When I arrived in group therapy this morning, only one other member (out of 6) was present. A couple of individuals turned up half an hour late, another two had already phoned in with yet another apology. In my opinion, absentees can make the group feel incomplete.
Taking my seat, the other group member – let’s call him Norris – was doing what he always seems so keen to do, talking! He’s insistent about only using prescribed Valium (Diazepam), but it’s obvious there’s a bit of doubling-up going on.
I developed a raging addiction to Valium about 16 years ago. Not only does it dull the emotional pain, it can also reduce awareness of social boundaries. A user might feel perfectly alert and together, but they’re really off their face and it shows. The drugs wonderful ability to lower inhibitions can result in confidently spouting considerable verbal diarrhoea.
To date, I’ve not really been too forthcoming in group. This is part insecurities and part to do with my problems with detachment. It’s been a challenge to connect with the past and face the stagnant trauma.
I wanted to share my recent discovery of the term ‘compartmentalizing’ and how it has been a major feature in my life. I had an excellent discussion with my Therapist on Wednesday and was trying to express both my understanding and my uncertainties.
I’m not quite sure how far I got before the two latecomers came through the door. I politely stopped talking, giving way to Norris’ eagerness to return to his own discussion.
Eventually attention turned to one of the latecomers. She touched on a raw nerve and quickly went into melt down. When we’re in floods of tears, most of us stop talking, but this would be a big mistake. Norris needed to share what triggers were going on in his own life. Was I the only one who was becoming a little P’d off?
The second latecomer shared an experience that was actually quite shocking. By this stage, I was so distracted by my own agitation that the magnitude of her experience is only just dawning. No sooner than she uttered the final letter of the last word, but Norris was droning on once again.
It was now 10 minutes before group ended, but I couldn’t be there a moment longer. Instead, I sat in the toilet cubicle trying to compose myself. Norris is a very sensitive man and there is a way to approach his eagerness to talk. I have no problem with that, but I did question why it seemed to be bugging me so much.
At first I was only focussed on the agitation. However, sometimes the stuff that raises issues within the group are similar to the problems we encounter out there, in the big bad world.
Norris might not remind me of anyone in particular, but this infuriating trait is one of the fundamental causes of my Mother’s selfish, demanding and very damaging nature. This has caused ripples through the family since the beginning of time; like walking on eggshells.
If we were sick, injured or having a bad time at school, it always came back to the hard times Mum was going through. When my sister recently divorced, conversations with Mum were dominated by how it was making her feel. Those tireless words, “What a terrible time I’m having”, still haunt and suffocate me to this day.
And this is exactly how today and previous weeks have made me feel – Suffocated.