Silence and Shame

I tell my sister that she should tell her story, write it out and then post it on her Facebook wall and yet I’m terrified to tell mine.

I don’t want to tell anyone.  I want to keep it quiet, close to my heart.  I want to pretend that I don’t make mistakes, that I always acknowledge my privilege, that I’m perfect. I want silence.

I ran a workshop for a group of LGBTQ newcomers a couple of weeks ago on criminal law.  I was the organizer, the facilitator and the panel moderator.  I recruited the volunteers, set the agenda, chose the scenarios we would use.

And then after the workshop I got some feedback that one of my volunteers felt oppressed, that I didn’t do my job as the panel moderator in balancing which voices were heard and that several components of the workshop were disempowering for participants instead of being empowering.

And I said I was fine after I read it but part of me went into a spiral. I can’t do my job, I’m not good at my job, I’m actually just perpetuating the cycles of oppression that I thought I was trying to stop, I’m a bad person, I don’t deserve the good that I have in my life.  And these voices felt like they were strangling me.

black. sticky. strangling.

But I told myself I was fine and that I didn’t need to tell anyone, that I had come so far that I was beyond needing to tell others, or that they wouldn’t understand anyways.  Any and every story to convince me to keep silent.

But I’m not above shame.  And just because I lived at an ashram for two years doesn’t mean that now I’ve worked everything out and that I can fight all my battles on my own.  I still need help, I still need people to listen to my story, I still need empathy.

I am not invincible and I’m far from perfect.  I am trying so hard to create experiences that are empowering for participants and sometimes I fail.  This time – I made multiple mistakes. But that doesn’t mean that I give up and stop trying at all.

And so I am scared that I will fail again, but I am trying to learn from my mistakes and create something better.  I am trying to be brave and not listen to these voices that tell me to crawl into a hole and never to come out again. And I am trying to move out of silence and through the shame.

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