So I had planned to do some work on feelings. I found this great book for teenage girls I bought for my daughters a long time ago, talking about and explaining feelings. So I made up some exercises to go with the book.
In my experience, sometimes these things work and sometimes they don't. I don't really know what it depends on, but it just happens this way.
Anyhow, so after the warm up of circling words of feelings that they have felt before, from a photocopy from a page of the book, and listing them as "Strong", "mild" or "in between," I gave them a large piece of paper and the direction to fill the paper as a group, and as collage of feelings using any materials they wanted. I gave them faces of people showing different emotions that I had pre-cut, plus objects that carry emotion with them. I took out all the coloring materials and said GO.
A, as expected, got right into it. Started suggesting what to do.
B had come up from sleeping and was still very tired. Head down. Eyes closed. Never really done that with me before. I questioned myself, maybe it was the exercise - if I had them do something more "fun" maybe she would have been more awake...
Anyhow so C and D just sat there and watched as A got to work. I couldn't let that happen. So I asked what was going on.
C said she was overwhelmed. OK. I gave a little more direction. Strange dynamics. Hard to repeat. But it was tense, uncomfortable and hard to hold as the therapist. I felt like I was juggling in the circus.
D seemed lost. Maybe too much for her. She understands so very little about herself or others. Very limited. Said she was tired. I tried "tired physically or emotionally?" - she just looked at me - "both" she said. Not sure if she understood that?
Tried to just let the process happen. but I couldn't take the tension. A was trying - really really trying - to get the others involved. Very appropriately, I thought. trying to make everyone happy.
And then C wanted to know if R was upset with her.
A asked which direction the pics should be glued down.
NO - actually it started when B and A started just gluing down pictures. C asked what they were doing. She wanted to be more organized. Make a list of the feelings they wanted and then find the pics to go with them. But A said,"What I think is angry, might not look like angry to you, so I thought we would just glue some mixed pictures and then we can all write what we think of that."
I tried to help them all process that.
B stood up and randomly placed some pictures facing the opposite way. It's what she wanted to do. She was expressing herself. I asked C what she felt. She did not want to upset B. In the end, B turned all her pictures around to go the same direction as the rest.
SO here's a question i had as this was happening: If C has an opinion, but B has a different opinion. and A has yet another. How do they all get their needs met? How do they each get their voices heard? I got stuck in that. OK, they compromise. But then how do they feel empowered?
B went the way of giving in and doing the collage the way A and C wanted, said, "I can't be friends with someone who needs perfection." and then drew another picture of a person with a noose and a tree with the word "Unimportent" (spelled that way - poor thing). Because she feels that what she wants isn't important. But, I told her, you gave in. Her response was that she didn't want them to be mad at her. But now no one is happy.
I really got stuck in this.
And C was very clear about how she always gets in the middle of people. She called herself 2-faced. She listens to both sides. And bad mouths one about the other. She knows she does it. She doesn't want anyone not to like her. It's easier, she says, to just agree with everyone. But then, I asked, what happens to you? Her check out word was "escape or disappear". That's what happens. She said her family has said the words, "Who are you to have an opinion." So of course she doesn't have one. We practiced saying, "I'm allowed to have an opinion."
She does not even have the words.
A wouldn't sit down to speak to me. Before group I took her out and said I could see that she was very anxious and to pay attention to what she was feeling. After group she was even worse. I tried to process her feelings with her. I wanted to give her positive feedback to how hard I saw she was trying. But I could not get her to sit down to speak to me. I told her that when A was ready to sit and speak to me and not her ED (eating disorder), I would be happy to speak to her.
Was that ok? It was as if she was possessed!!!! She stood there, as I sat, and said, "I can't sit." THAT was mind boggling to me! Most kids would feel bad and sit. It was as if A wasn't really there. Someone else was in her head and not letting her sit. She said the words, "You burn more calories when you stand." Which really made me see that it was her ED speaking. I tried to say it wasn't true, but knew that wasn't the point and moved on. And she thinks she is ready for outpatient?!?!
It was a hard session for me. I felt overwhelmed. I felt a little unqualified. I felt myself fumbling. I was grabbing at straws. I didn't know which way to go. How to process it all. I can leave what happened there. But I carry a feeling of "What did I do wrong?" What I should have done...
I think that's it.
If I think of anything else...
Did you really just read all this?