Reflections on “group”

Why do people say “group” and not “the group” or even “my group”? I don’t get that.

In an earlier post I mentioned that I’m going to group therapy. A few of you have asked me how it’s going, so I thought I’d post some initial observations.

This is a group of eight women. All of us with different experiences but all of us survivors of hideous cr@p in our childhoods. All perpetrated by men – fathers, brothers, grandfathers, teachers and strangers. Despite these differences, we are all screwed up in pretty much the same ways. We are all, to varying degrees, afraid of the dark, afraid of strangers, have trouble feeling safe at home, have trouble letting other people in, blah blah blah.

I am in awe of some of these women. The Creative One, who is a little mousey but who stood up to her grandfather until he could take no more. The Pregnant One, who brings the hope of new life to all of us, and who prosecuted her father for his deeds, despite the pain and family horror this unleashed. The Angry One, who frightens me with her rage (even if it’s not directed at me) and who is absolutely gorgeous, but struggles with relationships. And the Strong One, who isn’t any stronger than I am, after all.

It’s quite weird to sit in a room with other people, knowing why you’re all there, but not really saying anything. I mean, of course we say things, but we don’t get into details. It’s weird to sit there with people for whom the fears, the anxieties, the panics are “normal”.

One of the reasons my therapist suggested this is so I can see that there are people out there just like me: people who didn’t grow up in feral families where violence and abuse is as common as fast food for dinner. People who work, have relationships and lives, but who also try to deal with what happened. In this respect, the group has already achieved its aims for me.

This week we’ve agreed to talk about “Loss”. Loss of many things – like innocence, childhood, family, education … whatever we have lost because of what happened. I’m dreading it because this is a big one for me, has been for as long as I’ve been in therapy, I think. It is what David once aptly described as “The loss of what should have been, and will never come again.”

I am hoping that both the Wonder and Back Up Therapists are right and that the anticipation will be worse than the actual session. I’m not sure I could stand to fall apart in front of the others.

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6 thoughts on “Reflections on “group”

  1. It sounds amazing, just to be with people who understand. You don’t have to explain yourself, they just get it. That must feel very validating.

  2. Kerro –
    You are brave to do this. This is something I have dreamed about – a group with like people. I want to meet the successful (to the public) people who experienced some of the same abuses.

    Thanks so much for sharing this.

    OLJ

  3. I’m glad the group has already done some of that work around validation and acceptance. It’s amazing how people who have no other factors in common, will still often react to trauma in the same way, or experience similar symptoms. It makes it both incredibly normal, and scary at the same time.

    Loss is a biggie. But, even if you do break down, I’m sure there will be others there doing exactly the same thing. Tears can be as validating as a smile.

    Take care,
    CG

  4. Whatever happens, it will be OK. These women aren’t on your exact road, but they’re traversing the same barren and minefield-laden lands. And you know … even in this situation, you’re allowed to calibrate your level of risk. You don’t have to talk about the biggest and worst losses right away. You can start with a smaller one, and gauge the safety of the room before going to the most wounded places.

  5. @ Harriet – it is amazing. So many times in the first few sessions we’ve found ourselves nodding and saying, “OMG, me too!” It’s very validating.

    @ OLJ – You’re welcome, I’ll continue to post on this as I can. I am really glad my therapist suggested it. To know I am not alone, that there are other smart, “successful” people out there is incredible.

    @ Castorgirl – The “normalising” is strange but wonderful at the same time. The way we’ve all responded is remarkably similar, despite our differences. It makes me realise there is method in my therapist’s madness. Tear are cleansing and validating and all that, but also very shameful for me, due to more childhood nastiness. At least I won’t be the first to “break down” – one of the others lost it completely last week (and I could hear a collective sigh in the room, “phew, I’m not the first” LOL).

    @ David – you’re right, as always. That’s exactly how I should see it – start small, and if I feel safe, go further. There’s no pressure to discuss anything we don’t feel safe discussing in the group, so of course that’s what I should do! Thank you for pointing out the obvious (again). 😉

  6. Pingback: A shift « Kerro's Korner

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