Friday I learned more about groups. Because I was asking how is this helping me? And, thinking of my altercation with A, if I take away what it’s all about, take away what he says and what I think about it, what’s left? I can sit with my feelings and that’s about it.
Well, here’s the deal according to Ron. Everyone is affecting each other all the time. Yet, ninety percent of what we feel about other people is really about us. So the value of group is that when we get into a particular situation with a group member, we get to consider how this makes us feel. When we consider that for a long time, moving away from the content or story about it, we can see connections, and we change. Then, the next time in our life we are in a similar situation, we are free to respond in a different way.
The other part was that we really do not have control over how other people perceive us. For instance, Ron pointed out, different people in the group may experience something I say in completely different ways. I cannot control their reactions. We can control a bit of it, maybe ten percent, over time, he thinks.
The ninety percent part was about specifically how A is feeling about me, is ninety percent him. I was relieved that Ron thinks this. In fact, I liked the whole concept. Because several times people have responded to me in ways that were hurtful, but if I consider a lot of it is about them, it makes me feel better.
We talked about how I often have felt attacked in the group. Which is true. And the part I add, is I then lose trust that Ron is on my side. I imagine that he sees me the way the person I’m having an issue with sees me. For me, that is the horror of conflict. If it was just with one person, and I felt my relation to Ron remained intact, I feel I could deal much better.
Ron said a problem with this group is that people have pulled back when they’ve met with criticism in the group, instead of staying with it to learn what we can. He said he felt he’d had to carry the group, because people weren’t interested enough in learning what other people thought and then ‘chewing on it’.
I feel that I’ve actually handled this latest problem with A better than usual. I did argue with him a bit, because I didn’t remember events happening the way he said they did, and I was trying to figure it out. But when Ron advised that doing this wasn’t going to help, I did stop and just sat with the confusion of it.
Plus, maybe a quarter of my mind started to believe that Ron saw me the way A does, and thought it was my fault, and liked A and not me. But over half of me no longer believed that. It helped that A was kind of over the top – I didn’t for one moment believe I had wrecked his experience of group all on my own. Especially since as far as I can remember, we just haven’t interacted much.
So, at this late date, I see more of what Ron is looking for the group to do. He said a little more about it, but I have of course forgotten. He felt that in the last months, the suppression and pulling back in the group has become worse, not better. Both E and I talked about how we’d made the decision to pull back….while the rest of the group sat silently, lol. Ron pointed out how our decision was problematic, and I pointed out how E and I were talking about it, but the rest of the group was acting it out.
I no longer feel angry with A. He is obviously very angry with me, but I don’t feel that about him anymore. I was glad he told me how he felt, and I said that at the end of group. I’m not obsessing on things I want to say to him….I’m glad I didn’t apologize when he said I should. Why. But I did listen carefully to what he had to say and didn’t escalate.
Here’s a bit of the session after discussing the A situation, moving on the how upset I’d been last weekend.
E. I don’t understand why I got so upset about group ending. I mean, I quit like three times. I was really struggling with the group. At one point, I even said how alone and disconnected I felt sitting in the group.
E. I was wondering if it triggered other losses. Like when we moved when I was a child. I was seven, and we moved to a different country, and I lost all my friends, everyone I knew, my language, my culture. I don’t understand how my parents could not have discussed this with me, ever. It was as if the past had never happened. How can you not know that a kid might be worried about a new school, new language, missing a different country?
R. I think your mother especially, and your father in a different way, were very fragile people. All their resources had to go to themselves…and there was very little left over for you.
I mull this over.
E. So do you think that’s what made me so depressed? It reminds me?
R. I think you overtly struggled with the group, and felt you didn’t know the other people there really, that they were like strangers. But I think that underneath, something else was happening, you were growing attached to people. It’s a good thing.
I hadn’t thought of it like this. My struggle with the group was pretty open, especially with Ron.
We sit for a while. It feels peaceful there in Ron’s office.
E. What do I do next?
R. What do you mean?
E. Well, I’m not here by accident, sitting on your couch. I’m supposed to be healing all kinds of stuff I suppose. Just I don’t know how to do it.
to be continued.
Art: Carousel II by Gosia