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group therapy

Consider going to the church across the street this morning, decide against it at the last minute. First, I don’t like that no one speaks to me. Or almost no one. Second, I realize I am uncomfortable with the rigmarole and ritual around communion. It takes so long, and I just don’t want to stand there through it. I don’t get anything out of that. I do enjoy the sermons, and the music though. So, probably I should have forced myself to go. I’m like this shy horse, having to be very cautiously led to things that make me nervous, I suppose.

So I am home, and I will write about yesterday’s session. It was the first one in a while where there was no direct parts involvement.

I’ve been having really bad spells of anxiety at work, so I tell Ron about that. The problem is they’re so public. I don’t realize the anxiety is happening until later, and I keep talking, but very pressured and speeded up. Kind of like Sheldon on Big Bang Theory, when his friend persuades him to have coffee to stay awake, and he starts talking non-stop at top speed. It was funny when I saw it, but also so painful, because that’s kind of what I get like.

I have one fellow worker there, also a contractor, and we are mostly doing the same projects. He’s an older man, and while I generally like him, I’m finding him quite condescending sometimes. He does have more knowledge about the business than  I do, but on the other hand, I know about communications and he doesn’t. Anyway, he keeps implying I’m there to make ‘things look pretty’, or to keep him organized….So a couple of times, this has really rattled me. At one point I actually said something about it to him. He was very concerned, because he’s basically a nice guy, but nothing changed really. Anyway. Maybe that’s one reason I get the anxiety, I’m not sure.

I tell Ron I went for a massage for my RSI, which was OK. First I was kind of high from it – I suppose the gentle touch. Then I plunged into severe anxiety so I couldn’t sleep. Ron asked what was the trigger for that, and I said I didn’t know. There didn’t seem to be a trigger. This is just what happens to me from anything physical. The next day at work I was super anxious again, and that was kind of humiliating.

Later in the week I went to the gym, spending just fourteen minutes on the treadmill, and the same thing happened. At first I felt a lift in mood, then I plunged into anxiety and couldn’t sleep, and had these problems at work.

Ron doesn’t say much about any of this. It’s a problem I’ve told him about from the start of therapy, and it really hasn’t shifted. I feel quite despairing about it. It makes no sense to Ron, I think, so he just leaves it alone.

I had this meeting with my boss and my co-worker. I’d set it up right after one of my anxiety incidents, which are very public, because there are no proper cubicle walls, so everyone hears / sees everything. He accepted right away, which he usually never does – he usually waits until right before a meeting, then decides if he has time to attend.

So we both get to the meeting room, and he carefully asks me how things are going, as if to settle in for a long discussion. He hasn’t looked at the subject of the meeting. My co-worker doesn’t come, because I didn’t remind him. So I realize, this boss is thinking this is some kind of HR meeting I’ve called to discuss some issue I’m having. Aack. It was to discuss a project plan for a project we’re working on.

I feel so humiliated by this. Why? asks Ron. And really, when I think about it, maybe it is nice of this boss to be willing to discuss my issues. I suppose. I never would. I don’t want to have issues that are visible to everyone, I tell Ron. That’s why it’s humiliating.

The nice thing about this is this boss seems to quite like me, and doesn’t go along with the idea that my co-worker is worth more than I am. It’s a very male environment, so it’s easy for men to stick together, but he seems to be making a point of not doing that.

I’m feeling parts in  the background of all this, but I am interested in discussing my life and feel talkative, so I just keep going.

The last part of the session was about my family. I’d gone to a family birthday party at my sister’s apartment. She was there, along with my parents.

This was the part of the session where I felt more emotional. I described the dynamics that were happening – how my mother and sister were virtually silent, and how my father was the only person who would engage. How much I preferred my father to my mother and sister that evening. My father will bat the ball back and forth, conversationally speaking. He even accepted when I said something negative about my ex, and about my son. If I did that with my mother, she would immediately reject me by turning away and pretending I wasn’t there. My father is able to accept that yes, sometimes we feel anger and irritation with other people.

I describe how I tried once or twice to draw my mother and sister out, but then gave up when they gave only one word answers to my questions. I complimented my mother on a leaf necklace she was wearing, and she said thanks, so I asked where she got it, and she said from her sister. Nothing else. Trying to talk to her was like pulling teeth.

I didn’t want to just keep asking her question after question, I tell Ron. He suggests making the situation more explicit, by for instance, saying something like it seems like you don’t feel like talking….

I consider what doing this would feel like. Hmm…..It would be tough. My mother has always been like this.

We talk some more about my mother – about how she does try to connect, by asking about activities I do. But because she never adds anything to the conversation, it just feels forced and uncomfortable. And I feel judged, because I don’t do a lot of activities.

Ron says it seems like she isn’t able to care about other people’s inner lives, or share her own inner life with others.

Yeah, that’s true, I say.

Ron says something about how we have little control about what happens in our inner lives, but it’s natural to share them with others.

I tried less hard with my sister. I think I simply said at one point, so you were out when I tried to phone? (she doesn’t work, but sometimes teaches a course). She just looked at me and said ‘yes’ in this remote voice, so I left it at that. Maybe it was something private she was doing, could be, but all I was doing was inviting her to say something, and she wouldn’t. OK. I gave up. She never asked me anything about myself, didn’t volunteer anything about herself, so I just mainly talked with my father.

I did talk about a few books I’d read, because a big preoccupation in my family is supposed to be literature, so I thought they would say something back. Nope. Just my father said something about a famous author he liked. They just won’t talk.

I didn’t think it was my fault this time. In the past, I’ve accepted responsibility for their not talking to me – I just don’t know the right topics that they want to talk about, or some such. This time, I just felt annoyed, but didn’t take it as personally.

I relate all this to Ron. He says something about being true to myself around my family, not in order to change them, but in order to not accept the way they want me to be.

I tell him how angry I feel with my mother at the moment, and not my father. How difficult this family is. Now I’m discussing it with him, I do feel upset and emotional about it all.

I mention how in group, two years ago, when people mostly wouldn’t participate, how triggering I’d found that, because that is exactly what my family does – they withhold, and judge in silence. Surprisingly, Ron agreed, that yes, that was a difficult situation. I’ve never felt he agreed with me about my experience with his group, so it was nice to get that bit of validation.

Silent withholding – the backdrop to my childhood. Neglect is hard to pin down, Ron says. That’s maybe why you struggle to articulate what was wrong.

So, I go home. At first I feel OK, as I didn’t go into parts with their extreme emotions. After an hour, I feel so blank I need to go lie down, and spend some hours in bed. I get up, read the paper. There’s a story about a woman who miscarried and got depressed. It’s such a well written article, and it’s basically about grief. I start sobbing away, reading it.

So I spent the rest of the day quite bummed. A self-destructive part also surfaces, and that’s always hard. But, I get through. So here I am.

 

 

 

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I have been continuing with more activity and more social contacts. Good and bad. Bad first. I think it’s making me more depressed. The stress of getting it together to go to things, then keeping it together…..it’s tough. It seems to mean I don’t get to collapse and process therapy stuff, and it seems to mean I never have the few good days I did have in my previous ‘collapse on the weekend and feel and just f’ing survive’ mode. Now I feel depressed all week long as well. But.

The good is I am having some kind of a life. I am a lot less lonely. Not because I’ve found soulmates, actually, but the light social contact seems enough for me to feel more connected to life. It’s more interesting. I feel less pathetic, less like my life is only about survival. I can experiment with how different situations feel to me, how the dissociation is working, if I’m able to relax enough not to dissociate.

The two activities I’ve added so far are dance classes and church. Both of which have other spin-off type of activities.

Last night for instance I went off to an education session at the church I’ve been attending, on forgiveness. It was a small group of about ten people. It’s kind of in between a class discussion, support group and therapy group. I’m not at all sure which of these it is, so  find that difficult, not knowing how to respond often.

Interestingly, a lot of the issues I had with group therapy came up for me here also. Smack.

I had a lot of anxiety sitting in the group, and at one point had the strong urge to get up and leave. One of my parts, the teenage part, started screaming at me that ‘she wants to die’. That is a disturbing thing that happens, but it helped that I know this part pretty well now, and I realize there is nothing much I can do for her at the moment. Or maybe there is – I could have tried some kind of reassuring inner dialogue? It’s difficult, because things are going on obviously, in the outside world, so I’m paying attention to that. But this happened very very regularly in group also.

Then I also had a lot of urge to speak. I mostly tried to not say much. For one thing, I wasn’t sure what everyone believed and what the project here was, really. I’m mainly there for a spiritual life, after all, and to make some social connections, hopefully. I don’t want to scare people off.

At one point, I felt I had to interrupt someone. I have struggled with the tendency to interrupt people, in group also. I don’t know why I do that. I just feel a tremendous anxiety about what they’re saying, and end up feeling I won’t get a chance to address it, and I interrupt. Very bad.

Then there is also one woman, as in my group, whom I feel that I trigger. This woman is very articulate and is a divinity student with a long history with this congregation. And I’m basically an outsider. But for some reason, I seem to threaten her. Shades of E in my group. On very very little information, she seems to have a  problem with me. She is the type of person who has a lot of seething emotion, which she wants to express. Which is OK. Just somehow, we are clashing.

I’m hopeful though that unlike with E in the group, because I’m going to be cautious and friendly, it will not turn into an actual clash and make us all feel bad.

I have to admit I learned little about forgiveness. The topic turned more to inclusiveness, how the church is inclusive and how it is also failing. Which is OK.

I came home and had a complete anxiety attack. I suppose that groups are so stressful for me, I just flip into anxiety. This is so so similar to my reaction to group. And it’s all without and fancy therapy happening. It’s just the same thing entirely. The one thing I suppose group gave me was the ability to recognize my issues. Though I was not able to work through them, and I actually think if anything, the therapy made them worse and more entrenched. Sad to say. Maybe not more entrenched. But the way I was trying to work on them in group didn’t help.

This all seems kind of crazy. One solid thing I can think of is that I am very uneasy with the topic of forgiveness. I do not forgive what happened to me. I really don’t. I suspect a lot of people are papering over difficult feelings when they say they forgive – I don’t trust that.

No one talked much about this official topic. However, I’d have liked to express some of my feelings about it and see if there was any feedback.

Another thing I noticed – I tend to criticize. Not meanly, but I tend to feel that people aren’t making sense, and I want to clarify, and it comes across as criticism. I know my academic family tended to interact like that – criticizing each others points. Which I definitely don’t want to do, but I think I fall back on when I’m anxious. Instead, I’d like to just say what’s on my mind, express my own self. I don’t always have to fit it into what other people are saying. That just annoys them anyway. I can say what I want and need to, and give people space to comment or not. Hello, self, are you listening?

Today I am grateful for a long walk in the spring sun, where I actually felt better and more relaxed after it than before it. That doesn’t happen often. The sun, and the feeling better.

Best skip this if you find obsession painful. I’ve listened to others obsess and I remember how irritating it is.

I wish I’d written about this group stuff closer to my therapy session, because I felt more resolved about it at the time. Maybe it’s because I’ve been sick, so completely alone and in my place for three days now, or maybe it’s the cough stirring things up again, but again I’m back in that anxiety that group was ‘wrong’ and I have to do something.

If Ron wanted to ‘deepen the conversation’, couldn’t he have deepened it by talking with me about my feelings? After all, three out of five people there were angry with me, with the other two too reticent to say much. I had lots to talk about.

I do understand now why he talked to A, and I’m no longer taking it to mean that he agreed with her anger at me. I did take it that way at the time, which was very painful.

When E told me she didn’t have time for my ‘bullshit’, I could have hit back. I could have asked her if my feelings were bullshit to her, and how long she’d felt like that. It would have been nice if someone else had spoken up, but I could have. I was too flattened by all the other things that had happened there to me to do so at the time. I should have.

Instead I just subsided and let her talk. A large part of me agreed with her – I was obviously in the wrong, guilty, bad through and through. I felt like that already, so when she said it, I didn’t fight back.

When really, I knew then as well as now that this woman projected bad things onto me throughout our two years together in the group. She was completely unable to see me, she was so busy with her imaginings. She would be the last person to know if I truly was guilty of anything, since she saw the least twitch of my eyebrow as an attack on her.

It’s like I gave up on myself there. I knew this about E, but I subsided in guilt and silence.

Well, it’s well in the past and I need to let it go. However Ron is here in my present. As commenter Ruth pointed out. Yep. Is he trustworthy?

It seemed to me he badly let me down in the last two group sessions. I felt betrayed and abandoned by him. I felt he chose others and let me drown.

On the other hand, I understand what he is saying. First of all he remembers events differently than I do. But, he thinks we just end up going around in circles when we get into ‘he said, she said’ types of conversations. He said that maybe it would have been better if group had gone another way, and maybe not. The fact is it went the way it did.

Um yeah, and you were there to do something about that, no?

I guess talking about the process was good. Group has a certain process, where he tries to get at the roots of people’s feelings. But he didn’t. No one seemed to feel much different after venting their feelings IMO. A didn’t realize I wasn’t causing her bad feelings, that’s for sure.

Darn. I’m right back in all the anxiety of it. The fact is, Ron is very helpful at the moment, with parts, and even discussing the group, he makes sense at the time. It’s just, I still feel angry. As if I’ve been treated unjustly. Sad about it all. Maybe as if no one will ever like me or care about me.

Maybe a part of it also is that I didn’t respond to these things as I wanted to, due to being overwhelmed at the time. It’s like something unfinished.

I hope I can get back on an even keel with it again, and see Ron as just doing his job the best he could at the time. I know in my heart that’s what he was doing.

Ah well, goodnight. Today I am grateful I can stay out of the freezing cold when I am sick, warm at home, under duvet and blankets.

Kandinsky Circles PostI’m at home nursing a cold. I was feeling very sick Friday and Saturday, but now I’m much more lively. It’s unusual for me to kick off a cold so fast, and I’m wondering if the Paleo diet I’m on is benefiting my immune system. It could be.

I still went to my session Friday, as my cold didn’t really start until later in the day. I must have been very infectious, but luckily Ron and I don’t shake hands, so hopefully I did not pass that on.

Still too muzzy headed to describe the session in detail.

I was still angry and obsessed with the last two group sessions. I told Ron I had been angry with him that week. My thoughts were clearer than the previous week partly because of writing here and some of the comments I got.

One of the strong feelings I had was that Ron had not offered me any support when so many negative comments were coming at me.

R. What would my support have looked like?

E. You could have asked me how I felt, instead of just asking how A felt. You could have asked why I left early the previous time. Any comment to me whatsoever would have helped.

R. I felt I was supporting you by exploring what A felt. In group, we get triggered into our own feelings by other people, so what I try and do is explore that with them. What A felt was about her and wasn’t caused by you. At the start of the group, A led strongly with this, so I went into it with her.

Huh. I’d been thinking that when Ron talked to A about how she felt, all he was doing was reinforcing how awful a person I was for making the comment she objected to (I’d said I thought borderlines were explosive, yet she was so quiet). I like seeing it this way – that he’s exploring her own emotions that are not caused by me. Even though I’m sure she didn’t see it like that herself – she still felt just as badly about me after she expressed all that. To tell the truth, I can’t remember much about what she said at the time – it was like a tsunami of emotion, mainly.

Thinking about how I’d wished he’d have spoken to me that difficult evening, I ask Ron what makes him say something in group. He says he speaks if he thinks he can deepen the conversation. Which made me angry at the time. Because it’s a theory, and I don’t feel like he lived up to the theory. And because I want to know specifically about that evening, not what his theoretical opinion is. Because I think he just lost sympathy for me that evening. It happens. Ron doesn’t agree though.

Ron says that group becomes like our families, and that’s why it’s so difficult. He says he’s had clients say who each person in the group represents for them in their family – mother, brother, sister, etc. I can see the sense of this, though I didn’t explicitly see people there as my family members. But one person did remind me of my mother, and I’m sure my father issues came into play in my reactions to Ron, though he does not remind me of my father at all.

There was a way group was just very painful and difficult apart from what people talked about there.

I had a bunch of problems with group before anyone even said a word, I tell Ron. One, I was extremely scared to be there. The fear didn’t really ease over time, so every evening, I had this huge anxiety to deal with right from the start. Two, I lost trust that Ron was on my side, every single group, almost no matter what he did, so that was very difficult to deal with. And three, I didn’t have even as good a grip on parts as I do now, so I’d feel, if a part started to speak (internally), that I’d have to do something, while now I feel like it’s OK, I can let them speak internally and I can just sit there. Nothing external is necessarily causing that.

Towards the end of the session a very young part came out to speak with Ron, about toys and the apartment where we lived when I was a young child. It doesn’t make sense to me, but Ron said it’s all important.

My main surprise from this conversation was how I changed my view of Ron’s behaviour in the last group. I’d been so sure he was encouraging A’s feelings because he thought they were a valid response to my ‘awful’ comment. I can see now that to him, he was just doing therapy, exploring the strong emotion that came up. My whole feeling about that has shifted.

Ron never did support anyone in group by saying much to that person, so it’s not as if he was displaying unusual behaviour. And he is very focused on doing individual type therapy with everyone there. He doesn’t focus on group dynamics at all. To me, group dynamics are very interesting. I see them in action at work all the time, have suffered from them, and would like to learn more. However that wasn’t the focus of Ron’s group at all.

I think I could have been more on top of what Ron was trying to do during group, instead of figuring it out long after group ended. It’s amazingly difficult to formulate the questions somehow. I guess because I get so caught up in how it all feels.

Not sure how much sense I’m making. I’ll blame the fuzzy head cold.

Art: Kandinsky, Circles

Going to sneak in a quick post before cooking dinner.

Therapy took an odd turn this week, which is my ‘fault’ entirely. I was doing a tiny bit of yoga last Thursday, and all of a sudden, I felt furious. Anger anger anger. The anger continued into the evening and I couldn’t sleep. I found myself thinking back to my last group meeting, and how angry that had made me, and how abandoned I’d felt by Ron at that time.

I wrote Ron a furious email about this in the middle of the night, thinking it would at least let me get my feelings off my chest and let me sleep. It didn’t really help though.

I walk into my session the next day and Ron gives me what I call his wild eyed look. He looks kind of alarmed. So I don’t chit chat at all, but launch in right away, saying I sent him an angry email. I still feel furious – it’s like a dark force that has invaded my body. Ron asks why I think this has come up now, and I don’t really know.

I go into it all again – how he encouraged A to vent all her emotions onto me, even though it was the last session and there was no time to deal with it. How he didn’t ask me anything about how I felt, just stayed with how A felt. How he didn’t mention the group dynamics at all, where three out of five members were angry at me at the same time, and I felt were egging each other on. He didn’t have to say that, but anything Ron said would have carried so much weight, as he was the group leader, not to mention everyone’s therapist.

Ron asks me what I think he could have done. I say the point about commenting on the dynamics. Or he could have made any gesture at all to show me some care or support.

Ron asks if I could have mentioned the group dynamics. I agree I could have, but I was too upset by what was happening to be able to think at all clearly. As group leader, I think it was his role to do this.

Most of this doesn’t help me. Ron says the problem is I stay stuck in one view of this, I’m not adapting. I ask him if he ever adapts his views, himself. IMO he never does. But he says he often does change his view of things. I’m going to ask him next time for an example, because I haven’t noticed it.

I also bring up how upsetting it was when A suddenly came back to group, unannounced, after Christmas, in a severe crisis and just before she was going to check into the psych ward. That meeting was all about her crisis, naturally. I was completely unprepared for this, and it had nothing at all to do with what had been happening in the group that year to that point. And though we are supposed to be free to say our honest responses and feelings, no one admitted how very upsetting this session was for them. For my part, I’d be too afraid I’d make A’s crisis worse with any negativity at all. Since she has a history of suicide attempts and self-harm, the consequences of upsetting her seemed too severe for honesty to prevail.

Ron doesn’t say anything about this. I wonder if he’s changed his mind about the wisdom of bringing A back to the group, but he doesn’t say. He’d probably never admit something like that.

I’m trying to feel that Ron at least appreciates how I feel about being the target of so much anger at once. I ask him whether he’s ever been in a situation where the majority of a group was openly angry with him.

To my surprise, he says yes. He tells me about an experience he had in his own group therapy, though without details. That the group leader actually stood up and screamed at him, and then later apologized. That the group rallied around the group leader, probably as that seemed safe for them, and that it took two years to work out his issues with the group.

I ask if that time where the leader yelled had been the last group session, how would he have felt. He says that would have been difficult. However he doesn’t think the situation is the same as my situation.

In any case, I feel more hopeful hearing his story. I tell Ron I feel better, because the situation with group made me feel like such a loser. He says that’s a problem. I say yeah, I don’t have self-esteem. He says it’s more than that – I’m not an ally for myself. I can see that – when someone is angry with you, if you can internally not abandon yourself, you’ll do better. It’s just that this is very very hard to do. For me anyway. If people are angry with me, I feel at at fault.

Ron asks whether I think my feelings about group are coming from something else in my life. I say probably – that’s the point of group therapy. Ron nods. However I don’t get very far trying to find what this relates to. I mention my father’s birthday, and how maybe it’s about my family somehow.

That’s about all I can remember. With fifteen minutes left, I do a bit of parts. I can see Ron thinks I’m changing the subject. Maybe. But I don’t feel I can’t bear the loneliness if parts don’t get any time with Ron at all. They seem to be clamouring to speak.

Then for the last minute or so, we just sit. I’ve timed things carefully, as I don’t want to get ‘thrown out’.

For the rest of the day, I feel better, especially because of the story Ron told me of his own experience. Partly, I feel so at fault and bad about what happened in group and how people ‘didn’t like me’. When I see something similar happened to Ron also, and he feels OK about it, it cheers me up.

Then over the weekend, until now, I’m back to being mad. It’s a kind of huge anxiety. I feel completely unconnected to Ron. Kind of as if he’d died, but without my needing to grieve, since I know really he’s alive.

I spent some time journalling about what happened in group, and about each person’s motivations and issues as I understood them. I ended feeling I understood why they acted as they did, given who they were, and I could see it was mostly not about me.

But I’m left with little understanding of Ron’s actions or inaction. And unfortunately he is the most important person to me. Perhaps he just lost sympathy for me those last few sessions. I can see how that can happen. We have been getting along so well these last months, where I’ve been experiencing him as supportive and concerned, so it’s sad to plunge back into these feelings from the group.

teapotI had a troubling interaction with a friend on the weekend. It is still bothering me and I don’t think we’ll be friends anymore. I wrote Ron about it, trying to work it through, as Friday seemed a long ways away. That made things a bit worse, so now I’m mad at both this (ex) friend and at Ron. This will be a bit whiny, so please skip if you don’t like to read complaints about people.

I met this friend in my group. Probably it’s a bad idea to try and make friends from a therapy group. There were so many simmering tensions, and I think they come back to bite you.

We met at small cafe for tea. It was a charming but difficult location, because it was very loud, so we had to almost shout to hear each other. It was small and full of young people talking.

The last time I’d met her, I had ended up dissociated, and I figured out it’s because she reminds me a lot of my mother. This time, the resemblance was even more strong. Her favorite author was the same as my mother’s, she listens all the time to our public broadcaster, she thinks clothes are unimportant. Many details are the same. She is my mother’s age.

However, the main thing, the point for me, is that she is super shy, super sensitive, and she shies away from things. Because we’d met in therapy, so to speak, I felt it was OK to talk about it. Maybe I talked too much about my problems. Very likely I did. The more I talked, the more reserved she became. She would only talk about food or weather.

This is exactly what my mother would do. So, I brought it up. I did it in therapese, which was maybe not the best choice. I said she was reminding me quite a bit of my mother, and I mentioned some of the similarities. She was very offended, and ‘defended’ herself, saying she was not like my mother. I just listened – I know it’s my problem, if someone reminds me of my mom.

Then she said that she had lots going in internally, but she didn’t think I’d be interested, so she saved those things for when she was with other people.

Which really hurt my feelings. Why waste time meeting with me then, why not hang with the others? I didn’t say that. I just remarked that this was similar to my mother, who does not talk to me, but does talk to my sister. My friend had talked only about the tea and the decor in the cafe. It was kind of weird, and it is just what my family would do – try to shift the talk to food.

We let it go, and chatted a bit about other things before parting. There were no raised voices or nasty things said.

At home, I became more and more upset with this situation. I don’t do well with people who with hold – I get more and more desperate for a response. I remembered this woman in the group – how she with held most of her thoughts and opinions, how irritating I found that sometimes.

When we met for the first time after group, I was so relieved that she also had been angry with the people who attacked me, and that she had felt bad for me. Now I think – OK, how come she didn’t say anything? I know her struggle is an inability to speak up. But not this irritates me again. It would have made such a difference to me to know that not everyone was against me. Her silence was pretty deafening.

I know some of the turbulence of my feelings is due to being triggered. Still. Someone who tells me she doesn’t think I’d be interested in her thoughts so she saves them for others is not my friend. I suspect actually she’s judging me – some of the things I talked about I believe she finds quite strange, so she didn’t feel much similarity between us. We are a different generation for sure.

I wrote some of this out and sent it to Ron, as I was so upset I couldn’t sleep. I asked for a response, so he responded to an obvious thing. I’d stressed that what I emailed was confidential. So I poured my heart out, and he responded by saying everything I write is confidential.

Yesterday I wrote again, again very distressed and emotional. I didn’t ask for a response, given how he’d responded last time. So today, he replied to this saying that he hadn’t found something I’d lost last session.

It is so hurtful to pour your heart out and be ignored like that.

I don’t care for either of them at the moment.

Do you work things out with friends or do you end the relationship?

Art: Ria Hills – Tetley Tea Time

riverI’ve been feeling floaty and unreal and it’s disturbing me. I also feel kind of like I can’t communication with anyone. I’m reluctant to write but I find if I write it out I do sometimes feel better.

Nothing special today. I had some work to do. I was glad I could focus enough to work, but working made the floatiness worse. I had to add to a spreadsheet, documenting some document changes, and it was fiddly and uninteresting. After that I just wanted to sleep.

I went to the cafe and had my new favorite drink, a London Fog. This is earl grey tea made like a latte with steamed soy milk and a sweetener. Yum. The kid likes this also. I find being out with people helps the sense of unreality.

I went to therapy last Thursday evening, as I had to go in to work on Friday. I told Ron I needed to keep things kind of light, as I had to function at work the next day. He said OK. Later in the session, he pointed out how going into things more deeply destabilizes me, so I don’t want to do it, like on Thursday, but it’s the way I’d make progress.

I really have this fear that my issues will prevent me from working. Or that people will notice them. I hate to walk into work with flashbacks happening or in the aftermath of memories. Everything is so black for me at that point. I just do not want to jeopardize my livelihood if I can avoid it. It may not actually jeopardize it, but it feels like it could.

So we basically did stay away from deeper stuff, and I had quite a manageable day on Friday. However on the weekend I ended up half dissociated and unreal feeling, so that’s maybe the penalty for not going into feelings. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

I was actually a bit dissociated going into the session. Just because I’d been on a walk and walked for over an hour, which can put me into that state. I forgot though while I was in the office.

I apologized for sending emails after the last session – I’d felt bad, because he was on vacation. He said I could send him an email any time I felt like it. Which was nice of him.

Altogether, we seemed to get along very well. I have so missed seeing Ron as sympathetic and on my side. We talked about how I often perceive him as critical of me. Especially in the group, and more diffusely, in my individual sessions.

In the group, it’s very stark. I would see Ron as being on the other person’s side, as uninterested in me, and as very critical. He can’t have changed into a completely different kind of a person just by stepping into a group.

I said how that last groups session still bothers me. Ron said we should work on it some more then. I said how I’d felt he’d been unsupportive, and how I’d felt attacked and traumatized. He said I believed I felt those feelings, but that they were coming from within me, and weren’t there in the outer situation. Did I know what he meant? Yes, I said. Welcome to therapy.

We talked about my visit to my family. I explained a bit of what went on, and that nothing overtly bad seemed to be happening. Why then was I so depressed after wards?

I explained how my father is extremely achievement oriented, and how he sees my ordinary job as not worth a whole lot. How he looked down on my mother’s relatives for their ‘ordinary’ jobs. He doesn’t say anything about this, but it’s in the air I breathe, that I don’t measure up.

Ron said something about how it would be better if I could sit down with my father and tell him how he treated me as a child affected me and still affects me. And I said how I didn’t think it would help – my family never works through things. Ron agreed. Probably it would make them put me even more on the outside and judge me more.

I think we left it there. Ron talked quite a bit about what he saw going wrong with group. That he’d never had a group where people were so careful about every single thing they said. And that the more they did that, the more that snowballed. Then every little thing someone said became like an earthquake.

I mentioned that because I’d talked to two of the group members in the meantime, I’d discovered that they had had plenty of negative reactions to people there, just they kept them to themselves. I would never have known this except I talked to them outside of group. I’d thought during group, I was completely alone. Nope.

I like both these people, and am hoping we are going to be long lasting friends. But that isn’t how you do effective group therapy.

Ron said how it’s a much better group if people let their reactions happen and get through to the other side. It works better like that. And that he’d had to do more and more work to keep the group going, whereas if a group is working, he’d have to do less and less.

I thought the group’s withdrawal bothered me especially because this is just what my family does. They withhold what they really think while silently judging, and they think this is good behaviour. Maybe if I’d been from a family that acts out and is dramatic, I wouldn’t have felt so much anxiety with this particular group.

Ron shook his head in vigorous denial. Nope.

I feel somewhat better about group. I know I haven’t really followed my emotional reactions to any kind of source. But I don’t feel any longer that I talked too much, or that I was inappropriately negative to people. I was trying as best I could to do what we were asked to do there, give my honest reactions.

Ron said people gave up too soon also. We’d get into an interaction with someone and let that difficult interaction stop us, instead of keeping going with how we really felt.

It’s kind of the opposite of communication skills. I think it’s hard to do this if you’re a peace loving person. My natural inclination is to express how I feel, even if it is negative, then listen to how the other person feels, then feel really bad and guilty if their feeling is negative, then stop if I can see no way to agree. I know though sometimes I did keep raising something difficult. It was hard to do, because then the group responded so negatively. I guess according to Ron I would have been better off persisting despite it all.

I told Ron it’s hard for anyone to be attacked by three people at once, let alone someone who has issues like myself.

Anyway. It’s impossible to do group therapy by yourself in a group who are determined not to do it this way. Only E really interacted much, and she disliked me from the start, something that didn’t change much. It was difficult, but I can respect her for putting herself out there.

At least right now, I feel Ron is not critical of how I was in group. Which is a relief after these weeks of fearing he was. I’m still somewhat critical of him. I think he could have supported people more if they were doing what we were supposed to be doing, and others in the group were negative. Maybe he would feel that would be influencing too much, but I think it would have been helpful.

With five minutes left, I let the kid come out to talk to Ron. She wanted to know about the animals at the place Ron was on vacation, and he told her about the different horses there were there. I’d been fairly unemotional, but the kid was on the edge of tears. I suppose she was relieved Ron was back for the next few weeks, and happy to see him.

I felt well when I left the session. No sobbing on the stairwell this time. I could function the next day. What ended up bothering me was remembering how my family treated me, looking down on me. It’s so ingrained in me, that I am lesser, not good enough. It’s a painful legacy.