3 days of group – day 2

i went in less guarded. let me back up and say this: i want to be a group therapist. in addition regular individual or couples or family focused sessions, i most definitely want to do group. i always had an idea, but after i took the required class on group therapy last year, i got hooked almost immediately. the things you can do with a group, the small microcosm that mirrors real life, the way people get triggered by each other the way they get triggered by people in their “real lives,” and the learning that can come from hearing someone else work through their shit… amazing. nothing like it. a safe place to work out personal and relational stuff? sold. and as a facilitator to watch the interactions, to stir things up, to shape the flow, to encourage people to work together? yes, please.

so yesterday i went in pretty open. i got a chance to be witness to and give feedback on a clash between two of the women. we are encouraged to be present when we’re telling our own stories, but even moreso to be present when listening to other people. what do i feel in my body during their argument? where does my mind go? how do i feel emotionally? being an observer in an argument gave me so much information about myself, and i was bursting with all the feedback i wanted to give them. my facebook status yesterday was, “i watch like an anthropologist.” yes. yes i do.

i did share some personal things with the group, like i was nervous about in my reflection yesterday. it was a little nerve wracking. i was telling on myself, telling my secrets. i kind of get off on that a little bit, telling what i think is so crazy and weird about myself, and then finding out that it all makes sense, that it’s a normal reaction to messed up circumstances. i guess that’s why i believe in therapy. for the way i feel after my secret is out. and with group i think it’s especially powerful; instead of just the therapist who is paid to listen to me and support me, here is a group of my peers completely buying into my life alongside me, reflecting back that i creatively did the best i could with what i had. and here i am, today, ready to try something different. it’s the best, most affirming experience!

the other meaningful experience was about stories.

a back story/an example: at friday night group i became aware of the way i isolate myself because of the way i view my story, the circumstances and my reactions that brought me to the present day. in working with another woman and talking about my history with my dad and meeting him for the first time, she tried to show empathy by relating a story about her experience with her own present but emotionally and a lot of times physically absent father. in my mind i immediately wanted to shut her down by being like, “you’re an idiot! if you think your story compares to mine and that we can bond over daddy issues because yours worked too much, you really are the delusional head-in-the-clouds type white person i can’t stand. oblivious whitey! don’t you understand the severity of my situation???” it’s ugly, but i’m willing to admit, that’s where i go sometimes. it has been an effective way for me to remain isolated, to confirm that no one could possibly understand my particular situation, my particular pain, that i am too unique to make genuine connections. stories are a competition and only certain people have stories bad enough/tragic enough to really get me. this is very lonely.

so saturday morning our instructor talked about the way stories work. the characters, the plot, and the components change and are unique to each person. but the feeling behind them, where they hit our insides, how we store them and make them a part of who we are and how we see the world… that is what brings us together.

you don’t say? that was an epiphany and like… a parole for me! a releasing of this part of me that says you couldn’t possibly know how this feels. i really needed that. it’s not rocket science, it’s common sense that i couldn’t hear until now. life changing stuff.

keep looking…

i was searching online for images of love, romance, happy couples, etc. for a love collage i want to do.  in particular i’m thinking of classic or vintage couples looking happy, caring, intimate but not overtly sexual.  what are you picturing so far?  remember that.

in my mind i’m hoping for at least a little diversity.  if you search any old bing or yahoo search engine for romantic couple, kissing, romance, love, etc., good luck on finding any black or biracial people.  or interracial couples.  or latinos, asians, natives… surprisingly you find a couple of east indians.  i scrolled down maybe 15 times before i found a black couple.  more asians than not were cartoons.  in good old standard regular love, there is no diversity.

searching by black gets you nowhere except black and white photos of white people and/or soft porn.  african american romantic gets you a few decent pictures, but by far you primarily get cartoons, book covers by terry mcmillan, and soft porn.  african american love?  super heavy on the cartoon porn.  what’s with the cartoons?  what does it say that i can more readily find a soft porn cartoon of sexy tribal black love than a normal black couple?  f’d up.

african american loving couple.  that’s where i finally found some images i could use.  and it took me all night, working my ass off like i’m playing catch phrase to get just the right combination of words to elicit live action relationships.  even then, wading through stock photos and cheesiness, it’s hard to find just a genuinely happy couple.

i’m not surprised, i’m just frustrated and disheartened.  along the same lines as my rant against the educational system in my earlier post. hidden colors, it’s demeaning to look up love, romance, happy couples – normal things, things we all strive for, and find no one that looks like me without inserting a pc identifier into my search.  if i want to see myself i have to be so specific that i’m forced to think about race when initially it wasn’t necessarily about race.  i just wanted to find some photos that i could relate to, wish on, mentally insert myself into.  (and let me tell you, forget about looking for biracial women in relationships, all you will find is hair beauty, mixed black/white couples, everybody’s favorite gorgeous babies, or sexualized biracial women.  thanks.  helpful.)

privilege is real and it lives in the small things, too.