As I greet everyone with a smile and nod, I take the usual seat; where I can see everyone, including the door and windows.
The atmosphere seemed tense. I wondered if the other two were feeling just as paranoid.
There should be eight of us in group therapy, but only three turned up for check in, one of the usual latecomers waltz in half way through session.
The man who talks too much wasn’t there. The atmosphere was entirely different.
In my experience, group therapy can be a little more confrontational and challenging than with an individual Therapist.
Today, less people present, inevitably means more time on each individual. Beneath the relaxed persona, I was quietly going through internal panic over fears for confronting the past.
A common theme throughout today’s session was how early childhood experiences affect the rest of our lives and how we are able to forgive and move on.
For many years, I have grappled with this idea of forgiveness and moving on. There seems to be a fairly common belief that we can only move on once we forgive.
While I can understand why forgiving might be the right way for some, I’m not entirely convinced that it is the key to setting myself free from a painful past. That might change as therapy progresses, but this is how I feel right now.
As someone who was emotionally, physically and sexually abused from as far back as I remember, forgiveness feels like it is somehow excusing the abusers and their behaviour.
That might sound like I’m bitter and unforgiving, but I’m not. Forgiveness just doesn’t seem to come into the equation. My recovery isn’t about them. It might be about things they did or said, but it is more about the effect it had on my life.
Recovery for me means coming to terms with past trauma. It’s about accepting the chance to be set free from both the painful memories and the subsequent impact they had on my life. Somewhere during that journey, I have become tired of blaming other people.
The anger and resentment that accompanies blame can be soul destroying. However, if I need to forgive the abusers, then they are still having too much control and power over my life.
And, what’s the alternative? I have absolutely no idea.
I am slowly coming round to the idea of allowing time to grieve, not only for the abuse/hard times, but also for the childhood we were deprived of.
The end of group is a complete mystery. I remember the final sentence the Therapist said to me, but have totally blanked out about how we got there.
I immediately knew what she was referring to – the reasons why I finally withdrew from living the life I was used to; why I no longer allow family, friends or relationships into my life, preferring to lock myself away in blissful solitude.
It was the night I trusted a stranger and almost paid with my life. I don’t know how else to tell the story other than in the usual factual recount. It’s the same one I told to police, the courts and to the press; completely void of emotion.
Frankie, the Therapist said, “Maybe you might like to park that up and deal with it at another session”.