Posts Tagged ‘group therapy’

A Compassionate Letter to Yourself

The group session prompted us to write a compassionate letter to ourselves. Now after a few weeks I’m looking back and thinking how short and simple it was. Typically when I write notes to my therapist, it’s a barrage of meaningful meaninglessness. Why was I treating myself so succinctly.

Seems like I’m acknowledging my terrible problem with second guessing myself in every decision. I have a “shoulda” “coulda” solution for every problem. Telling myself to be grateful for where I am still feels hollow. Maybe one day I will truly receive this.

The letter feels hopeful but I can tell I feel like I’m in trudge. Sludging through mud or thick snow. Anxiety is a path to nowhere, and the out is often annihilation. No one is going to come save me because there is no saving. I’m just watching across the field, for something or nothing, while being eaten alive.

When there isn’t a lot of hope, then compassionate is just a gesture to show you’re still living.

I’m tired of having been through 2 or 10 years of ups and downs between doing the work of healing versus trying to “get past” traumatic events. In some ways it’s 30 years when I think about my childhood and teenage years. I’m tired of finding some discovery about how my brain works, applying it, then falling into another trap months later for something else.

I want catharsis even after having had so many cathartic moments. Expecting a catharsis is probably the problem.

Dear Eric,

I have compassion for all you have experienced and continue to endure as a result. You are an amazing person who has so many facets to you that are beautiful.  Life has been difficult at times and it is wonderful that you signed up for this workshop – it shows you know you are worthy of the love and support from this community.  (take it from here) 

Be grateful for all you’ve overcome.  Never second guess where you are in life or what you’ve done.  So many things have happened good and bad.  You are living the human experience and that is okay.

You’re tired and groggy from having to manage this chaos.  You may even believe you are a chaotic person or that you deserve some atonement.  These are stories and they help you bring meaning.

Remember you have done so much to bring light to the darkness and working on fixing yourself.

You believe there is a place that is better than now, or a person that is better than now, or you will arrive in the future.   You can arrive now and know each day will be even better.

Dealing with Uncertainty, Higher Power, and FOMO

I learn so much about what’s happening to me by hearing others convey the same experience. This week’s group therapy dealt with uncertainty. It was so incredible to hear others share their health anxiety thoughts and immediately I felt relieved to know I wasn’t the only one dealing with them. Of course I’ve prowled the internet long enough to watch every YouTube video on this kind of anxiety to hear every story imagined but something about hearing it in real time was freeing and I felt seen.

Obsessive thinking simply latches onto uncertainty with a vengeance. For me, nothing can ever exist in a range, in ambiguity, even when medical science says it’s ok. I don’t like it, I hate it. I had a very difficult session with my therapist on this, as it is currently really underlying things. I’ve been so good all my life at being specific and detailed in creative and professional pursuits, that I never thought I’d be turning it against me.

I know very well I’m not a logical person. As an ENFP, I think in feeling and externalities. And yet I am so confident about diagnosing myself through Google or applying second guessing to doctor’s advice. Their answers are never good enough for me, even when the answer is “you’re fine.” Self-imposed uncertainty is brutal.

Something telling for me in the group were the usually vocal people who were not as chatty. I thought about the things they were dealing with, death, great loss, betrayal, very deeply impacting but yet external events. They noted they had to accept the world wasn’t fair and that they couldn’t change what had happened. Obsessing over oneself would seem a far cry from losing a loved one who defined their future. In a way they gave into a higher power.

Certainly age had a role in this topic, as older members had settled into a life, a home, and accepted its conditions. Younger folk, or rather, the new adults, are confronted with too many choices amidst an atmosphere of uncertainty. I haven’t formed a sense of permanence anywhere on this planet and social media constantly shows I can just jet off to Bangkok where an AirBnb is waiting for me.

I’m missing out on something, or am I? What is this millennial grasping that pervades so many of our decisions. Why isn’t just going on vacation good enough? Again, it points to something about precisely what I want from myself. As yet I don’t have great insight.

Drawing Grief and Loss

Every week I join this lovely therapy group over Zoom and each week is a thematic exercise. This week we were asked to draw what our grief looked like when the loss happened and what it looks like now. I also learned that grief means the internal reactions we do to process loss. Mourning is the term for how we show it in the real world. I often get these words mixed up.

Grief presented when it happened before and how it manifests now in the present

It was weird using my drawing and coloring pencils because they’re tools I would normally use for fun. Applying them to something traumatic was like soiling their purity. Maybe the good thing about it was they were symbolic of reconciling with the past because some of my pencils were literally purchased during my urban design architect days.

I thought my drawings were pretty simplistic and rudimentary but after I started coloring things in, they really spoke to me. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with a wave of sadness for both the past and present.

My grief before picture represents me driving away from the hospital. In a way I’m racing away as fast as I can, eyes wide open, gripping the steering wheel. But to where? The colored objects are books and resources and even new cities I tried to escape to find solace in. I was racing to find information to cure the thing that caused it. The thing is, I’m still stuck in the hospital, like I never left, the wavy lines left and right of my eyes represent the hospital bed. The energy around me like a barrier keeping me stuck in bed.

The “bed” is reapplied to the present moment. My grief now is me, whole, but black and white, lifeless and still. I’m in purgatory, barely alive floating in a lovely river. In my meditations these past two years, I often envision a deep stream moving rapidly with lush foliage all around. I’m just floating on top, peaceful yet frozen.

I was a little embarrassed to show this, only because I don’t feel genuinely in a better place right now (in regards to this specific grief). However in many ways this is an improvement because it means I acknowledge that the past was full of frenetic undirected energy. It was a coping mechanism, a way to process grief by being busy. Letting go, becoming adrift, was the right to do. I just hope in the future I will end up upon a beach.

The wonderful part of sharing in a group was seeing the recurring themes and connections between us even though our traumas are so different. The themes of nature, paths, an environment, a space, all resonated. I saw a lot of transition between one difficult space to another. I didn’t feel so alone in the human experience.