Last week I went to NYC for the annual American Group Psychotherapy Association conference. As I’ve shared on this blog before, this conference is a highlight of my year; every single year.
This year my experience at the conference exceeded my own expectations and hopes and I had some really powerful experiences and gained some important insights about myself.
One of the reasons I believe this year’s conference was so important for me, was because it was an opportunity for a break from my identity as a mom. And more specifically, a mom who has lost a child and a mom who currently experiences fertility problems. Motherhood so easily becomes an identity that subsumes the other parts of me that are also important. I’m not saying motherhood shouldn’t often take center stage as it’s a demanding role and an incredibly important role. But it’s certainly not all of me. And it doesn’t fulfill all of the parts of me. And when motherhood also feels so loaded to me with loss and pain, it is so incredibly relieving to be in an environment, where for just a week, I can reconnect with other parts of myself. Parts that too often go neglected. Parts of me that are outside of my identity of being a mother, wife, and psychologist; the three roles that consume my life right now. Connecting with those other parts was a great way to celebrate my birthday!
Beyond reconnecting with different parts of my identity and personality, I also really valued connecting with others. AGPA is “all about” connection, given it’s hundreds of group psychotherapists merging to commune with each other and learn from each other. The connections with both new faces as well as old friends, was incredibly valuable and rejuvenating for me. It was also through these connections that I had powerful experiences and gleaned new insights into myself.
I had an amazing week last week. I want to keep searching for ways to attend to these other important pieces of my identity as I also navigate those important roles of motherhood, wifedom, and therapist. Is wifedom a thing? Sounds like it should be!
Anyway, I think finding ways to integrate more of ALL of me into my daily life will help me not feel so dependent on AGPA as an annual “Anna emotional splurge.” I don’t know how I’ll do that, but I want to begin by owning those pieces of my identity instead of trying to squelch them, ignore them, pretend they don’t exist, or feel guilty about them when they emerge. I’m going to look for ways that all of Anna can come out and play!