stumpTonight I just feel sad. I feel sad about the group I belonged to for two years. I was attached to it. I know I’ve talked here about all the trouble I’ve had with it. Still, in a way, the interactions I had there were some of the most real interactions I’ve had with anyone.

But the last two weeks were absolutely brutal. Two weeks ago, I was just shocked that three of five people would be angry with me at one time. All about different things, but they clumped together, since they liked it that way. Easier to express anger when you feel others are backing you up.

OK, I’m still mad. But mostly today I feel sad. I did care about the people there. The one person I do not care about at all is M, whom I had very little to do with. I can see with hindsight that she was an expert manipulator. She played that group like a violin. But because she was largely silent, it didn’t affect me much.

I’ve realized that I’d apologized to her two separate times, when she seemed upset at something I’d said. I never apologized to anyone else in the group, ever. She just seemed so innocently hurt, somehow.

I hate it that Ron always encouraged her and backed her up.

I hate wondering if Ron is a good therapist. I noticed that he was a little slow at noticing group dynamics. Things that M would pick up subconsciously and intuitively, and play on, Ron wouldn’t even notice. I’m not great at noticing group dynamics and social cues myself. But after thinking about them for a while, I start to see them. Ron focuses very much on everyone’s individual psychology, and he seems to miss the group psychology altogether. Which is common for men, but not good for a group therapist.

At the same time, I know Ron does a lot of really good and kind things. He cares a lot about his clients. About me too. He didn’t have to take an extra twenty minutes after the last group to talk to me until I calmed down, for instance.

I just need my therapist to be wonderful in every respect. It’s a childish need, a child’s need for a good parent. But children are OK with good enough parents also. I should be OK with a good enough therapist.

A friend wrote to me that she thought that with another few weeks, the group dynamic would have calmed down again. I kind of agree with her. I would have been on to M and not let her manipulate me. A and I kind of teetered back and forth between reconciling and fighting. E I would never have liked, but things would have settled down.

Ron said the group is not there for working things through. We were there to trigger each other’s issues, and then for people to work through their own issues. Then eventually, once people are clear on their own issues, they feel better about the other person. I don’t know. Does that actually ever work?

I appreciate being real, but at the same time, I long for a group that is able to care, where I could care about the people there and they could care about me.

I’m rambling. It was something that did not work out, though I desperately wanted it to. Sometimes I think it was my fault. I do believe I talked too much. However, it was such a silent group. If I hadn’t stirred things up, nothing would ever have happened.

I’m just sad tonight.

  1. I’m not sure it’s such a childish need. You are hiring a professional, someone educated in a particular field to a fairly high degree. You expect quality service. When I hire a plumber, I expect the toilet to actually work when he leaves. When I go to the doctor, I expect an accurate diagnosis and treatment or a referral. Most parents who send their children off to school, expect their teachers to provide quality instruction. Those are the expectations of our modern world. You aren’t seeing a psychic or a witch doctor here that may just be getting a vague “vibration.”

    As far as your question, I haven’t found what Ron claims will happen has ever happened to me. In most cases, if someone ceases to be a trigger to me, I just don’t care anymore. They don’t bother me, but I find them an unpleasant and annoying person to be around. And I don’t do things that involve them when I can avoid it.

    I know what you mean about wanting a group that cares. It seems the least people can do for each other when you are all there because you are suffering.

    Take care.

    • Ellen said:

      But do you expect the plumber to be perfect in all aspects? That’s what I mean by childish. If I truly determine that Ron doesn’t know what he’s doing as a therapist, then yes, I’d need to ‘fire’ him.

      Thanks for your take on my question. Interesting. I guess in group, that’s been my experience. I haven’t suddenly liked someone that previously triggered me, but I did find them less annoying than before, for a while.

      That is so true about caring. I wish it had been that way. Thanks Ashana

      • Having never had my own plumbing to hire a plumber for, this is all rather hypothetical. But, if I’m not satisfied with the service, or he creeps me out or even just annoys me, I wouldn’t hesitate to call a different one next time. My doctors, which is a rather less hypothetical situation, seem to be good at fixing me up, but in addition they are personable, pleasant, remember what’s in my chart, are prompt in getting back to me. They also listen to me and take me seriously and don’t cause me any unnecessary pain. I’m sure they aren’t perfect, but that is something people in their personal lives would know about.

        When you’re paying for a service, and high quality service is available, I really see no reason you shouldn’t get it unless you live out in Saskatoon and that is the only therapist around. And that does include someone with a good “bed side manner.”

        If you have to deal with someone day in and day out, you expect to see a lot more of someone’s negative qualities. But I can’t see why a therapist can’t keep it together for 50 minutes. it is, after all, a professional relationship, not a personal one, as intimate as it may feel.

        Just my take on therapists generally.

        • Ellen said:

          Yeah….The therapy relationship is kind of complex though, it’s not a straightforward situation at all. I don’t quite know if my problems with Ron are the kinds of problems I’d have with any close relationship and are caused by my past. Sometimes he’s really great and I feel close to him. other times he seems awful and hurtful. It’s very hard to evaluate from in the middle of the problem. If you keep your therapist at a professional distance, or that’s just how they work, then I can see you could evaluate like a doctor / lawyer etc. Are they pleasant, competent, and provide good service. Therapy is kind of a cross between a professional and personal relationship.

          I appreciate your sharing your view on this.

          • I really think the difference is your plumber never says it’s because of your past that you don’t like their service. You don’t blame yourself if your doctor doesn’t know how to diagnose or your treat you. I really don’t think it’s a personal relationship. When you stop paying them,they do not come over for coffee. They disappear out of your life. It’s a professional relationship.

            Just my thoughts, of course.

            • Ellen said:

              Lets agree to disagree then. I don’t think a personal relationship is limited to a friendship relationship, I think there are other kinds. I understand your point. The moment I stop paying, the relationship does end. But there are other aspects to this – it’s not a yes or no, black and white situation. Cheers

            • Yes, certainly.

              Really my point is that I think we sometimes hold lower standards for some kinds of services than others. What I’m really pushing is an attitude of entitlement.

              I taught for a few years in a middle class school. The parents were really entitled. They believed their children had the right to good teachers and engaging, relevant lessons. Their children have an excellent school. I taught for a few years in an impoverished districts. The parents in that district trust teachers implicitly. Their school is crap. We get the level of service we insist on sometimes.

              That’s really my only point. As abuse survivors, we often just take whatever we are given, thinking nothing better is available. When we push for more, sometimes we get it. Entitlement isn’t always a bad thing.

              I’m not saying Ron is or isn’t a good therapist. I’m not there and don’t know.

            • Ellen said:

              I agree with you on this. Ron is maybe my sixth or seventh T. I’ve left other ones without much thought after a few months. The worst was a psychiatrist. He was paid by our insurance, so to me was ‘free’. He was terrible, but I figured it was my fault, and anyway, I wasn’t paying so I couldn’t be choosy. I have met quite a few people who are getting terrible therapy, mostly from psychiatrists. Well, it’s all about the meds with them. I don’t think I’m having that particular issue with Ron, that I don’t think I’m entitled to good therapy, though I’m certainly having issues. Thanks for your opinions on this.


            • Just want you to have the best. 🙂

            • Ellen said:



  2. Group therapy is so tough :/ I think it’s good that you’re doing your best to use it for your recovery. Hang in there.

  3. Gel said:

    Hi Ellen,
    I’m glad you keep writing about your experiences with therapy. Even though it’s been really hard and now you are sad the group has ended, it seems healthy to talk about how you feel. Your courage and your continual writing have given me courage to keep working on my stuff. I hope you find a new way to connect with others that gives you some kind comforting connections with people….as well as being a place to work on your healing.

    Or maybe you could find a group that focuses on a project or a hobby that could give you people connections without a lot of trauma.

    • Ellen said:

      I do find writing helpful and am glad you get something from it also. Yes, I could do with some connections that are less fraught, that’s for sure. Thanks. Take care.

  4. weareonebyruth said:

    Hi Ellen,
    Hugs, grieving endings is always hard. You may want to consider that because the group was ending that the drama occurred. It became their last chance to blame someone else. The theory being that if you point your finger at someone else you won’t be blamed. I think you are accurate when you said some group member picked up intuitively what they needed to manipulate the group. Always kind of creepy when that happens. In my experience, I am learning that the healthier I become the less other people can upset me. Also healing myself changes the dynamics I have with other people. I used to get so mad when my husband would tell me to not let my mother get into my head. After a lot of years of counseling, I now know what he means. My mother did not change but my ability to interact with her without damage to me has changed significantly. She no longer gets in my head. I also noticed that as I am healthier, the drama from other people has a smaller effect on me. I learned that when I define myself as enough that someone else’s opinion that I am not good enough simply doesn’t matter. Depending on who it is I am getting fairly good at recognizing their words being more about them than it is about me. I am also learning healthier ways to interact with people when I disagree. Coping skills, social finesse and behavior are learned skills. Unhealthy parents can’t teach those skills and we need to learn them somewhere else. You are doing tough emotional work and learning how you function in parts. That is a lot of work to do. The group did trigger you. It is hard to work through how this all works. The hardest time I felt was when I was learning about parts and I felt crazier instead of better. I was angry with KavinCoach often. He kept promising I would feel better and I kept feeling worse. Finally, now I feel so much better. I feel whole and living is wonderful, not perfect but a lot better than when I started.

    • Ellen said:

      It sounds like you really healed a lot. I hope to get there also. I agree that the healthier we are, the less other people can upset us. I hope to have a better perspective on it all in the future. Thanks for telling me your story – it is a hopeful one for sure. Take care.

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