need your insight

I was in group yesterday (part of my program for chaplaincy) and part of our time is called covenant group where we talk about whatever we need to talk about.  I have to be careful talking about this because it is confidential and all that.  So I will be as general as possible while still trying to get my questions and point across.
One of the people in my group was pushing people to open up more and trying to get us to share our feelings on a deeper level and he said that every time I start to express emotion I pull back.  He started in on my not processing my emotions about living with my illness.  Can you imagine?  I just kind of sat there confused because I couldn't figure out where he was coming from. 
I kind of let it go until he said that if I didn't "feel" things on a deeper level it was probably affecting my work with patients.  Well, I let him say whatever he wanted about me and how I interact in group, but he went too far with his comment about how I might be relating to patients and  I laid in to him big time.
I said, "How dare you.  You don't know me.  When I visit a patient in pain I don't back away from their pain because I KNOW what it feels like to be in pain.  I KNOW what they are going through."  I went on and on and his face was red and his eyes were tearing up and after I stopped two of the three other people in group also had tears in their eyes.  I felt like I was speaking for all of us who have tried to explain ourselves over and over to people who just don't get it.
How could he possibly think that I haven't "processed my feelings" living with chronic illness for 12 years?!  I process my feelings every day.  There really isn't any way to explain to other people what it is we go through on a daily basis.  The main reason I am doing this work is to try to give encouragement to people, to validate their feelings, to visit with them about faith, hope, love.  I'm still upset about what he said - thinking he could somehow help me understand how to deal with my feelings and how to relate to people in pain.  
P.S.  He left immediately after group while the rest of us were gathering our things. 
All I can think is that he is completely clueless, and if so, how does that affect HIS work with patients.  I will have another opportunity to bring this up next week in group.  I think I need to because I am still upset about it and I need to clear the air.  So, my question is...
If you had the opportunity to try to help someone in the helping profession, what would you tell them about what it is like to live with a chronic illness and how you deal with your feelings?
I tried to tell him I don't get emotional about stuff in group because it's part of life and I'm dealing with it the best I can.  If I need to cry or whatever I do that by myself on my own time.  I tried to explain that it doesn't do any good to dwell on things I can't control and he thought that meant that I don't process things on a deeper level.  I can't think of a way to explain how we bump into our limitations every day, how can we NOT process that every day?
How can I explain this to someone who NEEDS to understand because he talks to people like us in the hospital all the time?
If he said the same thing to a patient with chronic illness that he said to me I think I would just have to smack him upside the head. 
 

Replies

RichieD
RichieD

I don\'t know what gets into people, Katy. I\'ve had people say the most outlandish things to me about my illness. More than once I\'ve had them say to me that I\'m using chronic illness to hide from life. Wow, talk about anger, stuff like that makes me want to physically hit them.

Try to put it out of your mind. I know it\'s hard to do that, but I guarantee that you are going to get slammed with stuff like this again and again. I\'ve found that it really upsets me, and that does me no good, my peace of mind is essential to dealing with my symptoms.

I don\'t know what dark part of human nature this kind of thing comes from, and I don\'t want to know. I just try very hard to dodge it as best I can. Some individuals just get an urge to abuse sick people, I guess.