This past week my therapist suggested that I read “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brené Brown, a book that explores how to cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to embrace your imperfections and to recognize that you are enough. The topic of feeling imperfect and not feeling like I am enough was the reason behind her suggesting this book, and I have to say that it is one of the best books I’ve read in a while that has been both informative with research, and hiliarious.
This week the author discussed about feeling ashamed, and most of you know that is one of the things most survivors feel after they have been assaulted. These 6 types of reactions I have found to be extremely accurate when it came to me telling my assault to certain individuals and recieving these reactions. So I wanted to share some of the types of vulnerability and shame with you guys today that Brené Brown discovered during her research on Shame and Vulnerability, which I found off of Huffington Post.
The friend who actually feels shame for you, gasps and confirms how horrified you should be.
I’m not sure I have to explain this one as we’ve all experienced this at some point. Just don’t do this if someone opens up to you.
The friend who responds with sympathy (“I feel so sorry for you.”) rather than empathy (“I get it, I feel with you and I’ve been there.”)
Personally, I would rather talk to individuals that are empathetic when it comes to my assualt. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I don’t know a single rape victim that wants to have people feel sorry for them. I want you to be empathetic when I tell you about my triggers, my anxiety or depression, and so on.
The friend who needs you to be the pillar of worthiness and authenticity, who can’t help because she’s too disappointed in your imperfections.
Now this is topic that I wasn’t sure about at first, so I had to think about it for a while after reading this section. This is the kind of person that probably has only seen you in your stronger moments, and can’t possibly see you as a weak individual in any way. They can’t possibly see you as fragile, worthless, or any other kind of imperfection.
The friend who is so uncomfortable with vulnerability that she scolds, “How did you let this happen?”
This reaction happened too many times to count when I told my story, and I still get as a reaction to this day. We even see this on social media right now when it comes to anyone in Hollywood telling their story, or any government official being charged with sexual assault/harrassment.
The friend who is all about making it better and, out of her own discomfort, refuses to acknowledge that you can actually make terrible choices (“You’re exaggerating. It wasn’t that bad.”)
Now these people frustrate me beyond measure. I hope no one will do this to any of you.
The friend who confuses connection with the opportunity to one-up you. (“Well, that’s nothing. Listen what happened to me…”)
If you ever have someone confide in you about their shame, vulunerabilities or story, please do not compare your problems or issues. Listen to what they have to say, be empathetic and supportive when it comes to responsing to them telling you their experience.
All of these resonated with me on a huge level, and in a way that I never really thought of before. I had always known that people reaction in different ways in my situation, but these types of reactions to shame and vulnerability are pretty universal and this is only one the 1st disc of her audiobook, “The Gifts of Imperfection”. I have already learned so much from her book in the short amount of time that I’ve had it in my possession, and it’s only one of her books she’s written in the past years.
If these types of shame and vulnerability also resonate with you, please look at borrowing the book from the library or buying it for yourself. It isn’t a How-To book, but rather a book that helps us as human beings cultivate the feelings of courage, compassion and connection with one another and within ourselves. Also in the comments, let me know if you have ever experienced this types of reaction in any other situation other than sexual assault, and how you responded to those individuals. I’d love to know how you handled the response!
From The Ashes,
The Rising Phoenix