In Life and in Restorative Justice, shame is a gift; feeling and friendship lead to healing.

A good night’s rest really helps me out.  I’ve got one of those monkey minds.  A “monkey mind” is a Buddist term, rather than staying in the present moment, my thoughts leap from one to another as a monkey leaps from tree to tree.  When I first wake up, I get a moment before the monkey jumping begins!  This morning, things merged and I realized the gift of shame.  Three things merged for me, concepts of shame, a book of stories and a lesson in friend-ing.

From Brene Brown, I learned shame, is the fear of disconnection.  I also learned that the less you talk about it the more you have it.  I love Brene Brown,  here is her TED TALK, “The power of vulernability”, I highly recommend viewing it.  I wrote a blog post and shared her work, earlier this year.

In that context and understanding of shame, I am reading “Wounded Warriors A Time For Healing” by Doyle Arbogast.   From the back cover:

14 personal stories of Native Americans whose pathway to healing has been found
within the beauty and spirituality of their own cultural heritage.  Their lives today reflect responsibility, honor,
and dignity.

I experience life deeply and I have to read these stories
slowly.  The trauma related is real, severe and very directly related to the reader. I get overwhelmed with emotion when the story gets to the ‘watershed
moment’, the decision to pursue healing, sobriety and the embracing of cultural values and spiritual practice.  I believe those individual decisions, those moments of change are miracles.

Similar to the miracles that can happen in Restorative Justice, a moment of deciding that healing is the path.  I blog about this further in the post: The will to live is the will to heal.  We marvel at the miracle a caterpillar makes to a butterfly and we as humans can make those transformations at any time! (Took that from a recent Facebook update).

The third thing that helped me realize that shame is a gift, was a gift in itself.  I’ve been told about a Native American tradition, belief or practice, not exactly sure what you would call it, it is connected to the book above.  Our basic responses, fight, flight, freeze, you read about those responses all the time.  There is a fourth, to friend.  To friend that thing, to reach out your hand, to shake hands, to get to know it, to find out as much as you can, to treat it kindly.  This concept made sense and resonates with me.  The individuals in the stories shared in Wounded Warriors, have gone on to help others as counselors, mentors, educators.   The sharing of their stories, was part of their healing process.  They experienced the feelings to get to healing.   I believe the friend-ing process was part of the feeling.

The gift of shame, is that it points us to what we need to friend.  The gift of shame is that it lets us know
where our disconnection is felt.  Shame lets us know where our healing can be found.

This is a personal and professional intersection.  As Restorative Justice practitioners we can help others and help ourselves with this knowledge.  To help ourselves and others, we need to become comfortable with shame, our own and others. Restorative Justice is about healing.  Healing is fascinating, simple and complex.  Healing is individual and universal.

This monkey just sat on a branch with shame, and neither of us left the same.