“Group therapy is stupid. So fucking stupid.”
I am stomping in our bedroom walking in small circles as I say that out loud. Not just once. Or twice. Maybe a good 6 full small circles.
I grab a glass of ice and add water. Grab my cough drops. Click on the zoom invite for group therapy session 2. And wait. While I wait to be let in I smile. I defiantly did not do my homework. Fucking worksheets. I am not in 1st grade.
Thank goodness I say this with my inside voice. When the facilitator lets us in, we are not muted. That’s shady as fuck. Who allows participants to join a therapy group unmuted? She’s probably trying to catch us saying something negative. I hate to tell you all this but I am the only rude one in the bunch. At least I’m saying this shit to myself. I stare at myself in zoom. I am pretty disgusted. God, I look like shit. You can see my thinning hairline. My workout bra is way too visible under my workout shirt….
“Good evening everyone! So we have a few new members so let’s start out with introducing ourselves. Our ice breaker tonight is if you could hang out with any superhero who would it be and why?”
If I learned anything in the introductory group session it is not to tell the truth.
“Wonder Woman.” I answer. I give no reason why. The facilitator moves to the next person.
“ We are going start today with our breathing exercise. I will lead us with the count. Breathe in 4….hold for 7….exhale for 8. Eazy Peazy!”
I do what normal people who don’t want to have a heart attack do: breathe in for 4….hold for a few…breathe out what is comfortable.
“Okay. Let’s take out our worksheets.”
I see everyone grabbing pens and moving around papers. I do not. It’s another 10 fucking pages this week. Are you trying to tell me that all these fuckers printed out, in color, all ten pages?
“Today we are going to practice TOM. Thought. Opposite. Middle.”
Thank goodness I didn’t review the worksheets for this week because I definitely would have not shown up.
“You wrote down a situation you had in the last week that started you spiraling with negative self-talk? What’s as the thought you wrote down?”
No One. Said. One Word.
“Okay. For those of you who didn’t write it down can you think of a situation you experienced in the last week in which you started with a negative thought?”
Hmmm. Does our group facilitator not remember this is group therapy for anxious and depressed people? I bet we experienced everything with a negative thought.
“Anyone want to share?
No One. Opened. Their Mouth. The silence gave me a chance to scan the screen. I looked at Joe’s fake screen. Sarah’s eyes with her hoodie scrunched over her face. Linda picking at a scab on her right cheek. I felt more eat ease knowing I’m not the only one who is struggling to be present tonight.
“How about I start us out with an example? The thought is I feel hopeless that I won’t find a job after being laid off.”
Now this is a dumb example. No one in this group can identify with that. We all belong to this boutique medical service in which we use our active insurance and pay our co-pay to attend this group.
“Can anyone think of a negative thought they had? Yes! Go ahead Laura!”
“Thanks. So I have to collect data from 40 people I work with regularly. I have to ask and ask and ask. Finally I get the info but no one is nice. Or thanks me for the work I do that can be very difficult. I know they are all busy too but no one ever asks how I’m doing or asks if I need anything.”
She says all of that with this cracked voice of wanting to cry but doesn’t. She must do that at work too.
“So I know they are all busy so they don’t have time to thank me. Or ask me how I am.”
“Thank you for sharing Laura! Anyone else?”
Thank you for sharing Laura. Anyone else? That’s the facilitator’s response. Really?? Just like that? Just leave Laura hanging like that??
“I have a question for you Laura if that’s okay?” I unmuted myself before I could stop.
“Would you prefer that your colleagues acknowledge how hard you are working to collect the data making their jobs easier or ask how you are on a personal level?”
Laura’s nose crinkled. Her black framed glasses leaning to the left.
“Hmmm…….I think a little bit of both.”
The facilitator quickly jumped in. “Great answer to a good question.” That is all she said.
I wanted to leave the session. How does a trained nurse practitioner not give a fuck that Laura is drowning? The 14 of us are Laura’s dirty orange life preserver. It’s our job to keep her afloat in the dark ocean with all of the unknown underneath. Instead of leaving I entered this in the chat to everyone.
“I feel a lot of guilt and shame.”
The facilitator ignored it. Im glad she did. It wasn’t for her.
I got a private message not from Laura but from Joe.
“I feel a lot of guilt and shame too.”