I just passed the three-month commitment mark in my new Healing Shame for Women group, and no one has made a sound about leaving. Just last night my most recalcitrant group member said, “I don’t understand what exactly we do here, but something in me is changing.” Another group member wants to know if there’s a possibility of meeting twice a week. This is something to celebrate.
I had a very hard time getting this group up and running. There were several false starts; a lot of women who could only join if I changed the day or the time or made it drop-in, or let them come for free. Some of my therapist friends suggested that maybe I should change the title of the group to something a little less…challenging, maybe leave out the word “Shame.” But that still, small voice within kept saying, “I want a group of women who know what they are signing up for.”
From my first Healing Shame® training in Berkeley all the way through certification, I felt the pull to bring this work to the general public, especially to women in groups. It took me about nine months to bring this dream to reality. And then I ran headlong into my own shame.
The irony is not lost on me. I am running a Healing Shame for Women group, and no sooner do I get five brave women willing to commit to three months of talking about this most vulnerable of topics when my own vulnerability comes down on me like a sledgehammer. That first night I could barely talk. I couldn’t coordinate the credit card reader. I remember thinking “My lips are actually quivering! I’ve lost control of my face!!!”
My Healing Shame® mentor told me I was having a huge somatic counter-transference to the group. This was right around the time of the NCGPS Institute. Dealing with this somatic counter-transference along with breaking my family-of-origin rules, plus daring to GET BIG became the centerpiece of my work that weekend.
My work in my Institute group felt explosive: earth-shattering. I am so grateful to every single one of you in my group, as well as those who sat with me at mealtimes listening to me trying to make sense of what was happening. My dream was turning into a nightmare, and it was my group members who helped me deconstruct it and turn it into something I could hold.
I’ve felt solid for a while now and so, apparently, does my Healing Shame group. I know there will be more challenges, but I feel seated and ready to meet them. I am adding two new members at the end of this month, and the group is now actually full.
A big thank you to everyone who supported me through this amazing, growth-enhancing transition. It truly does take a village!
Joan Gold, M.A., is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Certified Gestalt Therapist and Certified Healing Shame Practitioner specializing in individual and group therapy in Berkeley and Walnut Creek. In addition to her work as a therapist, Joan is also a professional writer, educator and public speaker. www.EastBayHolisticTherapy.com