After some recent nonsense in my pain advocacy world, I'm thinking more and more about power and relationships and how to move forward
Dear Jo - I am grateful for this excellent and "powerful" article. I will share it far and wide.
Poet David Whyte wrote: “Pain’s beautiful humiliations make us naturally humble and force us to put aside the guise of pretense. In real pain we have no other choice but to learn to ask for help and on a daily basis. In real pain we often have nothing to give back other than our own gratitude”. Does this reflect what actually happens in real life? I think it is "hit or miss".
At the Australian Pain Society's ASM this year, I presented on vulnerability and pain in a topical session with some excellent ladies. Reading your article, it seems that what you have experienced as a person with chronic pain + pain advocate is “more than normal vulnerability.”
This is how I see the vulnerability landscape in the pain setting:
*"inherent vulnerability to pain" - sources of vulnerability that are inherent to the human condition. They arise from our embodiment, the human need for support and protection, and the impact of trauma or persistent noxious experiences on our quality of life.
*"situational vulnerability to pain" is context-specific. It is caused or exacerbated by the particular situation of a person or social group. It can be short term, intermittent, or enduring (e.g., the specific pain outcomes of people without a visa detained in closed immigration detention facilities).
*Finally, some responses to pain may exacerbate existing vulnerabilities to pain (above) or generate new vulnerabilities. These are "pathogenic vulnerabilities to pain". This source is “pathogenic” because it is generated through dysfunctional relationships based on disrespect, prejudice, or abuse, or by socio-political situations characterised by oppression, injustice, persecution, or political violence.
These vulnerabilities can overlap.
Would it be true to say that you have been targeted more by "pathogenic vulnerability"?
Thanks for writing as always Jo. I like to think that true person centred care is how mutual power is harnessed for the greater good.
Much like green washing is everywhere in regards to the environment, I think the same is true for person centred care. Therapists often seem to think they can sprinkle it on top of THEIR approach rather than acknowledging that the person at the centre is far more important than them and being ok with this so leaving their ego at the door.
People like you Jo, brave enough to honestly express their lived experience of what I try to help with are so so valuable because it helps me do a better job of understanding and keeping you at the centre.
Thanks and keep being you xx
Oh my god I LOVE this post!!! I especially love this quote you share with us:
"Speak up. Speak out. Get in the way. Get in good trouble, necessary trouble…"John Lewis
I really relate to the part of your blog about "just being happy to be here" and "put up to get a leg up" is sort of what I was taught. That was the feminism that I was taught, to sort shimmy up to power,but its also what I have come to learn is damaging in society. Because when we are close to power, but have no power, we might start to be territorial over our spaces. This is what I am learning from so many other activists and social scientists, white cis-woman feminism is exclusionary because it is power given, not power taken. A kind of 'gratefulness' exists that is problematic and harmful.
Thank you for sharing your experiences and ythe pieces that help you make sense of that and move forwards. I've found Ren's work to be so deeply moving too :)
It seems to me that community, honesty and vulnerability are the antidote to the ignorance, wretchedness and violence in our society right now. Its hard to hate someone you embrace.
Thanks for your writing, as always xx