Dear Reader,
I was especially touched by the poetry submissions I received for this newsletter. This form so aptly captures the many layers and facets that group work offers from anxiety and discontent to acceptance and the satisfaction that true inclusion can foster. Enjoy!

A Facilitator’s Tale
(Once Upon an Institute)

There is always a breath.
It begins there—looking out upon the circle of chairs, the list of names, the kleenex box,
and we sit in a circle of silence,
that roar of silence, silence of the unknown,
the unknowable. Some want Magic.
Some want Healing. Some want greater
awareness. Some come late, some come early.

We, the leaders, are like Trapeze artists, simultaneously charged with letting go and holding on, catching, hoping not to drop anyone from falling down, falling in. We are their safety net. Will it hold?

The curtain rises,
An inner voice: “If you fail, do it graciously.
Disappoint optimally.” Access Kohut,
access Yalom. Bette Davis? Why is SHE showing up — Oh, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.” Several Mis-atunements as we err on both sides
of the slippery slopes of intimacy.
Slow us down. Speed it up.
Deepen. Breathe.

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall,
Will we stumble? Will we fall?
Allow their disappointments. But is there is too much to repair in 2 days? And who can heal from the Election? How does that hover?

Yet, yet… the magic happens, in spite of log jams. Some of them seem happy! Some of them whisper, “This was a good institute, thank you!”
We pass around the email list.

Slowly, they say their Goodbyes, the room empties. The chairs look a little forlorn.
It’s New York. It’s cold out.
The Forever After meets Once Upon a Time.

Time to put on another hat.
On the airplane home, I’m singing songs to myself, tunes I’ve remembered float up, like a caress.

Jim Fishman, LCSW, CGP


Exquisite Exclusion

“Pick me, pick me!”
my internal cry.
The cry of the 6-year-old on the playground, the 23-year-old at a dance;
the 33-year-old in a mother’s group;
the 48-year-old in a work group;
the 54-year-old here, now.
Doing this stupid nonverbal
psychodrama exercise,
selecting someone you’d date.

Knowing I have to pick,
(feeling guilty and uneasy).
Noticing I’m not being picked–
(not by the ones I want).

The drama of your sad, lonely life.
That isn’t that at all
(no longer).
Rejected, excluded, exquisitely alone…
Feeling it in my body, the memories and phantasies —
like shards.

And we sit down to process.
I express the feelings
and they leave.

It’s not my truth now.
It’s okay now.

But a few minutes ago,
it wasn’t.

Edna Wallace, LMFT, CGP


Awash in Dreams

Swimming through a dream towards you
I feel your hands searching my body.
Little whirlpools of sensation spiral along my spine as The currents push me downward, deeper.

Using the sound of your breathing to navigate I move, undulating with the current,
Towards you and the light.

You are everywhere and I am lost. Filled with a painful longing,
I need you to find me and
bathe me in ripples of warm water And, yes, fill me with air please, that I might breathe again.

You are my dreams, the source of all feelings.
You are the lighthouse, sending out signals in sound and light
to help me find my way through cold seas.
You are the very breath of life to me and
Without you I am lost,
Awash in dreams

Alice Sklar, MFT, CGP

©Northern California Group Psychotherapy Society. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint articles must be obtained in writing from NCGPS. Opinions or claims expressed in articles do not necessarily reflect those of NCGPS.


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