January 21, 2016
The following is a continutation of the article in the last post:
cont…In Support of Support Groups
by Tanya Lester
…cont….Aspasia was born when Doreen Kuckert approached Lydia Giles of the Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women (MACSW) to find out if this type of support group existed. It didn’t, so Doreen and Lydia created it.
I think some of our most valuable meetings have been when we have chosen to focus on a particular topic like family, sexuality, health, taking care of ourselves, relationships or living alone. I have many different aspects of my life that I want to share with the group: dealing with one aspect of my life at one meeting helps me to start sorting out one area at a time.
Many of us continue to work out the stress of being women in our society through professional counselling, regular exercising, yoga, transcendental meditation and so on. But, as Lydia says, the answers to our problems can come from ourselves, from women, even when others might think we are ‘crazy’.
Aspasia has become a place where I can laugh and cry and come away feeling re-energized enough to continue to be a women’s rights activist. And whatever other women get from support groups, there has certainly proved to be a need for them. Because of many requests, Lydia has helped form two other support groups.
“What is really special about (the support groups) is the wide variety of women that we have,” Lydia said. They come from all walks of life, age groups, races, and so on. Lydia sees this as being an advantage over neighbourhood groups. Part of our learning experiences are recognizing our differences. Finding out more about each other includes meeting in each other’s homes.
But Lydia is excited, too, about the “common base” that women share and express through the groups. “It’s empowering to recognize this,” she said.
Another support group that has started within the last few months is one for lesbian women who are coming out. It gathers every second Thursday of the month at Giovanni’s Gay Community Centre. The group is one of the few that is not closed to new members. Women are welcome to go to a meeting once and find out if they want to continue, can attend occasionally or all the time. According to one of its organizers, this support group has brought out lesbians who are “thinking” about come out, have just come out, or have been living in a lesbian relationship for years and want to start communication with other lesbians.
The women discuss areas such as what stage they are at in coming out and where they want to go; the positive and negative aspects of the choices they have made; the legal aspects of a lesbian with children; lesbian and feminist stereotypes; the lesbian community’s ‘rules’; and personal problems of any nature.
Part of each gathering includes discussion on a rotational one-to-one basis as well as within the group as a whole. The support group provides a vital need for women in a society where it is not socially acceptable to be a lesbian.
In ending, I would like to emphasize that there are other support groups that I haven’t mentioned in this article and there is no set formula for getting a support group together. With a minimum amount of advertising or merely through ‘word of mouth’, you can start a support group and you don’t need to be a professional therapist.
“In fact,” as Joan Winslow put it, “this is one free space that women create.”
To read more of Tanya Lester’s posts go to writingsmall.wordpress.com or tealeaf56.wordpress.com
Tanya has four books: Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader (can be purchased from the author or from amazon.com), Women Rights/Writes, Friends I Never Knew and Dreams and Tricksters. These books are available in some library systems and the last three are in the Legislative Library of Manitoba.
Tanya does tea leaf reading, tarot reading and other psychic readings. She is writer, a reiki master, an art model, and a house sitter. For more information go to teareading.wordpress.com, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google or contact her at email@example.com or 250-538-0086