Group Therapy & Finding My Fab 6
When offered the opportunity to attend Evoke's Finding You Intensive, I was swept up with excitement. I speak about this program daily, I hear others' glowing feedback about it, my friends and colleagues have explained it as a life changing experience, and I’ve listened to Dr. Brad Reedy recommend it time and time again on his podcast. I was all smiles, until it hit me, this is group therapy. And my heart began to sink into my stomach. Prior to this intensive I’d attended regular therapy sessions but doing a deep dive into my personal work, with strangers watching me, is far from my comfort zone!
My anxiety spiked knowing I keep the real, authentic Becci held closely to my chest. I am largely an introvert; I work remote. I’m a dancer/yogi not a group sport kinda girl. I have a small group of friends, and I struggle in social groups. I began to worry that I wasn’t the type of person who can gain the most from this experience. To add another layer onto this anxiety cake, the clinicians facilitating my Intensive were my colleagues and friends, and I had also enrolled the other attending participants. So, to protect myself, I created an invisible “vulnerability line” in my mind of what I was willing to share.
Fast forward to my arrival at the Intensive house: We began the session by outlining our personal and group boundaries to create a safe space to share. To quote my journal entry from the first day, “Once my body recognized the space was safe, my restrictions faded away, my breath returned. I want to be brave and step in.” By lunchtime on the second day my vulnerability line was out the window--I had jumped into the space and it was raw and real.
My boundaries were respected, there was no advice giving, no one tried to rescue me, they let me sit in the pain, the ugly, and the triumph. Through the sharing of the others' work, I was able to relate to my own work, emotions, relationships, and communication. As I witnessed another group member shed a layer of protection, I too gained the strength to dive deeper. The beauty and nervousness to be invited to play a role in another’s work is hard to put into words. It required care, attention, focus, and honesty. It was equally consuming to experience feeling completely seen and heard by the individuals playing the different roles within my own work. The room and the four walls around us fell away; I felt everything so deeply and truly because of the space that was being held for me. I could now understand Dr. Brad Reedy’s words that strangers can help you heal. Family is too attached, they want to fix you. Strangers don’t care what the end result is, they let you be you.
The group setting provided the connection and a community I needed to release self-judgment, let go of control, and drop into my trauma. My group held a space for me to reveal my “horrible rotten Self” and not be terrified by it. I was resistant to connecting with my inner child but when I saw others' courage to invite their younger Self into the room, it empowered me to do the same. As I stepped into others psychodramas and played roles within their family system, I began to explore my own parts and accessed a deeper consciousness. I have yet to achieve this depth in my work when attending individual therapy. I typically get caught up in ego, control and expectation, and end up limiting my Self and never expose my true childhood wounds to begin recognizing and healing my Self. I am still taken aback by what I was able to access in this space and it was the group setting that made it all possible.
We were wildly different people, with different backgrounds, circumstances, lives, jobs, and interests. Yet in every piece of work that we shared, each of us were able to relate to one another. Underneath our varying identities, we all found a common ground within our emotions. It was both relieving and normalizing to recognize that others shared my same experiences.
Outside of the therapy space we ate meals together, we went on evening walks, swapped stories of our families and loved ones, and honored the need to also have time alone. We weren’t distracted by our phones or laptops and gave one another our full attention. We grew very close over our 4.5-day experience and when it came to the last day, it felt sad and strange to be leaving one another. As we were packing up to go, we were handed our envelopes which contained personal notes the other participants had written to each of us over the course of the Intensive. I couldn’t open it at the house. Later, I sat on the plane, pulled it out, and cried. This envelope has a space on my desk and is the thing I reach for and open on a tough day.
I took a huge amount away from my Finding You experience but finding my Fab 6 (the name we decided to give ourselves) was the most surprising. Today we have a group text and reach out to one another sharing a photo, a memory, an update, a tough day or celebration. It is comforting knowing they have a deep understanding of who I am and I can share things knowing there is no judgment or expectation. I now have another support system to reach out to. Thank you, Fab 6!
Posted by Melanie Prager
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