Connection Group registration for our spring session is now open! Check out our groups and sign up here.
I was a bit leery about Connection Groups. Everyone knows that talking to people you don’t even know online can be awkward. Small fuzzy pictures of faces frozen in strange positions isn’t quite the same as face-to-face over coffee. I have been disappointed by that before.
Group counseling changed my mind. Part of our intensive debriefing retreat last spring was daily group counseling. It was there I realized the power of telling your story – your true, honest story – in a safe, accepting environment. I saw how connection could break down walls to aid deep emotional healing. Our group was able to sit together in the same room, but I believed this kind of connection could be possible from a distance. I was willing to try, at least.
I signed up to lead a group for women dealing with depression or anxiety. Probably because of my own struggles, I have a passion for mental health so I was excited for this opportunity. More people wanted to join the group than the spots available. It is no surprise that this is a struggle many of us can understand.
I was a little nervous going into our first meeting. I am one of those people who is bad at small talk, but I like going deep. What if I shared my story and others responded negatively, or just not at all? What if they were unwilling to get deep enough to make things meaningful?
I shouldn’t have worried. I came away from our very first meeting feeling overjoyed at the connection. Everyone opened up so willingly. Each story was punctuated by, “Yes!” “I know!” “Me too!” How wonderful to feel understood on a deep level – by a group of women we had never met in person and never talked to before that day!
Each week I looked forward to our Connection Group time. We shared how our week had gone, whether we had been struggling a lot or doing well. Generally, we only got to 1-2 questions related to the week’s topic because we all had so much to share. It was like having an actual conversation, not a stilted walkie-talkie back and forth.
One moment stands out to me. One of the women had to leave her house to get the internet, and one morning she told us how hard it was to make herself get out of the house. It was not because she was tired or busy or had small children – although all that was true. It was because of the effort of overcoming the anxiety that strove to keep her inside.
She shared this saying, “I don’t know if it makes sense.” And all of us responded, “Oh, we understand!” Because we did understand. We understood the energy and sheer willpower it can take just to get out of bed and actually leave the house. We knew that on some days you must fight a huge weight that is pressing you backward and downward. We knew how hard it was to explain to someone who doesn’t fight a battle to get out the door.
We knew what it was like to be so often misunderstood – because of our lives and work, and also because of our struggles with depression and anxiety. This experience made the understanding that we found in the group all the much sweeter. Finally, a place where we didn’t feel weird!
When the time came for the Connection Group to end, we felt like we were saying goodbye to friends. I am eagerly anticipating starting a connection with another group of women this spring!
Have you been surprised at the ways you’ve found a meaningful connection while overseas? What “oh we understand too” moments have you experienced?
Check out our Connection Groups and find the fit that is right for you! We have Skype, Facebook, and email groups. We have three waves of groups opening over the next 24 hours to give everyone around the globe a chance to register. We’re excited for you to connect and share with like-hearted women. Register for Connection Groups here.
Also our early bird registration for the Velvet Ashes Online Retreat is closing soon! (Tuesday 11:59pm EST) Grab your spot before the price goes up. Register for the Retreat here.