Just a very brief outline of what was upsetting me yesterday, and will no doubt continue to unsettle for a while.
Last year when Mum moved in with us, I took her along to a Women’s mental health support group which was run by a national charity known as Rethink Mental Illness. I was surprised to recognise many of the members from the Fibromyalgia group I had previously been a member of, but had been uncomfortable with it being run by a mental health charity. (ME and Fibromyalgia have been dogged by inappropriate association with psychiatry for decades)
To cut a long story short, the group decided to break free of Rethink and set up on their own (there was actually a very acrimonious split but I won’t go into details).
It was decided that the group would amalgamate to be both a Fibro group and a mental health group and since we were all friends, we could divide the time informally and equally between the two. I thought it suited everyone.
But then, just after Christmas, there was a big, bad falling out and one of the members left/ was pushed out of the group, and one or two members made a complete turnaround and decided to ask Rethink to step back in, as though everything that had happened before and all the reasons we ejected Rethink were irrelevant.
I was given leaflets to re-apply to Rethink to be ‘assessed’ by them, and I filled them in but carried them around in my bag for weeks, really not quite comfortable about being involved with them again (not to mention the fact that I was unhappy about various aspects of the way the group was going, not least of which was the decision to offically call the group a Mental Health group and ignore the ME & Fibromyalgia).
On Friday, we weren’t able to get to the group and apparently they met with Rethink without us. Rethink determined that nobody could be a member of the group anymore unless they were assessed and approved by Rethink and so we could no longer attend meetings until we got that sorted out. Not only that, but they stipulated that we were not even allowed to meet members of the group for coffee until Rethink had approved us.
Apparently the other members of the group all sat there meekly and said “Yes Rethink, whatever you say, Rethink, three bags full, Rethink.”
They seem to be honestly surprised and confused that I would disobey. They had not anticipated it and apparently everybody is reeling because I have broken the group up!
Of course I am very sorry and upset to have hurt or upset my friends. But by all accounts, I think these friendships must have been very weak and superficial if not entirely fake if they would submit to tyranny for the dubious promise of safety that Rethink offers.
I think I probably need to learn to say “no” louder and more determinedly at an earlier stage if I’m to avoid repeats. But in this instance, I think it’s all over and we need to stand our ground and be prepared to lose the group to Rethink. I’m not willing to submit to the malevolence or incompetence of a group that has already shown themselves to be untrustworthy and more trouble than it’s worth, and I doubt the others are strong enough to resist.
I hope I’m wrong and the friendships will survive despite the disagreement (and Rethink’s ridiculous rules). But somehow, I very much doubt it.