New Year

So it’s Day 5 into the new year – technically, as I type this it’s Day 6 but since I  don’t count a day as ending until I turn in to bed, it’s still Day 5 for me – and I’m happy to say that I’ve had an eventful holiday/semester break.

Ever since Christmas at Chérie’s family’s, we’ve been inseparable. Below are some photos of us to highlight our stay together. She left for home a few hours ago and this apartment has never been quieter. After she left, I thought about how perfect this woman is in my life, and how she fulfills all of my needs, and more.I can’t imagine how my 2016 would’ve ended had she not entered my life.

I also thought about how great of a positive impact she’s had on my mental health. She’s been very encouraging during all my lows – and I discover that I am able to be vulnerable with her, and allow her to see me at my weakest, as well as allow her to help me. Much of what she says is still hard to believe but with repetition, I’m starting to build the habit of listening to her and to trust her. It’s been quite an experience.

I realized that having her around for the holidays, the impact of my depression has definitely been dulled. I still get into my low moods but they’re not as bad as they were back in the period of April – October. I see how important it is to have a significant other who understands my struggle as well as woks hard to help me in my walk.

Between the two of us, I have a more severe anxiety disorder, while she has a more severe ADHD, so it really works out well because I provide for her the coping skills that she lacks, while she provides me the coping skills I lack. She’s always able to see past my anxiety and help me see past it as well, while I’m always able to remind her to do the things that she needs to do (having poor short term memory is pretty typical in ADHD sufferers).

I know I’ve talked about Chérie a lot lately, and it seems like I can’t talk about anything else but her. However, if you have someone who’s impacted your life so drastically, I don’t think you’d be able to stop talking about them either…

In any case, I’m going into 2017 with more positive feelings. I hope that things will continue to go smoothly – I can’t help but feel like after such a shitty 2016, I need a breather, and I need a year that won’t keep pounding me down.

I hope everyone else’s year started out right! I hope that I will be able to have more time to blog.

A Most Intense Group Session

Wow… I just walked out of the most intense group therapy session ever. I’ve got stress muscle soreness all over my shoulders and neck – the trademark physical sensation I feel when I’m extremely stressed and anxious.

What caused this? – you might be curious to know.

It started out innocuously enough. (Since I’ve been using so many initials and it’s starting to get confusing who’s who, let’s give my group members actual names – of course, they’re not going to be their real names).

It started when Brandon said that he was upset over the Westboro Baptist Church showing up on campus. It was unsurprising seeing that Brandon is gay and that he had been raised in not only a conservative but also abusive household. He was forced into conversion therapy and somehow managed to survive it – albeit he was broken and traumatized from it. Brandon is an intelligent guy – and I relate to him in many levels – so I was unsurprised when he launched into a tirade about how despicable people are to not be empathetic towards him, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in general. He talked at length about how he felt like nobody cares to listen to his views – that nobody cares about him.

I added to his line of thought by talking about how I felt when I was at the counter protest and about how despite the fact that I was only there for 10 minutes, that it had impacted me in a way that I never thought it would – it made me wonder if God hates me and is therefore punishing me for my sins. I told him that I related to him and how he felt. I told him that he is right in saying that people so cruel to want us to die just because of our orientations.

When J (the lead psychologist) asked Brandon how he felt when I expressed my empathy and agreement, he told her that he felt good to know that someone understood him, his position, and how he felt. He expressed that he hadn’t felt the same from any of his friends or even family. That no one truly understood how he felt.

I chimed in and told him that no one truly will understand because unless they’ve been through something similar, it’s a very difficult concept to address. After all, how many people can say that they’ve had to grapple with ideas of their faith and their very being? How many people can say that daily, they wish that they were normal, or that they weren’t judged for who they can’t help but love? Not many people can say that unfortunately because people like us are still in the minority.

From there, that was when it happened.

For the first time in 2 semesters, our group walked into a conflict. It wasn’t on purpose.

Kyle meant well. We all knew that – he was always someone who is very kind, and honest. We’ve promised each other that we would all be honest with each other while we’re in the safety of the group therapy room. We promised we would say what was on our minds. And Kyle did that. He told Brandon that he felt that he could understand what Brandon felt but that he could also see why the WBC protestors feel the way they do. He told Brandon that he just simply can’t pick sides because both sides are right in their own way – who is he to say that one is more right than the other.

Brandon was upset because he didn’t understand why Kyle could say that. He didn’t understand why Kyle felt that the WBC could be right in their beliefs. J intervened and asked Kyle what he felt. Or why he said what he said. Kyle explained that he just always thinks that way – that that’s his opinion and that he can’t take sides.

“Kyle, in this case, Brandon was asking for some empathy. That you feel for him…” J said gently.

“Please, just be empathetic for me. Feel empathy for me. Just feel empathy for me,” Brandon pleaded.

Kyle didn’t understand what Brandon was asking for. In his mind, his opinion that he should be impartial was his way of communicating his empathy. He didn’t understand why Brandon was upset and why J was pushing him. I decided to speak.

“I’m curious, Kyle… Where did that come from? I mean, did you pick the impartial side because you feel like you can’t be judgmental of either side? Is it because you don’t want to feel empathy for Brandon? Or is it just because you can’t reach that emotion?” I had asked. I was genuinely curious. I didn’t mean anything cruel by it at all.

Kyle responded negatively, “Why is everyone saying that I don’t have empathy? I feel like everyone’s just focused on me right now. That you’re all on me…”

J intervened again, asking Kyle what he was feeling at that moment. Kyle couldn’t answer. He tried to answer, several times, but kept coming up short. He told us that he was just so stressed out that his thoughts aren’t being articulated and that we were all just misconstruing his true meaning.

The exchange continued and I started to feel extremely distressed and uncomfortable. I started getting the stress-related muscle soreness that I often feel when I’m stressed out and anxious. I knew that we were in the middle of a conflict – I didn’t like it and I wanted to withdraw. I caught J looking at me several times, like she was keeping an eye on me or something.

J managed to get Brandon and Kyle to a point where they were both able to express how they felt rather than what their opinions were on the political issue. J stressed that we weren’t interested in the political issue, however important they may be, but rather that we wanted to know what Brandon and Kyle were feeling instead.

That was when Kyle just broke down and cried. When J asked, “Kyle, do you often feel this way? That people don’t understand that despite you having shown empathy, that people would say that you didn’t?”

He said that he has experienced that numerous times – that he didn’t understand why people would think that way.

Moments later, he started sobbing.

“Is this why I always feel so alone? Like no one cares? Is it because I can’t show my empathy? Is it because my friends, family… My ex… Thinks that I’m just brushing them off and not showing them empathy? But that’s how I’ve always communicated. There’s little difference between opinion and how I feel…” Kyle said, between sobs.

“It’s hard, Kyle. It definitely is. I mean, it’s so much easier to push people away with a well-intentioned but intellectual comment, than it is to tell us how you feel at any given time. I recognize that because I know that I do the same exact thing myself. I mean, it’s hard… It sucks. It makes you feel so vulnerable… And I get it, you don’t want to be vulnerable. But that was why I asked the question I did earlier. That was why I was curious. I was wondering if you were doing what I usually would do myself. It seems like you do…”

It was quite a breakthrough because Kyle stopped sobbing and became thoughtful. He started to realize what we were all trying to say – that none of us felt his emotions whatsoever. We heard his opinions, but that was it. We didn’t know how he felt.

“Do you think this is what you need from the group? That in the future, you want them to help you recognize that you’re not showing your feelings?” J asked, “Now I know it’s been hard and you can say that you’re done… But, if you’d like, do you think that’s what you need?”

After some thought, Kyle said that he sure did. He said that he felt that he had been stagnating for a while now. That it was because he didn’t want to keep doing this anymore – this hard work. He said that he felt the same with individual therapy as well.

We continued to process a few other thoughts and emotions from the group about this interaction for a few more minutes. I admitted to the group that I felt so distressed that I had wanted to withdraw but I was glad that I stuck with it, no matter how uncomfortable it was.

J then said, “This is hard work!” She sounded almost triumphant. She sounded proud and impressed at the same time. “You did hard work!” She said loudly, looking around the circle.

She was right. We did. We didn’t shrink away. Instead, we pushed each other to the precipice of a breakdown. We pushed Kyle harder than we’ve ever done.

J admitted that she was pushing very hard. That she was doing it because she knew that we would benefit from it, that Matt would benefit from it. T – the co-facilitator – spoke up and said that he felt that the group had been teetering on the verge of a conflict for a long time now but that we’ve never really been ready to embrace that. He was right. We have been close to conflict many times but we’ve never really followed through with it. Somehow, one of us would break away and that would be the end of that.

Today though… Wow… I’m proud of us. That was impressive. That was hard work. I’m still left reeling from the session – an hour after it’s ended, I’m still feeling like I could curl up in a ball and cry. I still have the stress aches… Unfortunately, I have to put that in the back burner and go to work now. I have to stop here. I have more thoughts about today – about how J had been courageous herself for pushing because I noted that she had looked like she was emotionally struggling with the decision to push Kyle as well…

I am just so impressed by the people I interact with – especially these people that I trust my life and secrets to. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this group!

 

Difficult Weekend

It’s been a difficult weekend but I’m still here.

I promised my group that I would be back next week despite the difficult thing I shared with them during group on Friday. I had initially been silent – I kept quiet for the first hour of the 1 1/2 hour session. I didn’t want to say anything despite the fact that I was getting triggered and reacting to all the things that the other members were saying.

Finally, after about an hour, J – the lead facilitator – asked me what I was reacting to and what I’m thinking. I had been abnormally quiet in my corner of the room.

I hesitated. I didn’t really know if I wanted to take the attention/focus away from M, who had been sharing his experience being abandoned by friends that he thought he was close with. He didn’t think he would be betrayed like that and was expressing his anger, bitterness, and sadness over that. I reacted to all that he had said because I have experienced betrayal, and abandonment as well.

When I finally spoke, I unleashed a floodgate of emotions. I was overwhelmed as I spoke – my voice trembled and tears streamed freely. I tried to control my outburst but it was difficult. I talked about how distressed I was last week when we had cancelled group because half the group didn’t show up and how that had led to self-harm. I talked about how abandoned I felt when that had happened. I had had a bad week (dealing with the aftermath of my divorce and my ex’s remarriage), and thought that I could be helped at group – I also thought that if I was at group, then at least I can focus on helping someone else. That usually gets me out of my rut. But since the group therapy session got cancelled, it really triggered feelings of hopelessness in me.

Inevitably, that led to me opening up about how I felt about my divorce and the remarriage. As I started to speak about my divorce, I had to quickly stop because I was going to start sobbing really hard had I continued. “I’m sorry, guys…” I said, as I tried to compose myself again. When I felt a little more composed, I continued and gave a short summary of all the things that I’d been feeling the past 2 weeks. As I spoke, M, who is also experiencing a break from a 7 1/2 year relationship also broke down. I felt bad for triggering that and I apologized to M for making him break down too.

With 10 minutes left to the clock, I said I’m at the point in my relationship with the group that I start to withdraw because I’m starting to feel like a burden again. S noted that it seems like I have been starting to do that again. That I am being more withdrawn than usual. I said to the group that I felt like a burden and that no one should have to help me with this shit that I have to deal with.

T, the co-facilitator, told me that he hates that we have to end at such a point in the discussion, but that we were running out of time and he wanted to check in with M to see if he was okay first before we ended. M said that he was okay, but that he was experiencing the grief that he has been having over his own break up. Then unexpectedly, R spoke up (he’s the quietest member of the group but always has something valuable to offer whenever he speaks). He addressed me, “Jules, I don’t think you’re a burden. I hope you keep coming back here and keep telling us your problems. At least on my side, I don’t think that you’re a burden at all. We’re here to support you. And that’s why we’re all here, right? I just want you to know that so that you don’t beat yourself up…”

I started crying again. I thanked him and told him that it was a very genuine gesture that really touched me. Then the other two members also offered their support and kind words. We actually went over time by 5 minutes but after group had ended, and the facilitators had left, 4 of the members hung around to give me more support. It was very touching.

I felt touched to know that if nothing else, I have this group of people who actually know me better than people I’ve known for 10 or more years, because this group of people knew the core of me – all my problems, all my genuine and truthful opinions and thoughts. We are in this together and we’re all working hard to help each other. I really liked that about group.

On a different note, financially, I’ve been struggling badly as well. I’m not making the tips that I need at the restaurant that I work at and often, I feel like I’m wasting time at work when I could be working on my programs, assignments, and Calculus homework. However, when I get home, I am too tired to do any of those and I feel bad too.

I’m pretty stressed out about having to work so much while going to school full time, but I don’t feel like I have a choice at the moment. I have way too many credit cards and bills to pay for and my situation just looks really bleak.

It’s hard to get out of my rut sometimes. Also, my computer – the one I take to school to program with – just broke so I just had to spend $150 getting a refurbished Chromebook to replace that. 😦

So yeah, I’m still here. Still struggling. Still trying hard to do better, to BE better.

People Care

“I want to die”

4 words I posted on Facebook that gained almost immediate attention from one of my coworkers and an old friend whom I’ve not seen in 5 years. It was touching.

In that moment when I posted it, I had meant it. I did want to die. I was overwhelmed and exhausted.

I had a Discrete Computational Structures assignment that I barely understood and therefore had barely done that is due on Wednesday. I also have 3 sections worth of Calculus homework to turn in. And on top of that a programming assignment that I hadn’t started yet. That was just a matter of school alone. On top of that, I was just so discouraged by the fact that I had gotten such terrible marks for my Calculus test – I was just so perplexed as to how I could get a 56. I thought I had a good grasp on limits.

I also didn’t think that my ex’s re-marriage was such a big deal to me – that is, until it happened and I was hit by the realization that I still hurt. Maybe not as much as I did before, but it’s still there.

So, in the heat of the moment, in my discouragement and despair, I posted that status on Facebook. Almost immediately, my phone rang. I was in class so I replied to the call with a message, “I’m in class, booboo”. I asked my coworker/friend if she needed something. She asked me if I needed anything or if I needed to talk. I told her that I was ok. That there’s nothing to talk about. I just have too much to do and too little time.

“Don’t push me away, Jules” – her message was insistent and clear.

“I’m not. At least I’m not doing it consciously. I guess I’m just pushing everyone away. I need to regroup somehow. I just don’t know how” – I’d responded.

“It’s ok. I understand you need your space. But when I see ‘I want to die’ on Facebook, the last thing I’m giving you is space. Push everyone away when you’re stronger. Not right now. You are wonderful and valuable, and your coworkers, your family, your friends, those who look to you for support, need you. You are needed and wanted. You’re always smiling. You have a natural smile, you don’t even have to work for it”

As I read her messages, tears welled in my eyes. I didn’t think I’d receive such sweet and kind words so instantly. I felt heard and almost immediately, that felt like enough. I was whining, and someone answered to the whines.

I know that I do have people who care about me. I know that – especially here on my blog, I know that there are those who would respond immediately to my posts. I also know that there are people in my life that I can rely on for comfort. Yet, my EQ hasn’t caught up with my IQ. Despite all this knowledge, the heart hasn’t learned it yet. The brain has, and the brain is frustrated with the heart.

Multiple people after the initial two responses I got, started posting supportive messages and it felt good to read them. Q, and PD, both sent me messages that I needed to hear – most notably, “Give yourself a break, take care of yourself”, which gave me something like an excuse to have ice cream today. I’m also going to turn in for bed early without doing any homework.

I am burnt out. I need to be honest with myself on that. I am so burnt out that I’m barely functioning. I am honestly a zombie; just dragging my feet around campus, trying to keep awake in classes, trying to stay afloat.

Physically, I’m also not rested enough. Dark circles have formed under my eyes, my hair is some days very difficult to tame (because I desperately need a haircut), and my skin just looks tired, and pale. My nose had been bleeding for the past 2 days. I’m amazed that I hadn’t fallen asleep driving yet, like I used to back when I lived 30 minutes away from campus.

I’m just suffering on all the different aspects of life. I know I need a break and I promise myself (and everyone else who cares to know) that I will be taking a break 10 days from now. I can’t wait. I am going to go out of town and hopefully if all works out, be better rested when I come back.

It’s definitely something I have been looking forward to for maybe a month and a half now. The last time I was going to go out of town, my plans fell short so I’m not trying to be too hopeful this time.

Anyway… I called the Crisis Line yesterday. I am thankful that I did because the lady that spoke to me was very kind and empathetic. She and I spoke for 40 minutes or so (I had to be put on hold twice for about 5-10 minutes each time). She helped me feel a little better. Just having someone listen to me was definitely what I needed – to feel that human connection, to hear that person’s voice… It was comforting. I was skeptical at first and didn’t want to give it a chance because I hated speaking on the phone. I didn’t think that anyone could say anything that I hadn’t heard before. It turned out that despite having heard some of the things that the Crisis Intervention Specialist said, it didn’t sound condescending or old. In fact, hearing it from someone else who’s a complete stranger, felt really good. It just reaffirms what others have said to me.

I don’t think I’d have done anything harmful to myself – after all, I don’t have any more knives with me, and I’d surrendered my rope to S as well. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to go to bed without feeling terribly restless though.

The 4 words that I’d posted on Facebook was dramatic and probably unnecessary but it was a helpful reminder that people care. That I need to stop the knee-jerk reaction of pushing people away.

Processing a Childhood Trauma – Thoughts From Therapy #61

-Potential trigger warning: This post contains content that deal with childhood sexual trauma and self-harming thoughts. Note that this is also going to be a really long post.-

It is a strange thing that I feel that I deserve more compassion when I see myself as someone else than when I see myself in the first person. In the midst of raging thoughts of self-harm, my person, SH, messaged me on Facebook with two simple words, “You ok?”. I contemplated how to answer him.

I wanted to lie. I wanted so badly to lie so that I could go and hurt myself.

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When I Stood On The Top Floor Of The Parking Garage

After the incredible session with S on Monday, I had one that I felt really unsatisfied with on Wednesday. I was unsatisfied because I was in a confused state of mind so for the first half an hour, we talked about something that I didn’t feel was very important and didn’t hit the points that I wished it had which unfortunately, because I was so confused, I wasn’t even sure what points I did want us to hit. I also felt unsatisfied because with only 20 minutes left, I had remembered an 8-year-old memory and had brought it up. It was something that had impacted me so much and had devastated me so badly 8 years ago that I had buried all the memories connected to it for that amount of time and had never thought of it again until Wednesday. Because we only had 20 minutes, after I had explained all kinds of details to S, we didn’t have time to process any of the information that I had presently. We briefly talked about how disappointing people had been towards me then and how cruel what they did to me had been.
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After Group

“It’s not just a haircut…” C said, as she looked at me empathetically. “There’s one important thing I want you to do tonight, after you are picked up at work and get home. When you are alone, and these thoughts come back, I want you to go to the mirror and look at yourself. Look at your haircut and what that represents for you. It’s not just a haircut…”

That was what C said to me earlier, after group therapy ended (it was our last session together – I was feeling really emotional, and B and C (the two psychologists that lead our group) had asked me to join them at C’s office after the session.

It was my first time being confronted by two psychologists at once. It felt a little intimidating but at the same time, also felt very nice because I knew that two people whom I’ve come to look up to care about me enough to want to talk to me.

“What’s up?” I asked them as I sat down – knowing full well what was up. This was familiar – as it has happened at least 2 times before this. This was about my BHM score.

“Oh, we looked at your BHM score and we just wanted to check in to make sure you’re safe…” B said, I had indicated in my BHM that I was always suicidal and that my risk was at a moderate level. “I know S had alerted us to the fact that your scores are going to be elevated for a while but we just wanted to make sure…”

I knew they were doing their job, but I couldn’t help but feel like these two women cared for me at a deeper level than just the job. They’ve seen me grow throughout therapy and they are invested in my future growth.

“Are you going to be safe?” C asked.

I didn’t know what to say. Since having my haircut, I’ve been receiving many compliments. Even random strangers would come up to me and tell me how great I look. It has boosted my confidence and made me feel better than I have in a while. Yet, despite that, it’s still there – that darkness is still lurking. It’s still angry and now even more upset because I’ve found something that strengthened me. I still don’t know who “it” is – I’ve not gotten any answers the times I’ve asked it who it is.

“I think I’ll be ok…” I said, not able to look at either women in the eye. They didn’t look away – I could feel their gaze on me.

“I know you say that you will be ok… But why don’t I feel good about that?” C asked.

“I think I just need to focus on the good things, on the more positive things… It’ll be ok. I just need to hang on until tomorrow…” I said, sounding completely unconvincing. “I mean, S took my knife away…”

“S took your knife away?” C asked.

“Yeah… He asked me if he needed to take that away from me and I said that it was probably a good idea…” I said.

“S took your knife away… But when there’s a will, there’s a way, right?” C persisted.

I started crying. “Yeah. Yeah there is… I mean, I can’t tell you how I’ll be in a few hours from now… ” I said. I showed them the scars that I had just recently acquired. Sure, S had taken my art knife away but when I was home, I have access to the kitchen knife.

It was true. I’ve never liked the question that psychologists pose, “Are you going to be safe?” because when I’m triggered, I react. I can’t help it most of the time. I know I need to work on better coping skills so that I don’t just react each time I’m triggered but it’s a process…

I didn’t know what else to say. I just told her that coming to group today had helped me a little to cope with a stressor that I’d had last night. It was something that affected me deeply and in the midst of it, I thought to myself, “See, this is why it’s better that I just die. It’ll absolve Hubster of his responsibility over me…”. I told B and C this. I told them that it’s much easier if I just died.

“Also, I go to bed really late… It’s usually during those times that I get the worst feelings.”

“And that’s understandable… It’s dark, you’re all alone… You’re tired… I can’t think straight when I’m tired!”

“Yeah…” I said, “I haven’t had enough sleep for a while now.”

“What do you have to do after this until tonight?” C asked, “After you work, after you get picked up… What will you do between 9 and 1?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean, I have school work I need to do… I guess I’ll do that… Or maybe I’ll force myself to go to bed earlier…” I said.

“Yeah, going to bed earlier might be a good idea…” C said.

“I mean I’ve tried the crisis chat line before and that wasn’t helpful at all…” I said.

B said, “Just like how there are bad therapists or therapists that you don’t match well with, there are also crisis lines that aren’t as well managed…”

C picked up a business card and gave it to me. She pointed at the list of crisis hotlines.

“Just because one didn’t know work for you, doesn’t mean you should just give up. If one doesn’t work, try another and another,” C said s she handed me the card with all the pertinent information about crisis lines.

“Yeah… I’ll try…” I said, “I mean… I also made a promise. I promised S that I’ll try to hang on. I don’t want to break that promise…”

We were quiet for a while. C took the opportunity to fill the void. She said something that made me sob uncontrollably.

“It’s not just a haircut…” C said, “There’s one important thing I want you to do tonight, after you are picked up at work and get home. When you are alone, and these thoughts come back, I want you to go to the mirror and look at yourself. Look at your haircut and what that represents for you. It’s not just a haircut…”

I had shared in group that my haircut symbolized something important to me. It felt like a change that I needed; like it was the step I had to take in this journey of recovery. I told the group that as the stylist cut my hair away, I visualized all the bad things falling away and I had started feeling lighter. B had commented then that it seemed like I had more confidence than she’s ever seen me have. I told her that the haircut did give me a boost in my confidence and that people seem to want to talk to me more now – it’s like just exuding some confidence makes people more willing to interact with you.

So when C said that, the floodgates opened and I sobbed. Both B and C let me sob for a few moments. It was so easy to forget the good things. I had just ended group, and I had already forgotten that I’m stronger than I let myself believe. That like B said, I have the courage to keep going.

“I am smarter than I think… All things are possible today… Good news is coming my way…” I said, repeating what one of my group members had shared in group today. He said that it was something that he was taught as a child and he repeats that every day. It sounded like something I needed to hear. B and C smiled and nodded. “Yeah… I guess it’s so easy to forget that…”

“It’s ok. I’ll remember it for you. I’ll hang on to it for you…” C said.

“You’ve got an entire team here working with you. Don’t worry. We will keep reminding you, Jules…” B said.

I cried some more because what they said was touching.

“Thank you…” I said, choking back all the tears. “Thank you…”

“I’m more of a tactile person so I’d touch my hair… But whenever you need affirmation, you need to look in the mirror…”

“I like to touch it too…” I said, brushing my fingers through my sides. We were silent for a few moments. “Yeah…” I said, as I thought about what C had just told me – about how my haircut was more than just hair. It’s a symbol of hope for me. It’s something I badly need to hang on to right now. “Yeah…” I repeated. “Thank you…”

Now sure that I would be ok, B and C relaxed. I could sense it in their body language.

“Okay. Come on, let me walk you to the door…” She said.

As I gathered my belonging and followed her out, I said to her, “You know. You’re doing a great job, C. I hope you finish and graduate and be able to do your own thing…” (C is actually an intern at CAPS and I realize now that B was probably present because being C’s supervisor, she was probably wanting to observe C’s session.)

“Yeah, I hope that I can graduate too,” C said as she opened the door.

Funnily enough, we bumped into S who was trying to get into the office while I was trying to get out.

“Oh sorry!” C said.

“Hi S!” I said, my heart leapt with a measure of excitement. I don’t often see S outside of his office so whenever I do, it’s an exciting moment. He was carrying some groceries.

“Oh! Hi, Jules!” He said – I saw him do a double take when he saw me. He had paused slightly after saying hi, probably because he didn’t recognize me at first. I was hoping that he’d see me with my new hair tomorrow but maybe a quick preview would spare him the shock.

Anyway, so group has ended for me. It has been a bittersweet experience. Bitter because it has ended and because of the stuff we dealt with but sweet because not only was I able to connect with 3 other people on a deep level, I was also able to learn how to listen, learn to be more forgiving towards myself, learn to be supportive and also learn more about myself.

B, being the lead psychologist, noted that though every group is different, she did think that our group was very quick to dive in to our “hidden” areas – i.e. the stuff we hide from people and don’t want to talk about – and was quick to attack our root areas. She said that because of that, we were able to grow so quickly and be such a great team. I feel proud of that. I feel proud to be a part of a group that did so well in such little time.

I also feel a lot of affection for the other two group members (both amazing guys) despite only knowing their personal life stuff and nothing about their background or story. I’ve known these people more intimately than I’ve ever really known anyone (besides Hubster). I trusted these people with my life and parting ways with them today hurts.

I’m grieving this loss. I’m grieving the fact that I might never see these guys again. I’m grieving the fact that we had gained momentum and were unpacking so many important issues that we were all grappling with – but now, it’s all over. I’m grieving all these things but at the same time, I’m also celebrating the end of a chapter. I’m celebrating the lives of these two other men that I’ve had the privilege to get to know. I watched both of them grow and change through these 8 weeks – BE went from being a shy kid who would barely speak, to a more confident leader who brought notes to therapy and who led a session himself. DD stopped minimizing his feelings and emotions and started to let us in. Today he actually told us a very important personal information that he never could reveal to us before. He told us that he trusted us.

I love these guys – maybe I’m just being emotional right now but that’s how I feel currently. I can’t even adequately express just how much I’ve learned from them or how important they’ve been to me. Through it all, they’ve also reminded me of how important I have been to them. They made me feel wanted and heard. They gave me a place where I belonged. I owe them a lot.

Things will not be the same even if I attended another group.

BE summed it up nicely, “It’s not going to be the same with another group. I don’t think I can attend another process group ever again. It’s just not going to be as special… It won’t have you two in them…”

He made me cry with his words. In fact, I couldn’t stop crying for the last 10 minutes of the session. When it was all said and done, I told them, “We’re going to be ok. We’re going to be just fine…” It was more for me than it is for them, but I think they appreciated hearing it as well.

At the end of it, we took pictures – B and C commented that this has never happened before; no one has ever asked to take photos of group before. B warned us that this meant that our privacy will no longer be ensured. We all agreed that it was fine.

Pictures are important to me and being able to look at a photo in the future and reminisce on this great chapter of my life feels like it’s something I really nee so I’m glad that BE suggested that we take a photo together.

I just can’t believe that I was initially so resistant to joining group. I was so adamant against it but S never stopped trying. He kept bringing it up and reminding me of group opportunities. Now that I’ve joined and had a great experience, I’m ready to do another group. It’ll never be the same as this first group but I know that I’ll glean even more about myself when I attend future group therapies! I’m so thankful that I attended this.