Foreign Body

May 09, 2006

When I was still active in the martial arts we had a saying to describe those people who joined, attended a few classes and then stopped coming to the dojo. We said that the dojo was an organism, and like all living organisms it rejected that which was foreign. This was not to say that the people who tried karate for a few weeks and then stopped were in any way bad or less than, it was merely a verbal shorthand to recognize that not all people fit into all situations; that there are times when you feel like you belong and times when you don't.

For several weeks now I have been attending two different suicide support groups. The first one I discovered is located about forty minutes drive from where I live, the second one is much closer; perhaps only ten minutes away. While I felt immediately connected and welcome at the first group, I have never felt entirely comfortable at the second. It's nothing specific I can put my finger on, but I am never satisfied after attending group two the way I am after being at group one. Each group has it's own flavor, distilled from the values, ideas, emotions, and verbalization's brought to the group by its members.

Knowing that groups are living organisms I understand that in the case of the second group I am the foreign body, and that the organism is rejecting me. Not the people, but the sum of the group's attitudes towards suicide, grief, and the road back towards sanity. I compounded this issue by allowing myself to become involved in the larger mechanics of the organization behind the group. I'm not at all ready for commitments like creating a website for the group. Further I feel it creates a "dual relationship" for me as the driving members of the organization are the group moderators. I need for the group to be just the group, not the group and the organization. I didn't attend the meeting two weeks ago, largely because of my outstanding commitment to the organization, and I am already planning on not attending this evening for the same reason. Allowing the organization to interfere with my return to better mental health is not a good idea.

So I have contacted the group/organization leader and withdrawn my support for creating a website for the organization. Having at least acknowledged this part of my reluctance to attend is a good step forward. Now I can focus on whether I truly feel good about being a member of the group and decide to continue attending, or not, based solely on how my emotional needs are being met.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.