friday night – sitting with a book
Lately I have been on this “Brene’ Brown” kick, by reading some of her books (again) and watching her new video on “Soul Sunday”.
My therapist actually just started to watch some of her TED talks, and listening to her podcasts, and we have been incorporating some of her wisdom in our sessions together; which has been really healing and open.
I love Brene’ Brown! I have been reading and watching her stuff for a long time, and the first time I saw her video “The Power of Vulnerability” on TED Talk .. I was in complete AWE!
I was inspired by her wisdom around vulnerability, because I struggle with this in my healing – Vulnerability is scary, and shame is something that may as well be my middle name – both hard to hold onto, and let go of.
Today I decided to go to Barnes and Noble and get her latest book “Daring Greatly”. I have read all her books, and am now just about done with this new one – yes already – until I put it down for a moment to write.
I decide to take a break from the book because something hit me when I came to a part of the book that stopped me in my tracks, and that was – disappointment, maybe even a little anger.
There was a part in the book that caught my eye, and I got excited for a moment, she started to talk about “Trauma” and the small outline was called “Trauma and Daring Greatly”.. and I thought to myself “YAY, finally she is incorporating what vulnerability and shame looks like in a person who has experienced a great deal of trauma; because lets face it, people who have been through extreme trauma and suffer PTSD have a different level of the norm on vulnerability, shame, and fear.
I started to read and much to my disappointment – it was less than a page long, and I thought to myself “was it too vulnerable to talk about people who suffer extreme trauma, sexual abuse, physical abuse, rape, and neglect that it only deserved less than a page?” – that was my sarcastic anger coming out!
It starts off in a direction to where it explains how hard it is for people who have experienced “trauma” do have a harder time letting go of their “survival strategies”, and out of all the things Brene’ Brown talks and writes about, finally she is adding people like “me” into the equation and how hard vulnerability is for someone who holds a lifeline called “survival mode” and how vulnerability is 100 fold.
Well . . it pretty much dropped off at what a few trauma related participants do and gave a few bullet point ideas like “getting professional help” “acknowledge the problem” “work through the shame” etc…
NEXT!!! . . . . and then it dropped off to another subject
That is when I put the book down and I was a bit disappointed. Dont get me wrong, I love everything about Brene’ Brown and I will continue to embrace her wisdom – but this part of the book really disappointed me.
I felt as if the “vulnerability” to talk about people who suffer or suffered from extreme trauma only deserved a small part of the room in this book.
I wanted to read about how people like me (who suffered such trauma in my past) open the door and to let go of the “survival strategies” of being vulnerable and letting go of that shame.
Being vulnerable today is still extremely hard for me, because in the past, being vulnerable was danger! I was forced to hold shame. I was forced to numb out, I was forced to push away joys because the moment I felt joy, there was a backhanded fist to meet it.
“How can we expect someone to give up a way of seeing and understanding the world that has physically, cognitively, or emotionally kept them alive”
I feel I was labeled as “whole-hearted” and a “thriver”, and although that is really nice to know – I still have no clue on how to welcome vulnerability fully due to the extreme trauma I went through for the first half of my life.
I will agree, my skin is a lot tougher to thrive, and my heart is a lot softer for being whole hearted because of the life I had, but I truly would like to read this book and feel I am a part of this too – where do we fit in?
How do “I” embrace vulnerability when that was DEATH and not just a fear for me?
I guess you would have to say I am taking that risk right now by writing this blog writing tonight, and the blog I wrote the other day – “truth be told“. But I still would like to feel a little less alone when it comes to others just “knowing” what it’s like to be me and how hard vulnerability is for someone who lived with abuse both sexually and physically and raped at the age of 12.
I think I got excited when I saw “Trauma and Daring Greatly” I was ready to read something that pertained to how hard it is for people like me, and maybe a small solution to Vulnerability and me.
And I was disappointed.
One of the things that my therapist has said many times through the years so honestly and gently is: “I know what you feel, but I dont know” “I know what you have been through, but I dont know” “I know how much you hurt, but I dont know – but I can support you and stay connected to you through it”.
being vulnerable is my biggest struggle, and everyday I take that chance – but not without heavy breathing, anxiety or sweaty palms.
I will continue to read the book, because it truly is a great book, and I am enjoying this time for me tonight .. but I really think there needs to be more hope for those who suffer or have suffered extreme trauma, abuse, rape, physical abuse, neglect, and mental abuse… because vulnerability and shame is on a whole different level for us, because those were things we shut out to survive, and now we have to learn how to embrace it outside of the trauma? – NOT easy – not even close!
Sometimes I wish there was this magical potion that held all the answers to how to overcome the kind of abuse I went through; that all I have to do is tap my heels 3 times, drink the potion and POOF .. but there isn’t, and that is why this healing path I have been on is so important and so empowering moving forward in my life.
I am not the same person I was 6 years ago before therapy . I have worked hard to come as far as I am today, and I will continue to work hard knowing and accepting that – I have to accept that there is no easy answer, it has to come from within . . . .
Back to reading . . . . .
Dawn St Amand Paoletta
March 23, 2013 at 1:01 AM
I met with a sweet survivor today – her name is Holly Otten and she shares a lot about her healing journey (too bad you weren’t closer Karen) and also has a ministry called Tin Man Ministries. She does have a web-site- and two books. Praying for your journey to complete freedom. In His Grace, Dawn
March 23, 2013 at 10:59 AM
Thanks Dawn 🙂 .. I love connecting with other survivors .. there is something about the knowing that connects us. It’s amazing that more and more people are opening up about the very thing that silenced them their whole life .. it’s awesome!
March 23, 2013 at 10:46 AM
Karen I can so relate to your words about wanting …..” to read something that pertained to how hard it is for people like me, and maybe a small solution to Vulnerability and me”.
I feel your yearning because i think I have my own version of it too….having also been abused and traumatized. I like that your therapist can deeply listen to your reality and know but not know….that he has the decensy to acknowledge that he doesn’t really ‘know’ what you went through.
I wish I had a T like yours.
As I read your words I thought “KAREN IS GOING TO BE THE ONE TO WRITE that chapter that was only a page long in this book you are talking about……No SHE WILL WRITE A WHOLE BOOK for us survivors, from a survivor’s perspective…..from survivor to THRIVER????
There is a stronger tone in your words in this post….More direct and passionate….I like it!
March 23, 2013 at 11:03 AM
I totally agree! It’s funny because at first when my therapist used to say that, it would make me “angry” .. what do you mean you dont know, I spent years telling you about it lol .. but then I got what he was saying! you know, but you dont know .. I get it and now I think it’s great that I have a therapist who is so honest – because there are a lot of people out there that pretend to know – but don’t.
YOU NEVER Know.. maybe I will be that person someday to write about the chapters missing.. I am still working on my book “alone in the closet” .. evetytime I get ready to finish writing it, a chapter changes in my life. So I put it aside and said “when I know the time is right, I will know.
🙂 thank you Gel …
March 23, 2013 at 8:55 PM
Praying for a complete healing for you, dear sister.
March 25, 2013 at 11:06 PM
Thank you, once again, for your willingness to be so open. There is no greater vulnerability than sharing your true self.
I also love Brene Brown, not only what she shares, but her authenticity in sharing it. However, as a therapist who works primarily with adults with a history of sexual abuse, I find that she does miss some very important caveats when it comes to child abuse.
For example, the idea that if you share shame with someone and they respond with empathy, it allows you to let go of the shame. In theory I suppose this may be true. However, if you believe you are bad, you won’t be able to believe in the empathy. In fact, it can sometimes leave you feeling less trusting.
Thank you again. I continue to be inspired by your writing.
March 25, 2013 at 11:14 PM
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! YES! you are right on the nose! How can I accept empathy when I feel shame? Shame was a part of the abuse put on me, empathy is what I got in return for giving more into the abuse.. so to be honest, empathy is a trigger for me. It means “ok, your being loving and caring, what do you want from me?”..
So yes I think brene’ Brown needs to start looking at people who understand people who have shame as a survival …
Thank you for this.. it really made me happy that someone GETS IT!