In Which Heidi Finds Her Self (for a few minutes anyway)
Okay. I struggled today in Module Group. Module group is a topic oriented group that is on our schedule a few times a week. And today’s was led by a Direct Care woman who appears to be challenged with facilitating groups (and FYI, I am not the only one who thinks so). The topic was Self-Care. And it was going kind of okay. The DC facilitator was asking for folks to shout out ideas of self-care and recreation while she was writing them down. So, it was stuff like doing your nails, showering, taking a bath, being outside, etc., etc.
And then it took a turn. She then said that not all self-care things are good and could people come up with other self-care ideas. She was fishing for ED symptoms being “self-care”. And I started to feel really uncomfortable. I questioned where we were going with the topic and then one of my peers spoke up to give an example and cited her self-harm as a form of self-care. This is where I lost my shit. (Mostly internally, in the typical Heidi-fashion). There is no way that anyone can convince me that ED symptoms or self-harm or anything along those lines is a form of self-care. So, I said that I was uncomfortable and that the point of self-care it to promote one’s well-being and that self-harm and other things like that cannot be self-care because they are ultimately damaging. And if they are forms of “self-care” then none of us would need to be here at Hilltop. Honestly, I was really upset. And I am not sure the DC woman understood why I was upset, I pressed my point a bit and she just didn’t seem to get it.
And since I felt really upset, I did some internal checking. I have gained some awareness of some of my internal mis-processing while in treatment here. So I checked Heidi-trap #1. Am I using black and white thinking? Is this really an all or nothing issue? And I came up with, yes all-or-nothing, but not in an inflexible black and white kind of way. Cutting cannot be self-care. Starving yourself cannot be self-care. Maladaptive coping? Sure, but self-care? No. I checked Heidi-trap #2. Am I responding with this level of emotion from a place of Self or is this something being triggered from the past, like when I get upset because I feel like I am not being heard? I felt like she was hearing me, but not understanding and while I was frustrated by that, I didn’t feel invalidated. It was clear to me that she just didn’t get it. And it truly seemed to come from my Self. This was my Self desperately trying to steer away from my ED saying that restricting is a form of self-care and that it would be good for me to engage in symptoms. So, then I checked another Heidi-trap Was anything else going on that is making me react this strongly that is not actually about this topic. And I couldn’t think of anything. (And yes, I really did run down this list and use my best awareness to try to figure out why I was feeling so strongly…I think this is close to what they call “unblending.”)
What I decided was that I was just not going to agree that hurting yourself is a form of self-care. Hurting yourself may be a form of coping and for getting through an intense moment or for blocking feelings or having control but it is NOT self-care. I also realized I was afraid. I was afraid that this idea of ED symptoms as self-care was going to feed my ED and my ED would run with it. Like, I am on such precarious ground already, I don’t need anything to push me in the wrong direction. Nope, I decided that this topic was in no way going to be productive for me.
I told the facilitator that the topic was really triggering for me and that I wanted to leave the group, but I didn’t want to get a non-compliance for leaving. But leaving the group did not appear to be an option, so I felt utterly and totally trapped and I was pretty much in tears.
So, after the facilitator and I tried to get each other to understand each other’s positions, the facilitator said one of those phrases that peeves me to no end. She said (not a direct quote), “It seems like there is a bigger issue going on here that we should explore.” And that shut me down completely. I did not want to explore it any fucking further. As a matter of fact, since I was pretty sure that I was coming from Self and pretty sure that there was no way she was going to convince me that hurting yourself is a way of self-care, there was not really any deep underlying thing to talk about. So, since I couldn’t physically retreat, I emotionally retreated.
The discussion did continue a bit, my peers had more understanding of what I was trying to say and actually some of them agreed with me, which made me think that I was not totally being crazy. And the discussion went on to establish that there is a difference between coping and self-care (introduced by peers and not the facilitator) But over all, it was a crappy group.
I think perhaps what the facilitator was trying to do and how she was trying to say it were so out of sync that it just created a huge problem.
The other thing about the group was that instead of the usual two-person direct care team, it was only the facilitator in that group, so when I wanted to leave and was melting down and feeling triggered, I had no option. Like, just stepping outside to process my frustration for a couple of minutes may have prevented my shut-down. And I could have had an opportunity to get away from the group without risking non-compliance.
I will just reiterate, it was a crappy group.
The only, and I mean only plus side of this whole thing was that we are so over self-care as topic that it ended up being something that we were in hysterical laughter about it at dinner. (We didn’t discuss the group and its actual content at dinner but the term “self-care” was enough to set us off.) I have not laughed like that since I got here. And what an amazing experience, no one at our table was crying at dinner, we were all laughing. It may have been a bit inappropriate to be poking fun at the group topic, but still…We were actually LAUGHING. It almost felt normal.
After dinner, I talked to one of the evening DC people so I could get a chance to process the group a little bit. She pointed out to me that I could have left the group if I needed to so that I could take care of myself and re-enter the group. Of course, that makes total sense, but at the time, I was so focused on not getting another NC that I just felt stuck in the group…Next time, I can make a more empowered choice.
And speaking of dinner. I went in the dining room and looked at my plate and just cringed inside. I am so over how they serve my portions. And yes, I noticed the peer to my left looking at her dinner and her portion and then looking at mine and then looking miserable. She had already quietly asked the Direct Care person at our table if her portion was right….So I am sure my portion was glaring at her. I wonder what would happen if I just took my dinner and ate it at the table off the kitchen. Probably, I would get a non-compliance….But at least I wouldn’t feel humiliated.
And A Bit of Nature
It wasn’t horribly hot yesterday and before dinner, I went on a little wander around the yard. This was well within the
confines parameters of what I am allowed to do…I walked around the koi pond (yes, there is a koi pond here) and looked for frogs and looked at some rocks and just spent a few minutes by myself and for myself…Kind of like self-care. Real self-care. It was delightful. Maybe when I am not chafing about what I can’t do, I can actually find some enjoyment in what I can do.