|"Episode 10: The women’s group" |
|"Episode 10a: Continuing our new online series – Will has further cause to question his views on women" |
|"Episode nine: The past is always present" |
|"Episode eight: Jasmin returns" |
|"Episode 14: Being a grown-up" |
|"Back in the supervision group" |
The Wednesday group: episode 11
Everyone is here this week – that hasn’t happened for a while. I am shocked by Martin. Not only has he shaved off his beard and had a very short haircut; he is wearing a bright red jumper. He reminds me of a tomato. Julia, on the other hand, has turned up in jeans but still manages to look elegant.
Martin starts by saying there’s probably no point in asking what happened last time, as no one ever tells him. ‘We’ve been talking about men and violence,’ I say, and he snorts. Julia is onto him straight away.
‘Why do you laugh?’
‘I’m not exactly laughing,’ he says. ‘It just seems ironic that the week when I am smashing up the shed you lot were talking about violence. I felt pretty violent, I can tell you!’
Apparently Martin had decided that there was no point in coming to the group if he and Mary weren’t working on their relationship together, so instead he took an axe to the shed. ‘It was due to come down anyway.’ This was triggered by Mary’s admission that she ‘had feelings’ about the archaeologist. When he talks to us about betrayal, I understand completely and I see Will is nodding too.
I ask what exactly ‘having feelings’ means. Is it an affair? ‘Nothing physical, or so she says. We had one of our worst ever weeks, and then at the weekend she seemed to change and actually apologised. That’s the first time in years that it hasn’t all been my fault!’
Suzy says that he looks different and Martin smiles. ‘This is the new sexy version – what do you think?’ I don’t mention the tomato. Suzy smiles but doesn’t answer. Instead she turns to Roz to ask how things are with Leo, her son. Roz explains to Martin and Will that Leo has been threatening her and stealing money and Julia wants to know why he is so angry with her.
‘A lot of it is down to Gordon, his father. He has never forgiven me for leaving him for Josie. He feels betrayed too. I think he sees it as some sort of sexual humiliation that I should find a woman more attractive than him. It was hard enough for Leo when we split up, but he had always got on really well with Josie. I think Gordon has fed him lot of poisonous homophobic messages, and put him under pressure to “be a man” – that sort of rubbish!’
‘Ah, I have only just realised that you are with a woman,’ says Julia. ‘It was not clear to me but now I see why your son is so disturbed!’ Roz looks pretty disturbed too. I feel suddenly angry with Julia.
‘It’s a terrible age. Hormones kicking off, wanking all the time – sorry, but that’s how it is. He’ll get through it, Roz. Might turn out to be gay himself, who knows!’
Roz blows her nose. ‘Is that supposed to be helpful, Martin?’
Julia has lost interest and is admiring her perfectly manicured nails. Suzy must have noticed because she asks her how her ‘date’ went after last week’s group.
‘I refused to go back to the hotel after the meal. He told me that I was unwell and not myself and paid for a taxi to take me all the way back to my home. He has sent me a big bunch of roses with a Get Well Soon card. He is being so kind and I miss him terribly. But this time I am going to be strong!’
‘You do look a bit under the weather,’ says Martin, who hasn’t a clue what is going on.
‘Julia is trying to leave an abusive relationship,’ Suzy informs him briskly.
‘Oh, is she?’ He sounds surprised.
I can’t get my head round ‘Julia the victim’ either, but there’s no way I’m saying that out loud. She’d take me apart, I’m sure. I look up from my shoes and find Kate looking directly at me. Then she looks at Jasmin. ‘We have been very caught up in some dramatic stories tonight. I wonder what is going on with the quieter group members.’
We all sit in silence. Roz then says that she has been quiet for weeks and it didn’t help at all – that just talking out loud about Leo has made her see things from a different angle. Julia adds that she too is hoping to get some benefit from telling the group about her relationship, but the way she says it implies that she doesn’t hold out much hope. I feel we’re already a disappointment to her.
‘It isn’t only about us helping you. The group only works when we do something together, I think.’ Jasmin speaks quietly but it has a big impact, especially on me. I think that Julia wants us to listen to her and to look after her but isn’t really interested in us. She wants to be the centre of all our attention and sulks once the spotlight passes to someone else. Is that what I do? I suddenly feel my stomach roll over.
Copyright Chris Rose
Chris Rose is a group psychotherapist, supervisor and author.
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