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Until recently, I was never a big fan of support groups. I used to think they were just comprised of a bunch of high-maintenance people sitting around pissing and moaning about the small, insignificant problems they have in their lives: “I can’t find a decent pair of heels to match my burnt orange Hermes bag” “My bottled water never seems to stay cold enough during the day” “My pets aren’t being properly groomed at the doggie spa, I’m thinking of suing.” The “first world problems” folks.

But lately, it seems like I keep uncovering little nuggets of buried issues that I didn’t even know existed. Each time another shifts up to the surface, I think “I bet there’s a group for that.” and I hop onto the internet to check if there are any support groups within a two-mile radius of my house (because I’m not spending 45 minutes of my time driving clear to the other side of town just to hear a bunch of people drag me down with their problems). If I want to be dragged down or caught up in the swirling tides of emotional release, it better be close enough to a coffee shop and my warm bed waiting for me to crawl back into and curl up into a fetal position.

Fortunately, each of the support (interest) groups has met my criteria for self discovery: one group takes place at the Tim Horton’s down the street, and the other meets at my local library. I don’t believe this was a godsend for me, because I don’t believe in a god, but I do believe that this happened because there are a lot more people out there with similar interests and/or issues to address. That makes me feel better and less likely to sit at home and get all my advice from repeat episodes of Dr. Phil.

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The first group I joined isn’t really a support group. It’s a writer’s group. Why do I classify it as a support group then? It’s very simple: writing helps me work through the issues I have uncovered. For me, it is much easier to sit down at a computer and let my mind unhinge and purge itself of whatever I happen to be thinking at that time. In fact, as I type this, I have no idea where my writing will lead me. I just know something enlightening and illuminating is unfolding before my eyes.

My writer’s workshop is a small one, and we meet locally over donuts and coffee just to go over our latest writings and share them with others who are kind enough to laugh, smile, cringe, or rage with us as we read our words out loud. In a way, it’s like a form of therapy, but without the standby boxes of tissues.

This past Sunday, a couple of positive things came out of this group: one, I’ve decided I’m going to force myself to write more. There is a 50,000 word writing challenge staring me in the face. The competition (?) is called NANOWRIMO. I wasn’t planning on participating in it, as 50,000 words in a month sounds like a novel, and I don’t have the focus to write a novel. Never have, never will. I’m perfectly content with short stories, opinion pieces and poetry. But, the folks in the group helped me do the math, and it appears I only have to write a little over 1,000 words per day. On a good day with a great topic I can bang out 1,000 words in about a half hour. On a great day I can write much more than that. So, challenge accepted.

The second benefit of joining the writer’s group was a sense of belonging. I’ve always loved to write but never had much of an audience for it. I love to blog and put things out there to the world, but I’ve never had my real life friends come to me and say “HEY, how about you read me your latest pearls of wisdom? I don’t have anything more important to do.” It just doesn’t work that way. But with my writer’s workshop, I know the people love to write as much as I do, and they like to share as much as I do, so it’s a win-win all the way around. Plus, I get to put my active, weird imagination to work when I am asked to submit some really off-kilter writing prompts. This past week’s was “What’s that doing up in there?” As you can see from my eggplant and toothbrush stories, that’s where my muse took that idea.

Lastly, the writing allows me to take risks I wouldn’t (perhaps shouldn’t) normally take. I can be as rude, crude and offensive as I want with the characters and story lines I create. I can be a genius or a moron, virginal or slutty, prim and proper or a raging swearaholic. That’s the beauty of being able to escape into my mind and let my id take me to places my super ego won’t.

As important my writing has become to me, it is only a small part of the other healing I need to do. As I wrote in an earlier post, I had a baby boy I placed for adoption when I was nineteen. Many years of self-imposed silence and shame have done some pretty big emotional damage. Determined to unload this shame, I’ve decided to come out from behind the curtain and openly discuss all I went through with others who have gone through similar circumstances.

I had my “aha” moment in my therapist’s office yesterday: I was never provided with a support system back then. The group I ended up belonging to were a group of teenage moms planning to keep their children. While sitting in these support group meetings, they would exchange thoughts, fears and feelings about what it will be like to raise a child at such a young age: Will they be able to finish high school? Will they be able to afford a baby? Will they be able to get a job?

All these questions didn’t apply to me. I was an island, sitting alone in a sea of baby blankets, booties and baby supplies as the mothers-to-be bonded and exchanged worries of teenage motherhood. What I needed back then was to be part of a group of teenage birth moms about to surrender their children for adoption. I needed to know I wasn’t alone in this, that my decision was self-LESS rather than self-ISH. I needed someone, anyone, to tell me that I wasn’t “giving my baby away because I didn’t want to deal with it”.

It hit my therapist and me at the same time: I need to find a local support group to further my steps towards healing. The opportunity to meet with others with similar stories to tell, in all phases of recovery and healing, could be the final piece of the puzzle that has been missing for my entire adult life.

I came home and immediately went to my trusty friend, Google, to help me find a group. And, lo and behold, there is a local meeting coming up in November that, again, is less than two miles from my home. Excitedly, I emailed the workshop organizer and gave a quick bio on me, and asked if I could register. What I didn’t expect was her amazingly supportive, concerned response. It was so heartwarming and nonjudgmental, I started to cry. She even offered me her personal phone number and said if I needed to talk before hand, not to hesitate and give her a call.

Finally, I’ve found groups of people who are more than happy to accept me for who I am, weirdness and all.

Take that, religion.

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Comments
  1. I’m still searching but perhaps, I can instead start my own…

    As usual, your post has given me a ray of hope 🙂

    Like

  2. borda7 says:

    as you described connecting, it’s the connection for sure that humans require. The connection of belonging, maybe not in each and every way, but at least in part, yet authentic, natural & without judgement or shame etc. I am happy that you found that-and that’s why I joined. But those writers can surely be a strange bunch.

    Like

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