Day 131: Who Am I in a Group?

Recently an interesting point opened up for me in relation to: who I am in a group. Within walking process, as a Destonian, we become part of a community, a group of individuals based on the principles we commit ourselves to live by - a group of individuals that walk and apply these principles individually, yet together. The group is a continuous point of stability, support and cross-reference for each one that is part of the group - yet the group cannot exist unless the individuals within it continue to participate within the principles of the group. Within being part of this group, I've had experiences of anxiety come up in relation to the group suddenly being 'gone' or disintegrating. In speaking to my partner, I realized that these anxieties were memory-based - fuelled by memories of previous experiences of being part of a group. So, I'll write about the most prominent memories that define my expectations and fears in relation to being part of a group and walk the Self-Forgiveness and Self-Corrective application process on each one, so that who I am in a group is no longer defined by memories and so that I don't create unnecessary expectations, anxieties and fears that would influence my experience and participation in the group.

Memory 1: Best Summercamp Ever

From when I was about 6 years old, my mother sent me on summer camps. I say 'sent me' because it was her initiative and I would sometimes feel that she forced me to go so I would learn to eat more than just rice, sausage and eggs, but I remember that when she suggested it to me initially, that I was actually quite excited to do this. It would always be right before the trip that I would experience a sudden resistance to go and then I would plead my mother to please just keep me home, and not make me go - but then she'd say that there was no choice because she had already paid for it, I had told her I wanted to go and so now I had to go. Anyhow - with these camps I would always be so shy initially - just one girl among a bunch of strangers, strange kids and strange adults. I would generally get annoyed with the adults who would act exceedingly excited about going on this trip - acting happy and nutty when most of us, the kids, were just uncomfortable and scared. I knew they were trying to 'lift our spirits' and destract us from leaving our parents, but I would always think it made it worse.

First, on the bus - each time it was hoping that I would end up sitting next to someone 'nice' - so that I had someone to talk to and immediately could make friends - that way, by the time we'd arrive to the camp site I was already not alone anymore. I would hate it when they would ask if there is someone we wanted to make sure to share our room with, and everyone had friends they wanted to bunk up with except for me and some other 'alone' kids - so, I made it a point to make sure I would already have someone I could say I wanted to share a room with by the time we arrived at the camp site. For the first few days, I would then spend time mostly with that one person. It didn't actually matter if we really got along or if we would really become friends - it was just to have someone by my side. Often, as days passed, I would part from that person more and more and start spending time with people I found I could be friends with.

These camps then generally followed the same pattern in terms of 'group dynamics' - initially we were all just individual children or little groups of children being in one place, doing things 'together'. But this 'togetherness' was more each one agreeing to 'play along' as though we were a group - without actually being one. As time progressed and we would all get to know each other better and start having fun - this 'group-feeling' would start growing - like, suddenly it is no longer just individuals - there are the individuals and then there is the group. By the time the camp was reaching its end this 'group-feeling' would reach its peak - where we all felt that we were part of something, together had been through something. The bond between the individuals and the group would be different/stronger it seemed than those I had with my friends from school - because with school-friends, I would see them in school, then go home and then only the next day see them again. On the camps, you lived with the other kids and adults for over a week - waking up together, having breakfast together, doing all kinds of activities together, having lunch and dinner together, showering at the same times, brushing your teeth together, going to sleep together. All the moments that you usually go through in a private way - that your school friends are not part of - I would share with these kids on camp. So - in a way I would feel a lot more 'at home' after about a week, among a group of children and adults that I barely knew, then among my school-friends.

Then right at the peak - the 'height' of this group-experience, the camp would be over. We would all exchange addresses and promise to write letters to make sure we keep in touch. Then it was on the bus and back to the parents. Fascinatingly - no matter how much the kids had expressed that they wished the camp would never end, because it's so much fun and the group is awesome and we should stay friends forever - by the time we were in the parking lot where the parents were waiting to pick up their kids - the kids would say to the adults: "okay bye, thanks so much" - the kids turn their backs and run off to their parents and go home.

I would always be 'heartbroken' after a cool camp and generally would be sick for a few weeks afterwards in having to suddenly adjust to normal life - where everyone that had made part of what I had come to call 'home', was suddenly gone. I would want to tell everyone about all the things I did and what happened, but most would only listen with half an ear and it seemed like I never could really bring across what it had been like - what I had experienced - what I had lost. And that made me feel extremely lonely. Initially I always tried to keep in touch with the kids I had become closest to on the camps in a desperate attempt to hold on that feeling of belonging, of togetherness from camp, so I would write them letters, but then I either wouldn't hear back from them, or when I did, they would talk about all the things they are doing in their life now, which I was not a part of and it just made me feel even more disconnected from them.

So all of this was 'generally' the case - lol.

Now there was the one camp - and this is the actual memory I meant to write about - it was a camp in Bruges (Belgium) where we all took our bicycles and every day would go cycling to different places and then play games in cities. That to me was the best summercamp ever. I think I was about 13 at that time. I remember in the beginning looking at the adults that were joining us - there were 4 - and based on what they looked like - already deciding that I hoped to be with two specific adults in the group. It would usually be 2 adults for a group of about 10 to 20 children. The decision was based purely on their looks - they were a guy and a girl that looked 'pretty' - they conformed to the picture of what 'cool people' apparently looked like. The other two adults were women, clearly older and they were also quite heavy - so it seemed that the most dynamic duo would be the young girl and boy. When I arrived at the campsite and we were devided in to the groups - I ended up in the group with the two women. So - I was immediately quite disappointed and thought this would be the worst camp ever, lol. But oh my, was I mistaken - those two women were amazing with us and after a few days it was clear that I was lucky being in their group. They would act nutty and funny, but would also be directive and stern when needed, yet fair. I found that often with the very fun leaders, they would not be very directive and would also mostly interact with the confident kids, not worrying about the more shy ones leaving left out. These two women, though, were able to strike a perfect balance - attending to every child and pulling each one together in the group-feeling.

At some point during this camp I actually sprained one of my ankles quite badly. On a different camp, I would have probably used it as an excuse to not have to participate in some of the activities, but this time, I refused to have a cast put on. One of the two women responsible for my group was a nurse and when she looked at the ankle, she'd said that I'd need a cast. I'd had a cast before and I'd absolutely hated it, so I told her no - I didn't want it. She insisted a doctor should come out and when he came, he luckily had a solution - it was relatively new at the time, but he suggested a cast made from plastic with air cushions that I would be able to take off. It was quite expensive then, so they called my parents to find out if it would be okay if they bought it and sent them the bill. My parents agreed and I was so glad that I didn't have to skip on any of the cycling rides and, apart from running, was able to participate in everything quite well. Towards the end of the camp, the same women, the nurse - fell. It was during a 'party' where we all got to dress up and dance to music. She was dancing with someone, mis-stepped, fell to the floor and dislocated her hip. She immediately forced the hip back into the joint and was then taken to the hospital. The pain had been quite intense, so she had been lying on the floor screaming and crying. Most of us kids were in shock to see her in that pain and the party ended in tears after she was taken to the hospital. When she came back, it was her wearing the cast and walking on crutches.

When the camp was at its end and the bus took us to the drop-off point - one of the organizers of the, well, organization, that, well, organizes these trips - lol - was present at the scene and this person had not been with on the camp, but just assisted in that moment. The person was flabbergasted, because instaed of the usual site - the kids running off to their parents and slopily waving goodby to the camp-leaders, all the kids kept standing by the bus and didn't want to leave - half of the kids were crying that the camp was over and kept clinging to the camp leaders, not wanting to go home with their parents. The person asked the camp-leaders 'what the hell did you guys do with these kids on this camp??' Lol.

And still now I find it hard to explain what made this camp so different from other camps. Maybe it was how each one in the group really pushed to be part of the group and 'show themselves' so to speak. Maybe it was the tactfulness of the camp-leaders in how they structured the activities to always be a success and always fun. Maybe it was the fact that this was the first camp where everyone in the group would actually get along with each other, despite how 'different' we initially seemed. I cannot put my finger on it.

After this camp, we had a 'reunion' a few months later - and barring only 1 or 2 people, everyone had shown up - and despite what I had expected - during that reunion day we felt as much as a group as we had on camp and having as much fun together. I had expected that I would be disappointed, that the group feeling would be gone and that this reunion day would only be a bitter aftertaste of a delicious treat. But no - it seemed like an extension of it.

In the next posts, I will first continue laying out the other memories after which I'll walk them through with SF and Self-Corrective statements. Stay tuned...