"Group Therapy"

In the summer of 1997, after I graduated from college, I was accepted into the Counseling program at UNH after taking summer classes. Ever since I was little, I had wanted to be a psychologist. I spent four years of college getting as actively involved in the Psychology program as I could - as a peer educator, president of the crisis intervention center on campus, and numerous other activites. After interviewing and getting accepted to the four graduate schools I applied to, I had some very attractive choices. The program I was most interested in was the Counseling program at Lesley College in Cambridge, but I was only conditionally accepted and I wanted a guaranteed place in a program. I also loved the program at the University of Vermont, and the South Burlington area. However, my feet were firmly glued to the Durham campus. Part of the reason was my family's history there. My Grandfather, Joseph D. Batcheller, was an acclaimed English and Theater Professor at UNH for 43 years, and taught his classes until the day he died. My father went to UNH also, and the Batcheller House on campus was named after my family. So I was following in their footsteps. The other reason I wanted to stay was because I had so many wonderful experiences there, and was not ready to let go yet, even though I know I should have.

There were some excellent teachers in the Counseling program at UNH. My advisor, Angelo, was an idol for me, he had the experience and wisdom that I really wished to gain as a counselor myself. I had a passion for the Rogerian method of counseling and wanted to learn all I could. I thought I could handle anything if it helped me learn more about myself and what I wanted to be.

Group Therapy was a required course that students had to take. It wasn't a course about group therapy, it was group therapy. The course was ingeniously designed to get your issues out on the table. If you had problems, they needed to be discussed, in the open and in front of everyone. If you weren't ready to talk, it meant that you were not ready to be a counselor.

I spent most of the semester listening. I watched my fellow classmates share everything. It was ok to play the role of counselor in these classes, but not the whole time. There was an equilibrium to be kept, an equal give and take of sharing and helping. I watched people make transformations - and realizing what they wanted out of life and their career. I watched constrained people become unleashed, and better people.

I was confronted, and found my comfortable role as listener turn into something much more difficult. All eyes were on me, as people asked what was going on with me. First gentle nudging, then violent shoving. Figuratively. Something inside was asking me what the hell my problem was. I could tell anyone anything, why couldn't I say anything here? Because that would make it official. I was not cut out to be there.

The floodgates opened, but not enough. I cried, and curled myself up into a ball of disaster. I was a mess. And although everyone could see it, I was too ashamed to admit it. In my mind, I was saying what I wanted to say, but I couldn't say it out loud. I could have talked about being raped, or the death of my young aunt, or my twin sister's attempted suicides, or recently falling out with someone I was very much in love with, or having an abortion, or my father's alcoholism and my parents' divorce. I wasn't lacking topics, I had many. I would have been fun to analyze and diagnose. But I couldn't open up. And if I couldn't do that, I couldn't help someone else do the same.

There's nothing like losing your dream, to make you realize you're not who you thought you were. I could have stayed in the program and tried to finish my classes and graduate. But I knew that wasn't the right thing to do. I tried to hold on to my dream, again grasping at straws in my life to fill a void. I backed out, not gracefully, but accepted my defeat. Until I was ready to open up, I couldn't expect anyone to do that in front of me. I felt that giving up my dream was the unselfish way to go. I gave myself a wake-up call, which later prompted me to deal with my issues on my own terms.

What do I do now? I spent many years of my life focusing on my dream. I am still trying to figure out why I am here and what my purpose is. I am one of the wanderers in this life, searching. One of the reasons I am no longer a spiritual seeker is that I know that no higher being can solve my problems for me. Nor can they give me any of the answers I'm searching for. I can't wait for the clouds to open up, and a loud booming voice to tell me where to go and what to do. I can only do that for myself.

Continue on the journey