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Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

For Shame

Had a pleasant though mostly incoherent chat tonight with a homeless guy in front of the post office.  I was apparently looking pretty ragged myself, because when I said I thought I had a dollar, he said "That's ok, sister, just talk to me a little."  But I did have a dollar, one of those shiny new gold ones.   I'd found it when cleaning my office just before coming to the PO, and stuck it in my pocket.  I pressed it into his hand, and he said "That's ok, you can keep it if you need it," but I didn't.  Neither of us was exactly sure it was a real dollar or who was on it.  He remembered the Sacajawea ones; said "I get her, I know things about her.  I'm full blood (tribe withheld) myself."  He kept searching my face.  He seemed uncomfortably sober.  "I'm a sun dancer.  I don't go to the dances.  My tribe, it's hard for some of us, so I don't go now.  But I am a Sun Dancer."  "So you're a dancer who doesn't dance?"  He gave me a look, and said "You know how it is."  "It's never too late to go back, is it?", I asked, and got the same look, amplified, along with "Don't even start, sister, don't start."

"OK, I'll shut up now," I told him, and turned to leave.  He stopped me with a "Listen, sister."  He was quiet a minute.  He looked so vulnerable. He waited until I was looking him full on.   "Sister, I love you."  "I love you too, brother", I told him, and went on my way.

My heart felt heavy and lightened by our brief conversation.  Heavy because of the shame which blanketed him, and me some too for first thinking maybe I should turn the corner and just stick the envelope in the outside box.  Lightened because of our shared vulnerability in risking a real conversation, even if one of us was hungover from drugs, alcohol or just being a dancer who's kicked out of the dance and the other of us hungover from a long rainy winter of losses.  I didn't mind that he told me he loved me, and it felt fine to tell him back, even though if we'd known each other "better" we might not like each other all that much.  When he said that , I felt the part that was true for him as a suffering human, both broken and whole, talking to the part that was true in me and not all that much different.  The devil's in the details, right?  And the details of the moment were blessedly absent; just two people in a big old rattling world, connecting for a moment and then on our way.  I think we felt seen.  I think it felt good, for both of us.

Researcher and author Brene' Brown has a new TED talk on shame and vulnerability, those human unifying conditions.  If you've not seen her original TED talk, listen to it first at this link:
She's got some powerful things to say about how we can get out of our own way when connecting in the world.  Her new talk focuses on the shame aspect, and how it literally dis-courages us from being innovative, creative and making needed changes. 

Watch it here (if it's working), or at the link.  There's important wisdom here, and work for us.


1)  Vulnerability is not weakness  (emotional risk, exposure and uncertainty-- our most accurate measure of couarge.  To be seen, to be honest.  Vulnerabilty is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change)



raijasi said...

Thank you Jane for your thoughts, I like people are thinking like that. It makes our world a little bite more human.

Anonymous said...

thanks Jana - for me shame is talking dirty on myself. I'm noticing what starts those tapes running. Amazing male/female insight on shame. I appreciate you finding and sharing good stuff.