m_ester_old_folks_fieldMany years ago, before I was part of the circle, I was seeing Marie for weekly talks.  I was going through some difficult times spiritually.  She kept at me to join the women’s circle, thinking that it would ease my sense of isolation and feed my spiritual hunger.  I was stubborn in my refusal.  But she kept pushing.  I was so afraid of other people, feeling that the traumas that I had gone through in my life made me unfit and unwelcome company for others.  I “didn’t play well with others”, which is how my husband put it.  But I finally started with the group shortly after it began, and it was uncomfortable at first.  I was uneasy with the other people and frustrated that they didn’t open up and say personal things about themselves.  There was a line they did not cross.  I was always more likely to cross that line than others, given my history of recovery from mental illness, suicidality and alcoholism. I had more experience speaking about personal things in public.   So I tried opening up and felt awkward about it for what seemed to be a long time.  Then I noticed that Janet and Marylou said things about their personal lives- both of them were experiencing problems they needed to share.  And little by little others opened up, until finally it became a safe place for everybody to speak from the heart.  I noticed, during this transition, that people listened to what I had to say, and I started to feel confident in speaking, and more and more comfortable in the group.  Although I still think somewhere inside me is that sense that “I don’t play well with others”, I also know that this is not really the case.  The group has healed me.  The group has come to make me feel I belong to it, that I have a place there, and I will be heard if I speak.  This is nothing short of miraculous for me.  And turning stones into fishes, some of the group members came to my physical aid when I was laid up after surgeries, bringing food and company to me at home when I was unable to take care of myself.  I still can’t believe they did that for me.  The group will always be a special place, a loving organism that made us all feel at home.  It wasn’t easy,  it wasn’t always graceful, and it didn’t happen overnight.  But it happened.  And I would miss it sorely if it were not a continuing part of my life.

~ Mary Esther


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