There are some jobs such as author, law enforcement, some professions where their practitioners are either responsible to treat or understand problems, or to respond to and contain them; or they are seen by others as possessing superior knowledge and wisdom, and there is the perception by themselves or others that they should be able to do so.
I think that the people who go into this work, feel that about themselves. That they SHOULD be able to produce and to rear children whose behavior does not EXPLODE all over the family and community. Of course, nobody can control life to this extent. But still we have the expectation of ourselves, that we should have been able to do better. There is shame.
I know I have felt great shame. It took me the longest time to realize that the shame began well before the distress with my son. The shame is my own to bear, to resolve, to put to rest. The shame is a gift, I have come to learn.
Greta Thunberg was on TV last night. I had only paid peripheral attention to her, until now. But I had heard that she had had psychological problems, so I read further.
Prior to beginning her climate protest she had been a selective mute. She did NOT speak. She was diagnosed with Asperger's. She had been bullied in school and she had been depressed. There was a triggering event for her, when she responded to specific scientific findings about the climate (I don't remember this minute, what they were) when she began to speak. And in this way she found her voice and herself.
Thank you Copa, You are always spot on!
And with that too her whole family changed. Her mother had been an opera singer, but both parents decided to follow Greta's lead. The mother curtailed all flying in airplanes, for example. And both parents began to center their own lives and the family as a whole on the needs and the vulnerabilities and the power of their two children. (Their other daughter has ADHD.)
Which is to say, they unified around the idea of vulnerability. Which is a real paradox. Greta insisted upon rebelling against mistreatment. As if she was on strike, by not speaking, as long as she was excluded. And through identifying with the vulnerability of the planet, she was able to find her own power and voice. And give the vulnerable planet, a voice, too.
But the thing is, even for Greta there was shame and fear, that had endured. The first time she was with a group of her peers, who in fact adored her, she retreated behind a pillar, to compose herself, finding the courage to be present. She was afraid. After a few minutes she found herself. That's us, too.
I am trying to let this penetrate. How does this apply to myself, my son, my family? My son is nearly double Greta's age. Had I responded differently to his distress, could this all be different? Had I circled the wagons, instead of reacting with shame, could I have kept him inside the circle, and myself too?
It's too late for all of that, because those questions give rise only to more pain. But I am trying to let this settle. The idea that the acceptance of distress and pain and difference and limitation, the feeling of it, and not the denial of it, or externalization of it, begins and mobilizes healing, for ourselves and for others too.
If you think about it, that's the basis of this site. All of us, each of us, begin with confessions about the truth of what's going on. It is like this great purge or heave, almost beyond our control. When we get here, that's where we are. It's gotten so bad we have to expel it somehow, someplace. And with that public disclosure, we begin the healing process. And with that, too, we give others the opportunity to work through their own pain and healing, through integrating our own pain and recovery into their own process. We model to each other this same process, as Greta is doing for climate.
What I am trying to say is that this is heroic and important work we do here. There is no room for shame here.