’ve been taking a pill whenever I wake up to try and calm down and get some rest. It’s been kind of working.

I get home from work pretty shut down most days. I feel exhausted from the stress of it.

So last night’s group, I was both keyed up and shut down from the stress of it all.

The topic was at first the group ending….and I once again went on about people not talking. I wish I could stop doing that. It feels like blaming other people for the group not working….

Both E and I spoke about how we’d withdrawn from the group in recent months, for different reasons. She because she felt she was ‘too much’ for the group, me because I found it too painful to try and work out issues with group members when no one else was doing so.

Then A started talking. Mostly about how much he dislikes me….He feels I have endlessly attacked him, and he feels I owe him an apology.

My instinct was to figure out what he was talking about. I thought we’d barely interacted, though yes, a few times we’d clashed. So I wanted to know when I’d attacked him. Then I told him about the times he’d hurt me.

Ron said this approach wasn’t useful, that I should stay with my feelings and see where they led. It wasn’t useful to go over he said she said….

A also said I ruined his experience of group. There was the rest of the group, which he felt was supportive, and there was me, the person who ruined it for him. You’d think we were interacting negatively every week….but really, we hadn’t. A few problems over many months was all I could remember.

A seemed very angry. He was able to stay with his anger and outrage….Well, he’s not a dissociater like me. I said I felt upset, but detached, which was true. I felt super alert, but not very emotional. Just upset, and not knowing what to do.

Ron said to stay with the feeling of upset and not knowing what to do. Other people said some things, especially E who associated our fight to her own with her husband, she of course identifying with A, and me being her husband. Difficult to take on board when I’m already struggling with difficult feelings.

So I stayed with the feeling of upset, and Ron moved the discussion back to the group ending.

After group, I felt OK about things. I was relieved to hear A’s real feelings I suppose. I didn’t retaliate and attack. I felt kind of soft.

But now at three am, I feel bad. Like I’ve been kicked around like a football. It’s sad to inspire so much hatred.

Then as usual, I now think Ron thinks bad things about me. He only worked with me on accepting A’s feelings – he had nothing to say to A about how he was handling it. On the one hand, he is trying to help me to change. On the other, why am I so at fault and A so perfect?

I also want Ron’s good opinion and I don’t feel I have it. He kind of winces when I say things half the time. I said goodbye to him, and the way he said goodbye it seemed like he didn’t like me.

I know this is my stuff. It’s hard. I want to hear people’s true feelings, and then it’s really hard to do so.

I know Ron would feel a lot more sympathy if I cried. I can’t cry. I’m all split into pieces and the crying doesn’t happen easily.

I find if I’m honest I feel a lot of difficult emotions about people in the group. And they don’t seem to have that problem. So it feels lonely to try and express and work things out….I’m alone out there.

Of course A did that tonight. It doesn’t seem that complicated for him. He just stayed angry and outraged the whole evening. He wanted an apology, I’m not apologizing, and that was it for him.

I feel like if I had Ron’s support it would be more bearable. I’m going to ask him how this helps me. I’m refraining from emailing him. I’ll see him tomorrow anyway.

  1. laura said:

    don’t you think A’s rage is mostly to do with HIS history and baggage?

    • Ellen said:

      Thank you. Yes I do, and no one in group said that. I do think that. And I am not going to apologize for trying to do group therapy the way it was explained to me. Yep, I’m still agitated.

      • laura said:

        Did you ever tell them about how your feelings went overboard over him in a positive direction – just as he seems to be going overboard in a negative direction? I wonder if that might change the subject, open up the conversation – so that maybe you can learn something, too. Step away from this transferential image he’s raging against. Wha
        t do you have to lose?

        • laura said:

          I wonder if enduring an attack like this comes from your history, too?

          • Ellen said:

            Those are thoughts worth considering, thanks.

  2. Gel said:

    Group does sound tough. I admire your willingness to go to group and keep trying. It’s clear you are putting a lot of effort into this. It sounds like a double bind…you’re encouraged to share your real feelings but when you do you don’t get support for it. That phrase “your damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t” springs to mind.

    If R. wants you to express your feelings can you ask for some help with how to do that in an acceptable (healthy) way?

    Even if you weren’t acknowledged for it, it seems like a big accomplishment that you didn’t retaliate and attack A.

    Maybe R. threatened to end the group as a way of getting people to open up?

    Best wishes to you Ellen.

    • Ellen said:

      I wonder if Ron thinks if he supports one person, he is harming the other. It’s not a simple situation. Yes, I can ask him questions, and I did do that. It’s hard for me to feel feelings right on the spot, especially when I’m already stressed from having survived work. I think Ron was trying to move me in a good direction without pushing and overwhelming me, as has happened in the past. And my feelings have remained manageable, so that is positive.

      I think that would be manipulation if Ron threatened, and he doesn’t manipulate. He explained more about the practical concerns he also has with continuing group….I think he really does believe it’s not working well.

      Thank you Gel

  3. sounds intense. anger makes me nervous, so not sure i would have handled it so gracefully. nothing you wrote indicates to me that you have lost R’s good feelings or respect towards you, or that he thinks A is perfect and you are the troublemaker. I’d even reality-check the wincing against what he really thinks when you see him later. i’m super sensitive to body language and half the time i call Sharon out on a “look” (you are looking judge-y, i say, or angry, or…..) she tells me what she’s actually thinking and i’m usually projecting like mad! 🙂 i still call her on it, though… ‘cos it’s what i see and i spin out emotionally when i feel judged by her. hope things go well today. and so amazingly glad you were able to stay with your feelings during group. that’s awesome!

    • Ellen said:

      Anger makes me nervous also. You’re right about R’s feelings, completely. I didn’t check out the wincing, but he really doesn’t think A is perfect and I am bad. That was totally clear in my session today. Good for you for checking out your feelings with Sharon. Thanks Catherine.

  4. I’m sorry A attacked you. It sounds to me like he is acting out his past anger and frustration with you. I think characterizing one thing or person as what ruined many years of group therapy for him is a huge exaggeration and I’m surprised that Ron didn’t say anything about that. My T is always talking about how people have conflicting feelings so if I made a blanket statement like “I don’t trust you” he would remind me that isn’t how I feel all the time and when I said “I feel like I can trust that you will listen to me whatever he said” (only said this once recently, LOL) he said sometimes you feel that way.

    I hope your session with Ron goes well today and you get something useful out of the discussion about group last night.

    • Ellen said:

      It is a huge exageration isn’t it. Ron thinks so also – he didn’t put it exactly like that, but that was the gist – A’s feelings are mostly coming from him. I like what you say about conflicting feelings – so true. Hard to remember in times of stress. Thank you.

  5. Ruth said:

    Amazing that you stayed with how you felt and didn’t leave the room. Other times when you described a similar feeling is when you left the group completely, that didn’t happen. Progress does seem slow. Hugs to you.

    • Ellen said:

      The leaving tends to happen when I feel uninvolved but panicky….in this case, my feelings were engaged so I didn’t have the impulse to leave it seems. I’ve never left because I didn’t like what someone said to me – it’s not about that. It’s complex. Thanks and hugs

  6. kp said:

    Hi Ellen…it sounds like a really tough session. I would feel beat up too. But it sounds to me like A was dumping on you too! Good for you for staying and staying present!! Kim

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