“Shit for Brains”

Everyone was sitting comfortably. He stood up.  He was a tall, strapping, good-looking redhead young man of 18. We were discussing parenting and the good and bad we experienced. Emotionally, yet under control, he stated: “When I was four, my mom told me, ‘You have shit for brains.”’ 

Stone silence in the classroom.

He had lived with this terrible hurt keeping it a secret until that moment. Five simple one-syllable words and he owned a psychologically devastating burden without a “Get-Out-of-Jail Card.” And the source of the pain was supposed to be his number one protector from life’s cruelties. Fortunately, his fellow students fully supported him and started to reveal emotional hurts they had never told before in any public place. He seemed relieved to unburden himself. With every supportive comment about his courage and how tough his childhood must have been, he relaxed a bit more.

As heartbreaking as his story was, he had taken a big, it was a first step towards healing. In that instant of confession, he had broken the spell that had haunted him for nearly his whole young life. 

Our class had learned to become more aware and compassionate that day. And we re-learned about the powerful hurt that words can trigger. 

I was stunned and grateful. When a human exposes a hidden and deep vulnerability, it is a powerful moment. Not only for the storyteller, but for the listener who can identify. Empathy results. It is the way we are neurologically wired. 

I was grateful for the students, not only for their support, but how expressive they were in their support for an environment where this young man felt safe enough to candidly express a dark secret