I find it easy to be retrospective, but when something is actually happening, I seem oblivious to the idea of connecting with the thoughts and feelings in that particular moment. It is a challenge to maintain concentration or observe a situation objectively.
Friday was group therapy. Earlier in the morning, I was struggling with an all too familiar sense of detachment. I resist the temptation to turn the car around. Something as petty as not knowing what to talk about seemed to be invoking anxiety and paranoia. There is usually an opportunity to rehearse my agenda, but my mind is blank and it feels as though I’m going on stage without first learning my lines.
Sitting in the group, those stressful emotions were so intensely focussed there was no awareness why I wanted to hide. In hindsight, I wonder if there’s always a need to simulate the best of me… too worried what other people might think… too eager for them to like me… not judge me.
Since the start of therapy, there were concerns about my memory problems and an apparent inability to retain information. It’s even a struggle to remember recent posts on this blog. A vague summary of the last two are already hazy, and beyond that, there appears to be a dark hole.
It is feasible that my memory problems are more about dissociation and perhaps the distractions of a very busy – extremely paranoid – mind. Oddly, it hasn’t yet crossed my mind to share with the group how paranoia envelopes every corner of my life. Despite the central focus, the dissociative part often forgets it’s a problem. The thought simply isn’t there.
The two group Therapists were talking a little more than usual, most of it made little sense. Some sentences sounded like a foreign language.
The group Psychiatrist, Dr J, was talking about connecting with the feeling rather than the details of the memory… something about sitting with whatever emotion comes up. I didn’t have a clue what she meant and asked for clarification.
Rather than appear foolish, it’s easier and more comfortable if I feign understanding. In retrospect, perhaps there is more avoidance at play rather than an ability to comprehend. Nevertheless, her words have tiptoed in and out of my consciousness ever since.
As the group sliced through the ninety minutes, there was something starting to swirl around inside my mind. It seemed so unrelated to what everyone else was saying and there didn’t seem to be an appropriate entry point, although I do recognise the avoidance tactic.
It feels safer to work with this kind of awareness from the retrospective comfort of my PC. From this vantage point, there are no surprise questions to challenge my somewhat warped rationale and neither is there a chance of sitting with any emotion… or is there?
Part of me wants to continue to hide just behind the veil of the here and now, pretend everything is okay, that I’m happy with this existence. Today I catch a glimpse of what Dr J meant by sitting with the emotion…. I think this is where healing is supposed to take place.