I have never been interested in even thinking about taking part in any sort of group therapy. It really just is not my scene – the thought of opening up to a group of strangers left me cold. However, a friend of mine who has struggled for years with alcohol and who had attended AA on some occasions, took a turn for the worse, drinking heavily during December of last year. She was lucky enough to have a very supportive husband and also fortunately was able to afford some private care and in a moment of sobriety agreed to go into The Priory where she stayed for a month. It quickly became clear that she embraced their ‘treatment’ which included attending AA and this time she really felt that it was making a difference. She said on several occasions that she wished that there was something similar for me – I remember thinking no way!
Some weeks later, my psychologist mentioned a group for people who had been affected by issues of the past like me, that was to run for 10 weeks. She was to one of the facilitators. I know I would not have gone if she wasn’t going to be there and if I’d not been so impressed by my alcoholic friend’s take on being in a group. With great trepidation I went along. We were to be a group of 6 with 2 facilitators and participants could drop out, but there would be no new members over the 10 weeks.
We were all pretty quiet the first few weeks apart from one girl who spoke out so well about the issues she had. She seemed so ‘sorted’ that I found myself wondering why she needed to be there, yet know I that she was there because she needed help. Yet another lesson in not judging a book by its cover. We have met for 8 weeks since and although we have dropped to 4, (sadly, for me, the girl who was so open with us has got a job and can no longer attend), I always come away relieved that being with others with similar issues has shown me that my reactions to specific events are ‘normal’. This has helped me hugely. Like many, I’m incredibly hard on myself at times, but can forgive the same behaviour in others. It really helps to hear how the others have dealt with problems and just life in general. We have now agreed that we will go on meeting for another five weeks. It has never been the intention for it to run indefinitely but it will be good to have more time to explore issues within the safety of the group. Even I am beginning to speak out!
Oh yes, my alcoholic friend has been dry since January and still attends AA twice weekly. She says that this time she feels differently and really hopes that she has conquered her illness with such good support.