The update on our hot-headed beer delivery driver from my last post concludes that he will not be representing the company again, oh shit! This news tinges any satisfaction with regret. I’ve always felt responsible for other people’s feelings and their misfortunes, which raises one of the biggest challenges I’m about to face in group therapy tomorrow…urgh.
I was the only member to show face at last Friday’s group session. I understand why some of the others find commitment a challenge, but their absence can affect everyone else’s therapy. It was a rather odd experience, although I was equally pleased to speak to the two group Therapists alone.
While I am careful what I write about group, I do feel it’s acceptable to discuss an issue from the perspective of how it affects my own therapy.
I perceive one of the group members as extremely vulnerable and I’m always fearful of tipping him over the edge into deeper depression or suicidal feelings. Since the beginning of this programme, he has irritated me on a number of occasions by talking for large amounts of time during the session. It doesn’t seem to matter who is talking, everything will eventually revolve back to his plight and he will think nothing of interrupting with similar tales of woe.
While I was talking to the Therapists on Friday, I realised this group member represents my own mother. Everything had to revolve back to her and I bore the brunt of those temperamental moods, while accepting blame for many misfortunes too. If I had the audacity to speak my mind or show any kind of negative emotion, it would ultimately lead to disapproval with some form of rejection thrown in for good measure.
Whenever this group member talks incessantly, I seem to experience a weird fear response and rather than exert my own contribution, I withdraw and start to shut down. The adrenaline soars through my veins in seconds and it feels as though I am trembling from head to toe. My heart pounds so hard against my chest, I will come close to losing my voice completely.
I’ve only ever experienced this kind of response in the group. I can be as mouthy as the next person can, but I go to great lengths to project a calm and confident persona and this ‘fear response’ blows my cover completely, which feels humiliating.
The last session I attended with this “talkative” group member, I started to lose patience. I was so terrified of imposing on his vulnerabilities, I quickly became overwhelmed with fear of stepping on his toes. When someone noticed I was quiet, the only words I could squeeze from my voice box were, “I can’t contribute… it wouldn’t be very nice.”
Apparently, my fellow-groupy is very upset because my response suggests I am annoyed with him and his topic of discussion. Of course, I only perceive his response as ‘poor me’, which almost expects some kind of explanation at our next session. Once again, everything needs to revolve back to him.
Children of narcissistic parents grow up believing in their own selfishness. We quickly learn that the parent’s needs and feelings come first. If the child shows anything resembling a free will, the narcissist will tarnish the ‘ungrateful little brat’ as rude and ungrateful. Punishments can easily escalate from verbal abuse through to physical assault, or the silent treatment might hang in the air for days. Both responses carry the ultimate message of disapproval and rejection if we dare speak out against them.
Group therapy represents our mini world and that includes certain family dynamics, which is why it can be such an uncomfortable and painful experience. It’s one thing to identify the cause and effects of a problem, but overcoming the most challenging aspects often depend on action. No one is asking me to confront these fears by speaking out, although the very nature of therapy invites us to act upon whatever pulls on our conscience the most.
I need to face my fear of rejection whenever I am unwilling to please another person. I have no other choice but to tell this man how I feel at tomorrow’s group, but I am not looking forward to it. This is something I need to do for myself. After all, this is my therapy too.