On the plus side, nobody got hurt (although there were some brief reminders to the effect of "nobody really likes to get their head tapped unexpectedly, K."). On the not-so-plus side, I'm guessing it'll take kind of a while for my co-worker in recreation to sort through the two big stacks of paper from her desk that, um, well, er, ended up all over the floor when I turned my back for a minute to deal with L.
I think I can safely say that this particular session felt like it was the exact opposite of the lovely one I described to you a few weeks ago.
Here's how this whole party started:
I arrived in the cottage, fully aware that the women there were almost all sick with colds and stomach viruses (lovely). I had called earlier in the afternoon to ask if I should come over or skip it, and I was told, "well, people are running around with the sniffles and stuff, but..." (which I'm fairly sure was code for "Get your a** over here, lady! We've all been suffering through this, and you'd just better do your time!")
First thing, G (one of the more chatty ladies who live in this cottage) came over to announce to me that I should "stay away" from her because she's "sick as a dog," after which she proceeded to follow me around and ask me questions repeatedly until I finally got the women who are actually in my group assembled and closed the door with a firm "I'll see you later, G. Hope you feel better." [Insert heavy sigh here.]
Honestly, I was quite happy as we got started (although a bit nervous) because M had actually joined us. Her staff person walked her over (at my request), and she had miraculously managed to convince M to walk in to the session area with us! Usually I get her as far as the door to the room where we work, and she starts to hum loudly. Then she won't go in to the room with the other two or three women from the group, and she won't go back to her day area either.
Inevitably, V gets annoyed because she is waiting for the session to begin, so she scoots (she moves on her knees usually- she has a wheelchair, but she tends to hop out of it when she gets to the room) out of the room where we work and sits on the floor, watching me and looking impatient (I'm sure if she were able to stand more comfortably there'd be foot-tapping involved).
It took some doing for N to get in to the room, because her OCD was making it plain difficult to get through the door. We waited for her and she got in. The problem, however, was that K was sitting in the chair that N prefers to use. Stop. The. Presses.
So. N pushed and pushed (in spite of my requests that she stop doing so) at K (who, on any other day, prefers to wander around the room and throw everything she touches on the floor or across the room), trying to get her out of "her" chair. Having very little luck (K is pretty hardy), N (no slouch herself) took hold of K's shoulder and her behind and unceremoniously shoved her out of the chair.
Somehow, I managed to get K moved to another chair at last (to the one that V prefers, God help me). Mercifully, V decided to stay in her wheelchair for a short period of time.
Then I had to figure out what to do to get M settled, because she kept coming over to me with magazines that were in the room and insisting that I hold them. Finally, I got the message, tore out a page and handed it to her. That seemed to be what she wanted and she promptly found herself a chair and proceeded to rip paper peacefully.
For twelve blissful seconds, we were all sitting quietly (it was such a glorious moment) when we heard a loud crash at the door.
"[Expletive deleted]! What now?!?" (I thought, loudly, and in a rather un-music therapist-like fashion.)
L arrived, right behind her giant walker (the thing that had crashed into the door), and she decided she needed to come in and sort through the plastic groceries in the faux grocery basket (that lives in the room we use) right now!
And L, I need to tell you, is not exactly Miss Let's-Talk-About-This-Shall-We-America."
Of course, since we were all sitting (for those twelve brief, yet happy, seconds), this required rearranging everyone so L could get to the table (which was, of course, behind everyone).
Well, not entirely unexpectedly, in the process of tending to L, and rearranging the furniture and the various people contained therein so nobody would get run over by L's giant walker, K got up to explore, and that's when we heard the two huge piles of paper from the recreation staff's desk hit the floor.
I couldn't, for anything, get K to sit anywhere, so I gave up and tried to pick up the giant mess of paper and put it somewhere somewhat unreachable until after the session.
While I was dealing with the paper, V decided she'd had enough, so she headed out the door and sat in the hallway, chin in hand, waiting for me to chase after her. Since I'm not supposed to leave V alone (and I'm not supposed to leave M or K alone either), I put a chair in the doorway so I could keep an eye on the group and on V at the same time.
V, in spite of my best efforts, turned tail and headed back into the day area (through the bathroom door that's across the hall from our room). And, much as I hate to admit it, by that point I just figured, "Okay, that's one less person to worry about right now. Amen."
K roamed around the room some more, tapping N on the head unexpectedly. And M continued her page tearing adventures, assembling the tiny pieces neatly on her lap.
I'd love to tell you I was able to make a brilliant interpretation to the women in the group about their actions and how they seemed to be all about going from crisis to crisis, and there's all manner of "no, pay attention to me" and some sadistic teasing, all in conjunction with the incredibly overwhelming way they interact with me and with other people in their lives.
Heck, I'd love to say that there was even half enough emotional space left in the room so we could even start to look at that, but that is so not where the group is yet!
Evidently, the group's goal for right now is to (through their actions/interactions) convey as loudly and dramatically as possible, "Roia!! This is what it feels like to be here. To be us. To live life!!! Do something!!"
And, for now (I have learned) (rather slowly, I must add) that my job is to just listen and get through it. And show up next time and get through it again. And keep setting limits and keep trying to help them use the music or use the music myself.
At some point, they'll be ready to hear me talk about what I'm seeing/experiencing in that group, but not yet.
Definitely not yet.