“There is a special magic that reveals itself when we allow ourselves to let it all hang out in front of each other.” – Ashley Neese
For those experiencing emotional pain, the idea of being with a group of people and sharing their story may feel overwhelming. Some may downplay their experience, feeling that it’s not comparable to what others may be going through. Others might feel uncomfortable with the idea of talking to strangers about their personal lives. It takes courage to walk in to a room full of people and share your story, but showing up is the hardest part. The benefits can be powerful.
I’m not sure why I shied away from groups for so many years. Maybe it was because of a childhood sting of rejection I never quite forgot, or perhaps it’s because I tend to be more introverted than extroverted. I often find it easier to go for a solo walk or write in a journal than pick up the phone to call someone. Despite these preferences, because of shared interests and a budding career in outreach and community service, I’ve unwittingly found myself in numerous groups over the years. At first I was quiet and afraid of how others would react to what I had to say. I worried about stumbling over my words or letting my emotions overcome me. It took me awhile to feel safe sharing, and I learned that it was also okay to just listen. When I did open up, I felt supported in a way that I hadn’t before. Not only was I able to work through feelings like I was able to when I wrote or played music, I felt that even if no one said anything in response, I was heard. Sometimes it can be all we need to not feel alone and know that there is hope.
The holidays can bring up so many emotions, especially for caregivers. NSCR’s Caregiver Support program is offering a special group on December 21st, called An Evening of Calm & Connection. The group will introduce attendees to gentle relaxation exercises and provide support. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
What have your experiences in groups been like? We’d love to hear from you!
Words and photo by Cassandra Van Dyck