Thursday, June 26, 2008

The last group therapy session.

My group had 7 members join and 4 leave. We started with 5, 2 joined in the middle, one each year, and we ended the group tonight with 3. The group was never larger than 5, and it was only at that size for a few months. I think that is too small, it's too hard for me to step back from taking things personally in a small group, there's too much pressure to perform, the silences are too frequent and too big.

My group started in September of 2005 and continued until June of 2008. It ultimately broke up because of me, I could no longer afford it, and two group members was too few. However, four people left the group before I did, so I was not alone in my judgement that the costs outweighed the benefits. Of course, for me, it was actual costs in my case, cold hard cash, but other people also made the judgment that it wasn't worth some sacrifice. I was not alone.

This group was not as successful as I wanted it to be. I derived benefit from being there, but it came at a high cost, and in the end my decision to leave was just like everyone else's. I do think that if I had not thrown in the towel someone else would have at about the same time.

I had a wide range of relationships in the group from a deeply connected relatiosnhip with someone as significant to me as almost anyone I've ever known, to a more polite and measured association, something more than an acquaintance that exists in and because of the context, like a co-worker with whom one has worked closely for a long time.

Like I've said elsewhere, there was a group member who targeted me with a lot of anger and frustration. I was not happy with her either for a long period of time, but we sort of resolved that tonight, as much as we could at a parting of ways. If we were remaining in our relationship we would still have a lot to work out, a lot, but I think we would, eventually, but it would require some purpose, like a therapy group, in order to sustain the effort. There's a lot in her that frustrates me about myself. Also, I think our mothers are a lot alike and that just means we'd get into well-worn grooves with old pain, each of us stepping on the other's triggers, and it hurt. A lot. I'm glad that's over.

The other member still in the group was the one who joined last September. It takes a while to get to know someone in this context and we were on our way to doing that, but because we were still just on the way there wasn't a lot of deep feelings to process there. We are a lot alike in our exterior world, similar jobs and ages, and we recognized that and were both very careful to not just fall into roles as we discovered each other. I appreciated that about her.

The other member, the one there with me since the beginning, finally got something off her chest she had been holding for some time. "Stop with the first sentence" she said, voice trembling. She was telling me that I have a tendency to get wordy and explain things too much, and this detracts from genuine communication.

She's right.

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