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Heal Talk Real Talk: Vulnerability with Transcript

NDT Founders talked about vulnerability last week on Friday during Heal Talk Real Talk. Vulnerability can seem weak but it is important to be vulnerable to your loved ones so they can understand you better. Are you vulnerable with your loved ones? Don't forget to watch the next Heal Talk Real Talk with NDT Founders on Friday at 11:30 am MST. Make sure to add the event page to keep updated for future schedule.

[Transcript: NDT's Heal Talk, Real Talk Facebook Live with Megan & Amanda

Friday, 7/10/2020

11:30AM MST

>>AMANDA: Hi, everyone! I'm Amanda.

>>MEGAN: And I'm Megan. Hi!

>>AMANDA: Welcome to Heal Talk, Real Talk, or HTRT. This is a time where Megan and I, the Co-Founders of National Deaf Therapy, connect, and chat, and have a conversation -- a real personal conversation -- on many different levels, as business owners and therapists.

Well, it's been a while since we were last live.

>>MEGAN: Yeah, it's been a month!

>>AMANDA: That's right.

>>MEGAN: And there have been so many things. Well, I wanted to recognize the healing conversations we've had, and what things have looked like in therapy sessions. In real life, we want to share those. And we thought, "Why not include our audience?!"

People have reached out to us before, and they want things to be more accessible. Hey, we agree. We used to do Instagram Live, but we've switched to Facebook. It used to be that we'd add in the transcript later instead of having it immediately. So, that's why we put things on hold.

>>AMANDA: Right. For about a month.

>>MEGAN: Now, we have voice interpreters and CART. Those are our 2 big additions. So that was why the brief hiatus. Then, the Black Lives Matter protests were happening. That just let us take a pause and really think about things and be intentional.

What's the topic today?

>>AMANDA: With that being said, we decided to start Heal Talk, Real Talk and talk about vulnerability. Vulnerability's a powerful word that's come up in many conversations. In terms of mental health, the term vulnerability shows up a lot. Vulnerability is further and deeper, and applies to mental health on a personal, professional, and systematic level. So, Megan and I decided to stretch the perspective on vulnerability.

This was our process: To discuss us, as individuals, as a company, as therapists, you know, where do we stand? What's our take on this? Where are we going to go with this? Megan and I have had a lot of conversations, between ourselves and others. There are so many perspectives out there about being vulnerable. We wanted to start there before we dive in to vulnerability. Our agenda: We'll talk about the personal journey, the conversation, and the audience watching us. There's nothing scripted here. We just simply choose a topic that feels relevant. We may have some background information on it. It's a topic we'd like to dive into.

>>MEGAN: Right.

>>AMANDA: So this is raw. It's why we both check-in and check-out. So, that's what Heal Talk, Real Talk looks like.

So, first, let's check-in! How have things been? Where would you like to start?

>>MEGAN: I'm thinking . . . [Laughs]

>>AMANDA: Oh, I want to add one more thing about vulnerability, as part of the check-in as well as the check-out. Vulnerability has a place in each space. When we check-in, we have to be real about what's going on with us and what's led you to where you are now. Then, when we check out, we'll talk about our truths.

>>MEGAN: Right. Things leading up to now . . . I really feel like there should be a conversation about Black Lives Matter and the protests. My identity is: I'm navigating through all of that. Black Lives Matter isn't new. It's been a long time coming. And it's a well-deserved time for it to have time and attention. They do matter. All this new information coming out, a lot of stories are being spotlighted, and stories are being shared. Leading up to this I thought, "Oh yeah, I know. I know it all." But, there's so much I don't know.

National Deaf Therapy, we're part of the system. I feel like anything we do, automatically, is usually white-centric, right?

>>AMANDA: Right. That's how we learn things and incorporate things into our heart.

>>MEGAN: So, I looked at all that. How am I as a person? How am I with my family? [Laughs] There's so much to talk about. I feel like the first step to being committed to this work is really being vulnerable. What do I know, understand, and need to learn? I think it's important to have that conversation about why being vulnerable is so hard, too.

What's your experience leading up to this?

>>AMANDA: I've had a similar experience. You know, I've had my moments where I had to digest information. Really, I've been digesting a lot. Digestion is an important part of the process, and I never gave it space in the past.

>>MEGAN: Right. And sat with it.

>>AMANDA: Right. I've never sat with it. It's almost like tea, right? [ Screen freezes momentarily ]

>>MEGAN: Oh, I think you froze.

>>AMANDA: I froze? Can you see me?

>>MEGAN: It's back now.

>>AMANDA: If you think about tea, if you steep it for a short time, it doesn't sink in. It's important to let things sink in and digest. And you'll start feeling vulnerable. I asked myself, "Why didn't I think of this before? Why didn't I sit with this before? We are part of the system." And those are the thoughts I've had. Now I'm at a place where I'm ready to talk about vulnerability. Megan, we've talked about this in the past. We both agree that we need to be better. A huge part of being better is welcoming vulnerability and developing trust. So, we'll probably delve into that a little in the conversation today.

>>MEGAN: I was thinking about digesting today -- sitting, and digesting, and processing. I was thinking of it as forming National Deaf Therapy. The 2 of us becomes the 5 of us. We're learning things, growing. We're a new company. We hadn't dedicated time to sit and have a conversation before. Now, we're doing that. There's so much value that comes out of the process of setting intentions and setting the tone of the week. It's like, "Wow, why didn't we do this before? Why isn't it part of our general business practice?" We schedule meetings and all kinds of things; why not just schedule some time to sit and digest as part of our business process? We should, right?

>>AMANDA: We should!

>>MEGAN: Sit and be vulnerable. Business and vulnerability don't necessarily go hand in hand, but it should be! People would rather be working and doing stuff, probably, than just sitting there, being vulnerable and uncomfortable. Sitting there helps you realize what habits you have. Things come up, and you learn what you've been avoiding. Sometimes we're avoiding by working so much. It's like, "What am I avoiding?? Ahhh!"

>>AMANDA: Also, sitting helps me see my reactions and where they're coming from. That's an important part of understanding the world, and others, and the conversations we're having. To understand myself, how I show up, and interact with others, I need to understand my own reactions. If I don't sit and think about them, but I just react, is that productive? Healing? Am I creating harm? When we think about our business or personal lens as a therapist, we need to know about our own reactions.

>>MEGAN: Why is vulnerability so hard?!

>>AMANDA: I have thought about that a lot. My thoughts always go to: At the end of the day, it always connects to trauma. How did I see and understand things? How did I delve into this world as a therapist? We all have a story, with our own belief system, history, and narratives. All of those things make us who we are -- all of those layers. Sometimes we're blocked to being vulnerable. Or, maybe, there are areas in our lives where we can be vulnerable, and other areas where we cannot be vulnerable. Why is it different? We're all working, and processing, and . . . you know, why is vulnerability so hard?

Backing up a little bit . . .

[Amanda's screen freezes momentarily]

>>MEGAN: Hold on, Amanda. Okay, you're back. You froze. But you're okay now.

>>AMANDA: Okay. Let's think about the system for a bit. The system is how we learn fear, what's right and wrong, and how we set expectations of "things should go this way, not that way." And, also, we learn what to be vulnerable about and what not to be vulnerable about. Who decides that? It's the system.

>>MEGAN: Right?! I really appreciate that.

One of our followers at the Racism Recovery Center, April, talked about something that goes right with what you're saying: performative allyship. Like, noticing that, now, I'm in a conversation with white or black people. You think, "I need to do this, so I don't make any mistakes. I don't want people to look at me, thinking that I did this wrong." Why? We're trying to avoid hurt. We don't want to make mistakes. We're thinking, "I don't want to be hurt." But, actually, I need to check in with myself, hold space, have the conversation, and be vulnerable.

"I don't want to hurt you," versus, "I don't want to make a mistake" . . . those two conversations are so different, right?

>>AMANDA: YES!

If people see, and we use that lens, then we can recognize the system is so embedded. We learn that: "I can't make a mistake." "I need to look good." "I can't be wrong." "If I'm wrong, I'm done." You know, I'm interested to learn which part of the the system that came from. I'm very curious about that. That's the way for me to understand things: to look for the root and dismantle it.

That's another word coming up a lot during the Black Lives Matter movement. I didn't use "dismantle" and "decolonize" before. Our system, our way of doing things . . . what a way of thinking. These words, decolonize and dismantle . . . I'd like to find the root and dismantle it.

>>MEGAN: Yes. Years, and years, and years of that. I'm just thinking shame is so predominant in this culture. Shame, as compared to guilt. Guilt is, "I did a bad thing." Shame is, "I am a bad person." We feel a lot of that growing up, being brainwashed into shame for something I did or something I shouldn't have done. Shame has to do with what I am as a person. If I get feedback, and I'm vulnerable, I'm open as a person, with shame, you could feel you are unworthy. But, with guilt, you can frame it as, "I did a bad thing."

>>AMANDA: Yeah, why are those connected?!

>>MEGAN: It's powerful. It makes it so that we can feel both things.

>>AMANDA: That is where white privilege comes up, in terms of, "I am a failure," or "I need to be perfect." The shame, compared to guilt. There's so much power in that. And it's fascinating how it simply exists. So, I have to look inside. There are a lot of things that [ video froze for a few moments ] . . . that's where the work needs to be. And that work requires vulnerability. So, we're back to that. If we want to do this work, but we're not vulnerable, we simply can't do the work.

>>MEGAN: You're so right.

>>AMANDA: It's disconnected. You won't actually do the work. If it's all about being perfect and taking a look at me, that's not good.

>>MEGAN: Yes, and you'll still hurt people.

>>AMANDA: And I don't want to hurt people!

>>MEGAN: Ooh, a lot to think about there.

I'm just thinking: What have I noticed about myself? Thinking back to performative allyship, I've seen that come up a lot lately. You have to ask yourself: What trauma has been triggered to cause some of this? Me, in my personal life, I have a fear of abandonment and being alone. I mean, in the past. If my white friends had a different opinion, or it was a challenging discussion, I didn't want them not to like me or them to leave me out. So, I definitely did performative allyship. But, not in all aspects of my life. I don't necessarily get along with these specific people. If I'm with my friends or family, I know where my boundaries are.

But, again, I have to be vulnerable so that I can . . . I remember, one time, telling someone, "You know, I don't want this fear of abandonment anymore. I'd like to have a conversation with you." They said, "Me too!" It was like, "Okay, great!" So, let's try to be in a space where we have a conversation. It's a work in progress. I have to recognize where my traumas are. I'm not afraid of being abandoned in the workplace; it's with personal loved ones. Where's my trauma with that? So, it has to be the performative allyship.

>>AMANDA: Right. You have to show up. If you have fear -- and, I also have fear . . . I grew up with bullying, that's my childhood story -- I don't always dive into those conversations, or I'll even just sit there quietly. If I could go back to work on, again, our trauma and triggers, that can simply become our story. We have to recognize that other people have their stories and trauma. I don't have to make it all about me. That's where those conversations happen, where I share my stories and they share theirs. If I stay inward, it's a missed opportunity. Share your vulnerability, like you did: "I want to have this conversation, but I'm afraid of X, Y, or Z." That's a HUGE step. Maybe that's where we can start, with being vulnerable in different conversations that are meaningful and heavy. You know, everyone has their story. They're all important. If I just focus on my story, society won't go anywhere.

>>MEGAN: Hmm. And then, that relates to -- well, I don't know if people are necessary talking about that, but the concept of having a safe space. Now, a 100% safe space, is there really such a thing? I don't know.

>>AMANDA: You froze. Can you say that again?

>>MEGAN: Sure. Vulnerability, and having a safe space that's 100% safe, may not be possible, really, but it's something that we can create within each other -- to be able to open up, and have those vulnerable conversations, and see what that looks like.

>>AMANDA: We did talk about this briefly before. What comes up is trust. You know, a lot of communities don't relate to white community members because there's no trust. There's no relationship. And, again, vulnerability can show up there. It's really making me think. You know, I feel like vulnerability and trust are related. Like, right now, you and I are talking, and we have an audience. We do have an audience watching this conversation. And, we're showing vulnerability. But, right now do I trust whoever's watching us? Maybe not. But I still am going to be vulnerable.

>>MEGAN: That's an interesting thought. You know, maybe it depends on what's already been processed. Yeah, what's already been processed in . . . potentially, you have the perspective of -- hmm, let me see how I'll say this; feeling secure isn't the right word -- but, maybe your perspective isn't affecting my take on this experience. Or, I have some experiences I haven't processed. Whereas, your view might affect my view on the experience. So, "Let's see, yeah, I'd be interested in your feedback, your view." That kind of thing.

>>AMANDA: Right, when we let go of being self-absorbed.

Does vulnerability have to have trust alongside it? You know, being vulnerable and letting go of trust, we may learn a lot through that process. Developing a relationship . . . vulnerability is an important part of a healing relationship. If someone doesn't trust me, I have to respect that. The person may have a valid reason not to trust me. So, for me not to be vulnerable until there's trust, that's problematic.

>>MEGAN: I just thought of that. We have the privilege of being vulnerable without having that trust. But, we're impacted differently compared to other people.

>>AMANDA: That's so true.

>>MEGAN: I think we'll never not have that trust within the community, the support system. You know, I have my people, my community. That helps me heal. I imagine everyone needs their own support system. That's important, to be able to process. But, yes, in terms of vulnerability, it's on us white people -- or, non-black people -- to be vulnerable. It's, like, what are we afraid of? [Laughs] What are we afraid of losing?

>>AMANDA: Exactly! That's the frame. We should think about vulnerability in that frame. We have to let that go. What the system taught us isn't healthy. It'll just keep us divided. We, as white people, need to take that first step.

>>MEGAN: Right.

>>AMANDA: Yeah. So that's what we're doing here and now in this conversation. This is a vulnerable space. You know, where, how, and why do we start these conversations? Heal Talk, Real Talk, you know, this was the whole idea. But we're certainly getting deeper and deeper with these conversations, and it does need to start with vulnerability.

>>MEGAN: Right.

Just thinking here: Trust . . . vulnerability . . . anything else that's coming up for me, in terms of vulnerability? Within dialogue with other people, having an experience, being called in, or someone saying, "I feel we've had a conflict before. We need to talk about that." What does that process look like?

>>AMANDA: Well, to be honest, I haven't had anyone approach me about that. I'm sure because they don't approach me . . . I'm sure there's been a moment where someone says, "Don't say that or don't do that." You know, how to be an anti-racist when we're all racist? I have to acknowledge that no one has approached me. What does that say? That means I've not welcomed it. I need to create that space. And part of that is, I have to lead with vulnerability. I need to say, "It's okay to make a mistake, and I recognize my racism." And another person might think, "Ok, that's where you are." So, I just have to continue sitting, listening, digesting. I have to remind myself to re-frame things. It's not about me. To be vulnerable is for the healing of our communities.

>>MEGAN: Yes, healing our community. I saw a black deaf panel a few weeks back. They were talking about how to create a safe space, and creating a space within our area to show up. And they mentioned vulnerability. And I remember people being like, "Uhhhh . . . hmm . . ." I'm the only person who's not black in the room. How many people have experienced that? You know, everyday these people show up in our spaces. So, how about we show up in theirs? Vulnerability is part of the experience and healing that takes place. Then, think to yourself about why you didn't want to show up. "Because I didn't want to be alone." Oh, that's right back to my own issue, right?

>>AMANDA: Right! This space is our space, and this is our dialogue. And we can put this conversation . . .

>>MEGAN: I mean, we've had dialogues. We've thought about inviting others into our space. And, again, it's our space, but it's not about us. NBDA, there's been a lot of conversations with them. We're trying to support and amplify them. Instead of worrying about it . . . before, it was, like, not being sure and wondering what to do. So, we need to talk through this -- be accountable and talk about these things. Yes, we need to share stories, and listen to them, but we also have to know what we're responsible for. And, we're responsible for vulnerability.

>>AMANDA: Sorry to interrupt. I'm looking at the time now.

And, I think my video froze . . .

>>MEGAN: You did for a little bit, but you're back.

>>AMANDA: Okay, great. Now that we have interpreters, time is a little bit limited compared to previous HTRTs. Let's look at the comments and see if we have any. I guess not.

>>MEGAN: Okay. Well, we'll be doing this on Fridays going forward. We'll talk about a variety of different topics. And, we'll talk about our roles and responsibilities as different topics come up in conversations that might relate to mental health directly. And, healing. And, we believe in doing the work that needs to happen.

>>AMANDA: That's right. At this point, we need to continue this conversation.

>>MEGAN: So, to check-out, how are you feeling about today's conversation, Amanda?

>>AMANDA: Well, I still have a lot of work to do. And this comes from a place of continuing to digest, and sit, and listen. And I need to continue to think about vulnerability and how to process it. And, frankly, do the work. You know, where does that work take place? What does it look like?

One part of HTRT is to continue this conversation. With friends, family, coworkers, at our company NDT, even on Facebook and social media -- in every little part of life -- systematic racism is so deeply rooted. It's frankly overwhelming. How do you dismantle something like that? I mean, we're a company. We have to buy insurance! But, insurance companies are rooted in systemic racism. But, so many community members need insurance.

>>MEGAN: Right. Everyone has to have insurance!

>>AMANDA: But they don't have insurance! And what do we do? And, then, we're giving money to them, to a racist system? So, where do we go from there? I just have a lot of thoughts.

>>MEGAN: I was thinking about grad school, and getting licensed, and that process.

>>AMANDA: Absolutely. Think about the books we read.

>>MEGAN: Right. Relating that back, mental health companies should really widen the lens and see what that looks like. And then, dig into and see . . . well, you know, I think about black indigenous people of color who got their graduate degree, their Master’s Degree, and have totally different experiences than I did. Where they ended up impacted their mental health service because of how they were treated and such. We're responsible for how we show up for people, how we connect with black indigenous people of color, and the black community, and black therapists. So, I think that we need to elevate them and lift them up. We have a responsibility to do that.

>>AMANDA: Yes, we do.

>>MEGAN: I mean, we don't have all of the answers. I'm learning, listening, and will continue to do so. And it's a process.

>>AMANDA: I'd like to add one more thing before we wrap up: [Video froze] Maybe some of the community members aren't really agreeing with this conversation. And, I want to let everyone know: We are open to your feedback. We want to grow. This is how we grow. So, we definitely welcome your thoughts and feedback. And, honestly, we don't know shit! Yet, we know we have a responsibility to dismantle and navigate. And, to navigate requires vulnerability. And that's where we're starting right now.

>>MEGAN: Right. Yeah. Right on! Well, thank you for being vulnerable, Amanda.

>>AMANDA: Thank you for being vulnerable, Megan.

Well, it's been a long time since our last HTRT. It really feels good.

>>MEGAN: Yeah. And I look forward to future, upcoming ones.

>>AMANDA: All right, we'll see you next Friday at 11:30 AM Mountain Time.

I think we had a comment? Oh, no, never mind!

Thanks so much everyone!

>>MEGAN: Perfect.]

>>AMANDA: Goodbye, everyone!

>>MEGAN: Bye!

[Heal Talk, Real Talk ends]