It’s been a week since the general support group and I can say: it was a big success.
I was feeling over the moon when we ended and that feeling is still carrying me today.
11 people attended from 3 countries: the US, Canada, and the UK. All of us had disabilities to some extent, but what surprised me was how many are also full-time or live-in caregivers. I’m not sure why it keeps on surprising me; I suppose in my own brain it’s such a feat, it takes energy that I don’t have. But I was reminded: I am my own kind of caregiver, just not a live-in one.
Though the CG might disagree with me here, I do not consider myself her caregiver. I’m often taking care of her when she needs it, yes, but she takes care of me daily, whether or not she’s feeling tired, achy, etc… I couldn’t fill that sort of role day and night.
That said, I was made keenly aware of just how much I am contributing to my communities. I don’t feel like the drain I once-upon-a-time thought I was.
The group talked for two and a half hours! Thankfully with the years of experience I have as a support group leader (I started in 2003) I was ready for just about anything to unfold. Usually I will politely interrupt if someone is monopolizing the time, throw a question out to give everyone something to think about, ask people who haven’t had the chance to speak if they want that chance, etc.. but it’s pretty easy to tell when someone needs to talk. Not wants to talk, needs to. This group was so considerate of each other that when someone needed the space to talk, everyone respectfully gave it. Only once did we all talk on top of each other, but it was towards the end and we were all getting tired by that point ~ especially the ones from the UK, it was about 1:30a British Standard Time when we finished!
Though our disabilities vary (I always come from a chronic illness lens where I carry many different kinds of physical and mental disabilities… others come from single physical disability lens, others live and work with mental disabilities, etc) still we all found common ground in our struggles.
The next day during Kim’s show, Burn It Down With Kim Brown so many people thanked me (and at least three people were upset that they missed the first group!) that I couldn’t stop smiling.
We will continue next month, keeping it to the second Monday at 2p Pacific, 5p Eastern, 10p British. Please get in touch if you want to be on the list for next month, or if you’d like your own group for your show’s audience!
The CG and I are working on our introduction video (for people who haven’t been following us for years) but we learned something very important on our first go — we both need microphones. 😂 When we are more than a foot from the phone, its mic no longer picks up our voices clearly. So we are waiting for some parcels to arrive with a lapel mic and an extension cord.