Support groups with women

MACH123

Registrant
So I just made a call and here go again men only. I'm going to have to work for it I guess. It plays to all my feelings about rejection and I feel like I'm having to explain it to people who are supposed to know. They don't. I'm part of a "population" that feels exactly like I do and for the same reasons and it's being overlooked or has been traditionally.
 
...I have to have women involved though. I seriously don't do any male only things and never have since I realized. I just want to start yelling when people try and tell me about male only things even the therapist and this is one of the big hurdles.
I was in a year long program some years ago and at a meeting for all participants one guy stood up and said he wouldn't feel comfortable with the process unless there was a men's group that he could turn to for support. There were 51 participants, 8 of whom were men. I felt my stomach tighten since the last thing in the world that interested me was to be in a room with seven other men talking about life or feelings or anything, expect perhaps football. I realized, of course, that if I didn't attend the meeting I'd get a great deal of attention I didn't want... so I attended. What happened proved to be an epiphany. The group was a place of healing for me and we continued meeting for two years after the year long program ended. Later, with one of the men from that group I formed a men's group that met for a couple of years. I also joined a 12 Step fellowship and much preferred attending men's meetings.

That first group happened before I remembered sexual abuse at the hands of neighbor boys and men. I believe I was harboring fear of men all along and that was what my reluctance had been. I'm glad I had those experiences however, because I learned not all men are assholes. Eventually I felt more comfortable with men than with the hoards of women I always surrounded myself with. Now in OA I'm definitely in the minority and have developed really close relationships with a number of women. Having been traumatized by both men and women, I'm grateful I've done enough healing that I can engage with both genders. I'm still not interested in spending time with jerks, however. Healing doesn't mean abandoning myself anywhere in my life.
 

MACH123

Registrant
I was in a year long program some years ago and at a meeting for all participants one guy stood up and said he wouldn't feel comfortable with the process unless there was a men's group that he could turn to for support. There were 51 participants, 8 of whom were men. I felt my stomach tighten since the last thing in the world that interested me was to be in a room with seven other men talking about life or feelings or anything, expect perhaps football. I realized, of course, that if I didn't attend the meeting I'd get a great deal of attention I didn't want... so I attended. What happened proved to be an epiphany. The group was a place of healing for me and we continued meeting for two years after the year long program ended. Later, with one of the men from that group I formed a men's group that met for a couple of years. I also joined a 12 Step fellowship and much preferred attending men's meetings.

That first group happened before I remembered sexual abuse at the hands of neighbor boys and men. I believe I was harboring fear of men all along and that was what my reluctance had been. I'm glad I had those experiences however, because I learned not all men are assholes. Eventually I felt more comfortable with men than with the hoards of women I always surrounded myself with. Now in OA I'm definitely in the minority and have developed really close relationships with a number of women. Having been traumatized by both men and women, I'm grateful I've done enough healing that I can engage with both genders. I'm still not interested in spending time with jerks, however. Healing doesn't mean abandoning myself anywhere in my life.
I get all that but it's not me. I belong to a group and you just invalidated what I said or my feelings. I'm sure you'll say you didn't but you did.

I understand it's well intentioned. You have to accept that you can't just go sticking people in convenient groups. You did in effect what I was bitching about lol.
 
Certainly didn't intend to invalidate anything you said MACH, but if you feel that way I apologize. I thought I was joining you AND sharing what my experience was from that point forward. I guess we're not all the same...
 

MACH123

Registrant
No we're not and it's fine and really, that's just about what everyone does. But these guys are talking about mixed groups and I'm excited because it's a thing I might be able to do.
 
I met today with a woman from OA to discuss creating a new meeting that focuses on trauma, something I've mentioned above. We've seen each other in meetings for over ten years so though we're not close there is a certain familiarity. She told me that she has only talked with two men about her abuse, her analyst and her ex-husband, before sharing with me. She said she is comfortable collaborating with me and I'm fine working with her. She did say that among women with whom she's spoken about this proposed meeting, there is some discomfort with the fact men will participate. I'll likely get a pass because of my presence at OA for so long, and that might make it easier for them to accommodate other men. We're still in the planning stage. I hope we can pull it off. It is clear that the meeting will not have a primary focus on the sexual abuse, but rather on how trauma affects our lives, beginning with a distorted relationship with food. I'm glad that we can talk generally about trauma at a 12 Step meeting without calling it an "outside issue."
 

Chris4TheMill

Registrant
I've attended 2 different mixed gender support groups dealing with sexual issues. They were fine for the most part. The only alarming thing I saw was one day when a young woman (who ironically I ended up later working with!) went on an angry rant against men and said how she wanted to castrate any who hurt her in any way.

Scarier still, after she moved away, I found out she got married. I am still worried for her husband! My impression of her was that she needed a lot of help dealing with her anger, but she didn't stay in the group long at all.
 
The only alarming thing I saw was one day when a young woman (who ironically I ended up later working with!) went on an angry rant against men and said how she wanted to castrate any who hurt her in any way.
Horrifying, @Chris4TheMill. The moderators didn't stop it? None of the men said anything to her? If that happened in my group, I'm very confident the moderators would say something ... and if they didn't, I sure would.
 

Chris4TheMill

Registrant
Great question. No, no one said anything to her that I recall. My head space at the time was not one where I would have said anything. Today however, I would not hesitate. I've since called women out in public spaces when they were openly trash-talking against men, I am not afraid of them any longer.
 
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HI Strangeways,
Seeing as I was sexually abused and assaulted by my ex-wife, I'm somewhat skeptical about sharing a group with women.
Thoughts and opinions welcome. Has anyone else been to mixed support groups?
I've run into trouble with this dynamic recently too. My history is challenging as the childhood abuse came primarily through my mother. It was quite subtle. So the infant in me still craves cuddles and gets triggered rather powerfully with even the subtlest of cues around the normal mating game with women. Men's groups can trigger me as well with their lack of interest in physically nurturing support and an identity that shames weakness (infants are inherently weak and powerless especially with regards to their mothers).

I know that positive engagement with supportive social environments is good for me. So when I see a possibility I go for it. Death Cafe seemed like such a possibility for me recently. The first few events I attended went well for me. I got in touch with some deeply rooted pain around the effect the deaths in my mother's life when I was very young had on me. The most recent cafe, however didn't go so well. I got cut off by the facilitator for a reason that didn't make alot of sense to me. I had a rather intense connection with a woman that ended up being triggering for me.

In the end I realized that the venue isn't adequate for me without an objective that is more closely tied to healing trauma. So I wrote the facilitators to see if this was in their plans for future events. I also think that a focus on bodily responses to trauma would be helpful.

The intense connection with the woman felt to me like I was on the receiving end of someone who wanted to dominate me and include me in her relationship dream. She said she taught meditation and her eyes were attractive and calm. She was very strong on the importance of spiritual practice. This is something with which I struggle and feel some shame. Later I thought I would have been better served to mention that my spiritual practice is trauma healing. That might have got me some common ground or exposed our differences. At least I could have asked for support with my needs rather than feeling I was the target of a controlling woman.

I wish I could find a more helpful group locally. I am in the process of exploring a Men's Trauma Recovery Group. Hopefully that will go better.

Live and learn!

Sincerely, Garth
 

MACH123

Registrant
So I looked up the ACSA website and I'll look into it. I stopped at the place today where I'd ask them to let me start a meeting.

There is a survivor that works there I know him from 12 steps so one known him for thirty years. We had spoken about it in the past and I was hanging around him a little a few years back but everything with him had to be 12 steps.

It was nice to see him no awkwardness at all. He said they had an ACOA meeting men only on Thursday nights that dealt with "all that." But I don't do men's groups and I don't do 12 steps.

So I'm not expecting anything from him but the place is run by like fransciscans and if I can get a facilitator we will see. I wouldn't expect to do it without at least one professional person. It's a beautiful place right near here. I tried to find a YWCA but there are none around here anymore.

IDK if anything will come of it but I took action, I had to get out of the car and talk to another person lol. My therapist was not at all warm and fuzzy when I mentioned it last week.

But I'm going to look into it and try and contact someone from that website and we will see.
 
Great job, @MACH123. I hope you can get a group together and it's as helpful to you as mine has been for me.
I'm delighted for you that this has come together and has proved helpful. The special focus Overeaters Anonymous group has the title "Childhood Trauma and Its Impact" and will have its first meeting the middle of October. I'm looking forward to it, though trauma will always be held in such a meeting in the context of our eating behaviors rather than simply the focus of the meeting. I know that I'll frame compulsive food behaviors, whether overeating or restricting as totally grounded in trauma. Using 12 Step language about disease and craving completely misses the fundamental relationship between trauma and addiction. All of that said, I'd prefer to be attending your group and focusing exclusively on trauma. For that I'll need to use this website and the new therapist with whom I begin work next Tuesday. But I'm definitely happy for what you've created for yourself.
 

MACH123

Registrant
There is one thing I don't like about all this and that's identifying as a survivor publicly and that'll probably stop me from going forward with it. There are several reasons I have for this which may or may not be good or justified, but they're mine nevertheless.

I feel strongly the need to participate in something that involves other survivors and I hope a way presents itself but right now I don't see how I could do it. Attending a group anonymously is one thing, starting it or being involved in starting it is something else.

I'm not stopping I'm going to go forward and read the book and literature. We will see.
 
Hi Mach 123
There is one thing I don't like about all this and that's identifying as a survivor publicly...
I totally understand this problem. I've been working to improve support for male survivors where I live for years. One of my central fears was that if my mother found out she would cut off her financial support of me (I'm currently unable to work and have severe health issues). As it turns out, my fear wasn't based in reality but it was very challenging to confront. I faced the fear of death every time I made a move to advocate for better support (for me and other survivors) locally. My most recent efforts in this department (communicating widely about a new Men's Trauma Recovery group that I played a role in getting set up locally so that at least a few guys would show up) confronted me with my shame. I did some work on it and it helped me reframe my identity into something that had nothing to do with the standard "I'm ashamed of being weak, helpless, or wounded" model that dominates most men (and very clearly my military officer father).
Best wishes to you as you move forward to improve support for yourself and other survivors where you live. Be good to yourself and gentle on yourself. It's demanding work.There is only so much that one person can do. Keeping my own well being front and centre has been crucial to me. I imagine this would be the same for you too.

Cheers,

Garth
 

diverinnh

Registrant
I just started last week with a group after looking for 2 years. In my intake interview, the woman said it would be a mixed group. I wanted a men's group, but none exist in my area, so I decided to give it a try. A week before our first meeting, she informed me that I would be the only male in the group (8 total). I want so badly to get through this, so I went last Wednesday and it took everything I had to open that door. It was only the first meeting, but everyone was so nice and inviting. We mostly talked about confidentiality, respecting each other, etc, and then we got into some trust exercises and that helped a lot. We shared some high level things, but I spoke up about how difficult it was for me to attend and how it is going to be difficult for me to share some things and everyone was so supportive. One woman even said that it was incredibly brave of me to join the group and they all agreed with her. In another exercise, we had to writhe down what we feared and hoped for out of this group. One of the facilitators read all of the responses and I told the group that I could have written each one of those. That showed me that we were all there for the same thing and had very similar thoughts. So far, I feel really good about going and I am going to try to share everything I can. I hope it goes well, because I don't know how to get through this without that kind of support.
 
That's really fantastic @diverinnh. You are incredibly brave, not just to attend, but also participate in a situation where you're the only man in the group. I'm glad to hear it's working out so well for you!
 

diverinnh

Registrant
Thanks Strangeways,
It sounds like you are doing good with the group as well. More than anything, I really need someone to talk to who will understand what I am going through. I haven't been able to find that person yet between my family and friends, so I am hoping this works. My T has been great, but this is different. I'm tired of feeling alone and this is my first step in that area. So far so good and very much looking forward to Wednesday night.
 
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