I was unsettled this morning anyway; I had texted my dad asking to talk (that was a big thing); and I had been given permission to drive again (also a big thing). So, yes, I was unsettled. Up and down simultaneously and although it was hard to identify what I was feeling at any particular moment I can say that overall I was distressed. Before DBT I was definitely distressed.
We started with homework feedback. Everyone was tight lipped so I went first. I said I’d founded being one-minded quite easy, because I had. I spoke about being judgemental and steps I took to correct it. The facilitators were quite pleased. Job done. Who’s next?
One after one the others spoke and it pretty much went like this: I haven’t done my homework I’ve had a shit week. Now, in fairness, some people had done bits but everyone, except one, said they hadn’t done it. Shit. They were all in it together. I was not. I had been a good little girl and done my homework and volunteered to speak first. Idiot idiot idiot. But wait a minute – this is who I am. I can’t lie about that. I did the homework because I want to get better, what’s wrong with that? Individually nothing. As part of the collective, everything. Fuck.
Sally wanted us to suggest solutions to the excuses people offered for not doing their homework. I could think of solutions but there was no way I was offering little miss good girl’s insight. Hell no. There was a discussion about confusion over the homework tasks and regrettably I did speak up. I said I was a teacher and gave some ideas for making the homework instructions clearer. After all I do it as part of my job. ‘You’re a teacher?’ someone asked. Well, yes I admitted embarrassed. I’d only been trying to help. ‘Good for you’ the person said. I couldn’t tell if the person was being sarcastic or genuine. I felt so ashamed of how brash I’d been. Ooooh look at me, I know everything, I’m a teacher! Aren’t I so clever? I hated myself. Well that’s not fucking news. I always hate myself. I vowed to keep quiet.
At break time instead of the camaraderie I had experienced last week I felt separated from the group. I sat with them but I was not nodding along. Well, externally I was but internally not so much. I tried to reassure those who were finding it difficult by saying that it was going to take time, that’s why the course is 14 months. Turns out not everyone gets 14 months. Some people only get 7. Well done Trudy you really are on fire today aren’t you? It was like every time I spoke I fucked up.
We went back in. I felt dreadful. Then I found out we were starting the distress tolerance module. Gulp. I need this. Big time. But I can’t face it. There is no choice though. We are introduced to the DBT skills called STOP skills and pros and cons. Sigh. This isn’t relevant to me. I can do this already. I’ve got a pros and cons list upstairs about taking an overdose…I still went out and bought the sodding tablets. STOP skills are about not reacting in the moment. See, now, I plan my reckless impulses. That doesn’t make sense, I know, but I mean, for example, I won’t self-harm when the kids are here. Instead I wait and wait and wait. Then, when I get my chance – boom! So it feels like neither STOP nor pros and cons are very useful to me. The group aren’t focused at all. Some are really frustrated that they can’t grasp the concepts. Others just want to take the piss. I’m fed up.
The facilitator who is leading intervenes with a mindfulness type exercise where we examine our internal emotions as weather. It was awful. Inside me at the minute a great and destructive storm is raging. There is lightning that strikes at trees and rips them apart. Roofs are ripped from buildings by a powerful wind. The rain pelts so hard that it would bruise. This is my internal weather and I don’t want to spend any time in it. In fact I’ve been trying to keep hidden from the weather, deep inside a bunker. Having to pause and acknowledge how I feel is too much. My distress level ratchets up further and I am close to walking out a few times. I didn’t because I didn’t want the attention that walking out would bring.
As the session draws to a close every second feels like an eternity. Get me out of here. Then someone suddenly decides to start mimicking my accent. This is really upsetting. I get this quite a bit as I’m from a different country and I deal with it good humouredly, even although I hate it. I try and get her to stop by joking that’s enough now but she doesn’t. Fuck this is really distressing to me. I don’t want to lose it. I ask her to stop it a final time in what I hope is a more firm, assertive tone. She does. Doesn’t matter though. The damage is done.
I don’t belong here. They all hate me. I sound different. I stand out and they all know it. I feel so foolish for thinking that I could be accepted as a part of any group. I am not a real person and that is why I don’t fit in with real people. That is why I will never fit in this world. I was never supposed to be here.
Well, tough shit I suppose. I’m going to keep turning up and I’m going to keep working at learning the DBT skills. Even if the storm nearly destroys me. There’s always tomorrow and all storms eventually pass.