(Disclaimer: This transcript is using AI technology. Please excuse any errors.)
Welcome to the Atheists in Recovery Podcast, where we talk about finding hope in recovery. And now your host, Dr. Adina Silvestri
Adina Silvestri 0:12
Hola Atheists in Recovery, and welcome to Episode 105 of the Atheists in Recovery podcast, and today is an interview with muah with me, the tables have been turned. And as you can hear, at least in the beginning, I'm definitely a little bit nervous about this. It's a topic that I've probably run from my entire life. And that's vulnerability. And
this episode is a q&a and why I think vulnerability sucks. And I don't think I'm alone in that feeling.
What made me even want to start to address it head on, where I am now.
With vulnerability, and let me tell you, it's it's a work in progress, it is a work in progress.
I also talked about one way that I've learned to really work through my vulnerability, and that's with writing and writing has become a huge part of my life. So we talk a little bit about that as well. And I've sort of came up with this quote, it's probably a combination of a few quotes. But I think of writing as a creative act of internal disruption, because it brings everything out.
And you start to make connections with your former self, and your current self. And you start to see how, at least for me, I started to see how vulnerability really
led to, you know, failed relationships, failed friendships, professionally, there was a lot there that I could have done better, if only I would have just leaned into my vulnerability. And also,
I'm hoping that people take away from this episode that
you can walk through vulnerability to and I think a lot of society. I think society sort of deals with vulnerability in a couple different ways. One is we try and numb it, we try and numb vulnerability, we try to numb the the guilt and the shame and the in the fear. And then we also try and control it through certainty, you know, and we can see that just through
our political system alone.
You know, this is the way I think about things. This is the way I feel and
End of story.
So let's talk about my interviewer. And, Tim, my interviewer actually told me at the end of this episode, that in his oral histories, he doesn't talk a lot, he just lets the individual just talk and so you're gonna hear that there's not a lot of dialogue. And that's one reason why there isn't a lot of dialogue in this one, but I'm sure they'll be a round 2 like I said, I'm not. I'm no vulnerability expert. And so, I'm hoping that this episode, helps in some small way to get you to think about
addressing your own vulnerability. Okay.
Tim Hensley. Tim is the director of collections at the Virginia Holocaust Museum. Tim's career began as an oral historian and his work with his oral histories continues with his position at the Virginia Holocaust Museum. He regularly writes and presents at conferences on museum theory, genocide studies, community archives and oral histories. In addition to his work at the Virginia Holocaust Museum he has so he has also served as the board of directors for several local nonprofits who do aid work in post genocide regions in Africa. He spends some of his free time along with a small group of fellow archivists, collecting large social media data sets to provide documentation of current social events, historians and social scientists. His current project is collecting datasets for Virginia's 2021 election cycle, and he is also my very close friend. Alright guys onto the show.
Tim Hensley, welcome to the show.
Tim Hensley 4:35
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Adina Silvestri 4:37
So you are here in a very different kind of episode where I'm going to be the one answering the questions and I'm slightly nervous, but I'm less nervous because we are close friends.
So at least I hope we are
And I brought you on because I thought that you'd be a good person to interview me. You know me really well. You do this for a living. As I've mentioned in the intro, you're an archivist and you do oral histories. And so this is going to be a piece of cake for you.
Tim Hensley 5:17
Well, I hope so.
Adina Silvestri 5:19
Yeah. Should we tell the listeners how we met? As a lead in?
Tim Hensley 5:26
We met playing football, right? I think so. Yeah.
So what it was?
Adina Silvestri 5:30
Tim Hensley 5:31
And my NFL days are sadly over now. But that's how we met when I first moved to Richmond, like 19 years ago, maybe?
Yeah, that I mean, that sounds about right. I mean, we were it was probably
2005, maybe, something like that. Wow, that we met 2005 or 2006? I would think. Yeah. And we were, we were playing on a co Ed.
You know, flag football team. Right? Right.
Adina Silvestri 6:01
That's been history from there on out.
Okay, so you're here to do a little q&a with me about a journey that I've been on recently, just sort of identifying my origin story, and really, sort of helping me to shape my perspective on my life. And in also,
helping others hopefully, at the end of this agonizing interview will be to help others see that, even though vulnerability does suck. There's purpose behind it.
Tim Hensley 6:44
That's correct. So So why don't we? Why don't we jump in? Yeah. And since we're talking about vulnerability, and the difficulties associated with it, why don't you start by explaining to us what vulnerability means in this particular context?
Adina Silvestri 7:03
So when I think of vulnerability, I think of rotten eggs and the smell of ash and slimy words and all these beautiful images. But when I really, if I were to put it into words, you know, it would be
showing up as your authentic self showing up when it's difficult, showing up when you don't know what the outcome is going to be
showing up and not knowing if people are going to stay with you or leave you. So showing up with within an open heart.
Tim Hensley 7:45
Can you tell us what was happening that made you realize that you might need to address your own vulnerability? Yeah.
Adina Silvestri 7:56
this is a tough one, because I know that it goes all the way back to childhood. But if I were to,
to talk a little bit about just recent events, we don't want to get too deep here, at least not the first go round, right? So it would be when I started my work, my hypnotherapy training.
I started this hypnotherapy training. And part of the process was that you as the therapist had to be hypnotized. And so I went three days just going in and out of trance. And what I saw was my
more felt was my inability to let go, my inability to be present in the moment, not wanting to talk about the hard stuff. At one point, I almost threw up. I mean, I was literally in a fistfight with vulnerability. So, you know, the more you have a problem, the more you're fighting the vulnerability, obviously, the more you have a problem with it. So that's, that's probably more recently,
when I knew that I needed to start working on some of this stuff.
My motto, sort of growing up was that you figure out the messy and then you somehow get rid of it.
So I started my career not as a therapist, but but I was on track. To work in forensics in the federal marshals, I eventually wanted to be at the FBI. You know, I had all of my internships were in the forensics population. I really loved the deviant mind, I loved going in figuring it out. And then I wanted to put it to rest I wanted to move on. And so
then, I realized that when I was in my counseling program,
the opposite was true. It was and I wasn't very comfortable with this in the beginning. It was
Life is messy, dig in and embrace it.
And so that was just a very different message. And I didn't feel as comfortable in that program as I did in the forensic population where I where I wanted to start.
Tim Hensley 10:15
And that's actually that's a pretty good lead on to the next question, because
coming from that point of view, and wanting to, and moving into something completely different.
Yeah, you obviously, were handling things in a different way. So can you? Can you talk a little bit about how you previously handled vulnerability?
Adina Silvestri 10:38
Yeah, I didn't want to deal with it. I mean, I would literally sort of run from it kicking and screaming. It wasn't comfortable. I grew up in a family that really the motto was, suck it up.
And you know, and very,
yeah, that was like, that was like a very common saying.
And so I would deal with vulnerability by, you know, anger was one way, like, anger would certainly come out in me.
Just Just not wanting to deal with that fear, or that.
That place of uncertainty.
Tim Hensley 11:25
Having grown up myself, you know, obviously, in the 1970s. Am I wrong? But this, this seems like a very, even if you had a good home life, even if your home life was as close to what people would refer to as normal as possible. Isn't that really kind of house society that was a societal idea is that you would just kind of deal with it.
Adina Silvestri 11:54
Yeah. Now, I think you're right, you would just write, you would just sort of deal with it. And then move on to the next thing. Now I hear that actually, pretty often. So yeah, I would agree with that.
Tim Hensley 12:07
So how do you approach your vulnerability now?
Adina Silvestri 12:13
Yeah, so it's, it's been a process. And that's why I wanted to have this episode where I talk about it, because by no means my vulnerability expert at this point. But
you know, I feel like we use stories as reminders as protection. As prevention, I mean, even to the littlest example of, you know, asking my partner for help with something still feels very vulnerable, and, and hard to do at times. But
I would say,
the journey with the hypnotherapy, and then to
my clients, who I feel in a lot of ways are vulnerability heroes, to this podcast, this very public facing entity where
there's not a lot of room to hide,
you are Come as you are on this, on this medium. And so
I think that
I'm learning to
just sort of show up
in a more authentic way.
By writing, so I'm doing a lot of writing that I've, that I've never done before. And if you're
new to the podcast, you'll see some other writings if you subscribe to the newsletter, so that's how I'm dealing with it.
connection, I think,
when I feel those feelings sort of come up into my body, you know that and I know what it feels like, you know, it's, it's gonna be different for everyone, but it's like lump in my throat.
Then I just sort of have to take a deep breath. And what's the worst that can happen? I think I've
cried this past year in front of way too many strangers.
I mean, that's, that's been nice, because, you know, here's the thing with vulnerability.
Connection is what's going to get us through.
Connection is what gives meaning to our lives. And I know that from just looking at my writings and thinking through the different really difficult parts of my life.
That's being accepted for who I was. It has gotten me through what I like.
Look at my clients, the more protective factors they have,
the easier it is for them to keep living.
You know, so I know that
that connection is a big part of it. In my relationships, you know, I feel like they're deeper.
When I'm showing up
when I want to run when I'm showing up in an authentic way, when I just want to run, and hide.
So those are a few examples. I think the writing really has helped, though. And it's that writing and then hearing other people
talk about their stories, and thinking Holy shit.
What? You're my new, you're my new hero. So I'm I guess I'm collecting heroes these days.
Tim Hensley 15:55
Can you talk a little bit about your writing is this.
I'm assuming this is this is nonfiction writing. For the most part,
Adina Silvestri 16:04
yeah, it's for the most part nonfiction writing. And so it's the process. And this could be any process. But this is just the process that this group is using is there'll be a prompt, and they'll give you a prompt Like, right now I am or what I wish I would I wish I told you is and then you write for 10 minutes, and stop. And then everybody in the group shares the writing. And so it's not unlike mutual help groups, really, there's no agenda.
And it's just a really safe place.
So that's, that's sort of the structure of the writing group. I don't know if that's helpful or not, but and then, you know, just looking at some of these, you know, I've been doing this for now, two years, I think. And so the first time I did the writing group,
I was, I was nowhere near writing, when I'm writing now, it was just me sort of observing and in sort of dipping my big toes in. But recently, I've really just sort of jumped in the deep end, and my writing has really, I think,
shown where I am in the stage of life, and also, the stories that I told myself. And that's the other really awesome thing about writing is that you're able to look at where you were, and then where you are now and then where you want to go. And so the stories that maybe helps keep you alive when you were younger, aren't the stories that are helping you at all right now. And so
I think that's the other thing that I really love about writing is, you're able to start to put those public those puzzle pieces together to form this narrative of who I am right now, which of course changes all the time. But yeah.
Tim Hensley 18:00
So it really comes out as a form of journaling.
Adina Silvestri 18:03
Tim Hensley 18:04
yeah, yeah. Okay, sir. Anything else you want to share?
Adina Silvestri 18:10
You know, just sort of to remind people that you don't have to be a writer, I don't identify as a writer, just sort of start this process, you just have to put pen to paper.
And then when you feel comfortable, just start to share it.
Just share it with anyone,
anyone that you feel comfortable sharing with, because I think that's also
how we're able to connect, you know, I see your pain and I see who you are. And I'm here, you know, and I'm here anyway, I'm not going anywhere.
And I think a lot of the people that come to see me have a problem with that with the unlovable parts of themselves, the unblocking parts.
And that's, I think, one way to overcome that is to know that you are loved and you do belong. And, you know, this is just one way to start that process.
Tim Hensley 19:18
Adina Silvestri 19:19
I'm sure there'll be a part two to this. And
so stay tuned, everyone. I think that the podcast also is going to change a little bit in the upcoming months. And so look to the newsletter for information on that because
because, yeah, we're about to Sucker Punch, shame. And
I know that it's a problem that everybody has.
And I feel like if we could just show up and
Which is something that I think happens throughout society, not not try to control the outcome, like we see in politics and religion, but
to just show up and connect.
I think that it will be just a very different place. So, anyway, I'll stop there.
Thanks again, Tim, for interviewing me.
Tim Hensley 20:28
Absolutely. It's my pleasure.
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“Vulnerability smells like rotten eggs, feels like slimy fish, tastes like ash.”
“I was literally in a fist fight with vulnerability. And I knew at that point that I needed to start working on this.”
“Writing is a creative act of internal disruption”
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