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.

grapes and cheese

and wine

he speaks with perfect diction
explaining the state of the climate

there are no solutions, he says
turning away
there’s no going back

a heaviness falls over the room
and so we eat more grapes, cheese and wine

great talk! says rich
striding over
eyes bright
his data is impeccable!

what’s the use of speaking
if there is no hope?
what’s the use of data
that spells doom?

I want data that feeds my soul
excites my mind
into drawing new connections

I want data that stirs me up
drives me forward
acting for a better future

I want data that changes the game
turns things upside down
in ways I’d never imagined possible

so I turn away from the wine, cheese, and grapes
away from the doomful data
and step out
into the night.

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