Writing Challenge, Day 12 – let’s talk about shame, baby
Ever have a shame day?
Perhaps it’s spawned by nothing at all. Or arises after seeing someone you’ve wronged, who completely hates you for good reason. Or after thinking about someone who’s wronged you in a humiliating (public?) way. Maybe it’s not even in the distant past. Maybe you screwed something up at work yesterday.
I’m talking about shame, in all its gory glory.
I’m having one of those days for one of the above reasons. It’s something I’ve beat myself bloody about for the past several years, in varying degrees. It doesn’t happen so often anymore, but sometimes I just feel that burning shame with such fierceness that it almost requires an antacid.
Often this sense of Shame is accompanied by his cruel mistress, Defensiveness. She can arise in such a powerful way that she leaves you arguing with ghosts in the shower in the morning, when you should just be enjoying the warm water and five minutes to breathe before starting your day.
No? Just me?
If you happen to be one of those powerful souls who’s never fucked anything up, you have every right to judge me. Also, you are probably a unicorn or a fairy princess, which is cool. Everyone else experiences shame from time to time.
There have been days in my not-so-distant past where Shame has been my constant companion. Since I’ve not given myself the out of hiding under the covers all day, listening to Rainbow Connection and crying, I’ve decided to out myself. It’s a really fun trick I’ve learned in the two years since I started blogging.
Transparency is really the enemy of shame.
Especially if what you’re ashamed of really is a ghost.
By all means, examine your shame. If there are genuine amends to be made, make them. Don’t be a Non-apologizer. Being a victim is not productive at all. If you can eat a little shit and make things right, you’ll feel so much better. Making amends, accepting forgiveness – these are huge, huge steps you can take towards your own maturation. Leaps, really.
If, like me, you are past the point of amends (either because you’ve done your best to obtain it and it can’t or won’t be granted, or because attempting to do so will cause things to be worse) then being productive with your shame is a really great way to move through it. After wallowing (and arguing with no one in the shower), I decided to use this platform to share my shame with you. This is due in part to it being a productive use of a platform (productivity being the name of the game since I’ve promised to write every day for the entire year), but also due to the fact that I’ve received really great responses from readers in particular after I write a column in which I come out looking like an idiot.
So, here we go. In no particular order, here’s some stuff I feel shame about on any given day/stupid shit I’ve done that I’ve felt shame about at some point and have let go.
Remember, sweethearts, humility doesn’t have to be humiliating (a great therapist once told me that)
In my life, I have:
* Chemically burn all my hair off. About a week before my wedding. Yes, there are photos contained in that link.
* Hurt people who didn’t deserve to be hurt. Been the asshole. I am rightly and deservedly the villain in some people’s stories. Some of whom I have to see regularly and some of whom I don’t see anymore because of the aforementioned assholiness (thanks for the word, Walt).
* Been irretrievably broken-hearted.
* Amassed credit card debt.
* Screwed up and been called out on it at work. Also, not screwed up and been yelled about it at work.
* Had to admit when I was wrong.
* Lost my temper, occasionally with those who are dearest to me.
* Taken myself too seriously.
* Made poor choices in a plethora of situations, sometimes against the better advice of people who care about me.
I’m sure I’ve missed some instances wherein I was a bonehead and in many of those instances, I’ve gotten really unproductive about it. Now, however, at the very least I’m being productive with it. If even one of you feels a little less alone today because reading this column leads you to say, “she’s a fuck-up too!” then I will have done my job.
I have oftentimes thought that I would be free to write once I had healed all of my bullshit. The truth, at least for me, is that the bullshit can become the creation and thus, heal itself.
At least for today.
I forgive you, dear one. Not because you have wronged me, but because sometimes it’s enough to hear it and drive the shame away another day. If that doesn’t work, then feel free to purge it here or on my Facebook page, or privately. Or tell a friend or a therapist about it. At the very least, don’t turn it inward. Don’t keep a lid on it and make yourself sick. I want better for you.
Show your shame to the Light, Dear One. Let the Light shine out of all of the messy cracks in your heart.