Thursday, March 10, 2016

Don't Give Up.-when group therapy becomes painful

So there's a women's group that I go to at the local women's shelter.  Before when I left, I would feel peace.  Now when I leave I feel disturbed and tense.

This is actually a good thing.

When I first went I was very self centered, as is what naturally happens when you are in crisis.  You enter survival mode.  You come into this place where people are willing to listen to and validate your feelings and you feel like you are in heaven.  There is such a feeling of comfort and support, it is an excersize in contrasts.  But over time you begin to take more responsibility for your healing and you begin to see that after the adrenalin wears off, it can be a slow and arduous process.  Often you feel worse before you feel better.

Discussing subjects that are triggers in a safe environment, though tough work, is essential for healing. Now I leave asking myself: Okay, what triggered these negative emotions?  Which story, comment etc caused this emotional reaction?  When my answer comes I know what it is I have to work on.  I know which wounds need more care. Perhaps I just need a good cry to let go of the pain associated with that wound.  Maybe I need to call a friend or family member who's great at listening,  perhaps I need to journal?  Is this something I can deal with without professional help, or do I need to book a counsellor's appointment?  

There was a point where I was asking myself:  how is it serving me to go there if I leave feeling worse then when I came?     

I decided to keep trying.  I decided to lean into the sharp parts, as one of my friends put it.  It worked.
I have had many a cry after the groups, but then I usually do something nice for myself shortly afterwards.  I eat an amazing meal, do some yoga and/or take a long hot bath.  The group gives you permission to indulge yourself in healthy ways. In fact it's often in the homework assignment: "Do something good for yourself this week." The facilitator tells us as we put away the markers and pack up our hand outs.

I want to end this post with a wrap up statement...but it's not coming to me.  Perhaps when I am on
the other side of this process one will come to me, but for now I will leave this as a work in progress,
just like I am.