Episode 13: Loving and hating
I’m not sure this group is doing me any good. I’m just going to sit and watch with my mouth shut this week. Roz can pick a fight with somebody else. Martin and Julia are the obvious candidates, but neither of them is here. Kate tells us Julia is working in Germany but she has no news of Martin. He was quite subdued last week so I hope he’s OK. As for Julia, she is just a waste of a group place.
We kick off with Suzy, who brings us up to date on the ‘Two Geoffs’ story.
‘After last week, I went home and made him sit down and listen to me. I even told him some of the awful things that Geoff did that I have never told anyone in my life. Look’ – she suddenly rolls up the sleeve of her shirt and shows us a horrible burn scar on her forearm – ‘He did that that with the iron. I’ve always told people it was an accident, but it was him. He threatened to iron my breasts as well.’
‘Pig!’ says Roz.
I flinch and look down. I’ve always been squeamish.
‘Yes, anyway, I finally convinced Geoffrey that it was serious, and he says he won’t let Geoff come between us anymore. He’s a good man really.’
‘But it sounds as if you had to do a lot of persuading,’ says Roz.
Will is on the case too. ‘Suzy, I wonder why you tell us that Geoffrey is “a good man really”. I noticed last week that you talked about these two men in very polarised terms, as the Good Geoff and the Bad Geoff.’
I see that Kate nods and know that I need to pay attention.
‘Well, that’s how they are. I don’t know what you are trying to say, Will.’
‘If he is such a good, kind man, why do you have to work so hard to make him see your point of view? That’s what Will is getting at,’ says Roz.
I am not joining in but I can see where Roz and Will are coming from. Suzy must be able to as well because her voice is getting higher and higher.
‘If you’re a good person, it’s hard to see the wickedness in others,’ she squeaks.
There is an awkward silence, until Jasmin suddenly says, ‘We want the people that we love to be good people.’
Suzy nods and bursts into tears. Roz passes her the tissues and we all sit in silence. Then I notice that Roz’s eyes are full of tears too. She sees me looking at her and glances away. Kate has spotted it too, and invites her to tell us what is going on.
‘I don’t want to take this away from Suzy.’
‘No, no – you go ahead. I’ve had my turn.’
‘I was thinking about Leo. Like Jasmin said, I want to believe he is a good person because I love him. But he is such a shit!’ She spits this out, upset and angry, but quickly gets it under control. Then she describes a meeting with Leo and his Youth Offending Team where she had to sit and listen to a torrent of abuse from him. In the end she walked out, and then got a vitriolic phone call from Gordon telling her what a terrible mother she was.
‘When the kids were little I would always say that I loved them but could hate what they were doing. I want to still believe that but maybe I am just fooling myself now. Leo is so hateful – literally, full of hatred towards me, and it’s hard to believe there’s anything good left inside him.’
‘But he is still only 15, Roz,’ says Suzy, less squeaky now.
‘Perhaps my mother felt the same way about my brother,’ says Jasmin. ‘But all she would ever say was “He’ll grow out of it”, even when my sister and I would tell her the bad things that he did and how scared we were of him.’
‘It’s a difficult balance, isn’t it?’ says Kate. ‘We need to hold onto our love and our hope for people, and at the same time we need to face up to some difficult truths.’
Suzy sighs, and then there is silence. I am thinking about Brendan and all those months when I knew deep down that he was cheating on me but I made excuses for him because I couldn’t bear to face the truth. He told me afterwards that he was frightened to tell me in case I went to pieces. What did he expect?
‘Before we finish, I would like to tell the group of some change in my situation, if I may?’
‘If I may!!’ snorts Roz.
‘Go on, Will’, says Suzy.
‘I have noticed over the last two weeks that Jacqueline is behaving differently. She spends more time in the house and, although she goes out most evenings, I have heard her creeping back in the early hours of the morning. I have also picked up three phone messages on the landline about her evening arrangements. This is in itself unusual, but also these are messages from women friends. I am imagining that something has happened in the great romance. I recognise that there is no time to explore this further tonight, but perhaps we could come back to it next week.’
© Chris Rose
Chris Rose is a group psychotherapist, supervisor and author.
Click on ‘related articles’ to read more about the Wednesday Group.
© British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy 2011.