So…First things first The new therapist gets a name: Grace. (note to self…update blog shorthand.)
I really chafed yesterday when Grace was telling me that I have issues in the group and with group dynamics. I know she bases this on what I have said, so there must be truth to it…But I like to think that I know how to negotiate social stuff, so I am feeling a bit touchy about it. I am feeling touchier about the fact that she wants me to check in with the group and talk about my struggles. And despite my trying to convince her that this is not necessary, she thinks that I should.
I struggle though, because I don’t think my issues in the group are that big. One of Grace’s concerns is that I am not connecting with people in the group, as evidenced by my isolating a lot and turning down peer requests to get together. What do I have to say to that? I do have connections with a couple of people in the group. Okay, literally with two of the dozen or so of us in the group. They were folks who I felt really connected with in PHP and basically, it was a long week while I was in IOP and they were still in PHP. But they came right after me and things are better.
The rest of the group? One person is very quiet (like scary quiet) and rebuffs my every attempt to talk with her. I even sit right next to her in groups and she hasn’t thawed at all. Another peer, I cannot connect with anymore because our relationship was toxic in PHP. Another peer has talked about connecting with me, but never follows through. Yet another peer appears really nice and seems really supportive, but she also sometimes comes across as forced with her insight and at times is passive aggressive. Of the folks left, I don’t really know one and she is discharging soon anyway, one is a man that reminds me so much of my dad that it has been a huge barrier for me, and the other…She seems nice and genuine, but she intimidates me a bit and so I haven’t really approached her.
Plus there is the whole shame thing I feel after last week. I am sooo embarrassed to be vulnerable in the group that it is not funny. (This is probably why Grace wants me to talk about it. Secret shame feeds shame. Outing shame decreases it.) What I really want to do is apologize for last week. And say how stupid I was for being so reactive and so defensive. Yes, I can say that I was/am ashamed. But then all my peers will give me positive and supportive feedback and encouragement, and what will that do? It’s not going to make me feel better. And actually, I will also get frank and blunt feedback, which also is not going to make me feel better. It will just compound my shame.
Basically, I feel like I can’t win, so why bother?
And then there is the text I got last night. I had been getting together frequently with a former treatment peer. And the past two weeks, I haven’t been in a place to get together and haven’t been responding much to her texts. Clearly, I hurt her feelings because she sent me this text, “I feel like you are ignoring me. If you don’t want to talk to me, just tell me and I’ll leave you alone.” So, now I have managed to alienate someone that I really like and enjoy spending time with. I don’t even know how to respond to her…What can I say that will make it better? Like, I want to tell her that I have been so depressed that I spent most of the weekend in bed. Or that adjusting to IOP has been really hard and I haven’t had much energy for anything else. Or that I am just crashing emotionally and don’t have much mental space for getting together. But all that is just excuses and there is no point in telling her. And I am ashamed for being a bad friend and hurting her feelings and I don’t know how to fix it.
Ugh…Everything makes me feel ashamed/embarrassed/socially inept right now. I don’t know what is wrong with me.
The next question is; What do I do about all of this? For the moment, I am just avoiding all of the group stuff. Will I check in during group? I am leaning towards no. However, I respect the opinion of my therapist a lot so I am not sure. And what will she think of me if I ignore her advice? Will I try to connect more with people in the group? That sort of feels like a recipe for more embarrassment, so again I am leaning towards no. And my friend that I have now alienated…Do I try to fix that?
And do I acknowledge that all these interpersonal dynamics I am struggling with are important? Because what I want to say (and have tried to convince Grace) is that I don’t need connection. Her response has been, “Heidi, I haven’t met anyone yet that doesn’t need connection.” My counter is, “Well, you hadn’t met me yet.”
Have I mentioned that I am really struggling lately? Yup. Life sucks right now.