An “Incident” Revealed

In my last blog I wrote about my “incident” and how “unpacking” it helped me embrace what happened to me as a child. Having worked with it for years, I’ve developed an antennae for ferreting out people’s defining moments. It’s not like I’m on the look-out for it; when you spend enough time with someone, it automatically shows up in their conversation. Then I can’t help myself, I start poking around and asking questions if I feel like they may be stuck or would be interested in seeing something about themselves. In course work and in one-on-one, I’ve heard hundreds of intimate and touching stories others have been willing to share. Authors bring it out (often unknowingly) in every good story told. It’s often the whole point of a book or a movie, buried in a scene, usually at the beginning, but sometimes near the end. It’s also the whole point of our life. Here is what I believe Oprah revealed to be hers.

Oprah Winfrey (54th EMMY Awards speech)
“I grew up in Nashville with a father who owned a barbershop, Winfrey’s Barber Shop; he still does, I can’t get him to retire. And every holiday, all of the transients and the guys who I thought were just losers who hung out at the shop, and were always bumming haircuts from my father and borrowing money from my dad, all those guys always ended up at our dinner table. They were a cast of real characters—it was Fox and Shorty and Bootsy and Slim. And I would say, ‘Bootsy, could you pass the peas please?’ And I would often say to my father afterwards, ‘Dad, why can’t we just have regular people at our Christmas dinner?’ because I was looking for the Currier & Ives version. And my father said to me, ‘They are regular people. They’re just like you. They want the same thing you want.’ And I would say, ‘What?’ And he’d say, ‘To be fed.'”

Oprah_W_Logo“At the time, I just thought he was talking about dinner. But I have since learned how profound he really was, because we all are just regular people seeking the same thing. We all just want to know that we matter. We want validation. We want the same things. We want safety and we want to live a long life. We want to find somebody to love. We want to find somebody to laugh with and have the power and the place to cry with when necessary. The greatest pain in life is to be invisible. What I’ve learned is that we all just want to be heard. And I thank all the people who continue to let me hear your stories, and by sharing your stories, you let other people see themselves and for a moment, glimpse the power to change and the power to triumph.”

That defining moment in Oprah’s life manifested magnificently. “The greatest pain in life,” she said, “is to be invisible.” Turning that story on it’s head, she gives people from all walks of life the gift of being seen and heard.


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  1. Daphne Matthews says:

    I am excited that you are putting this work out into the universe! It changed my life, making me a happier and more useful human being! Eternally grateful, Daphne

  2. Marguerite says:

    Bingo! Great job Catherine!

  3. What truth and power in your words and in Oprah’s. I can only imagine how painful it must be to feel invisible. Thank you for sharing this with me.

  4. Good stuff Catherine. This new path you are taking us on is intriguing.

  5. Juliette Andrews says:

    Yes, invisible. I know this, I make a little noise or a loud one and say, “I am here, see me, see me.

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