I don't have enough superlatives for Brene Brown. Since she has dedicated her living to understanding many of the emotions that drive humans...including and especially shame-I will defer to her definition of Shame:
"..... the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. "
I've recently become aware that I have no shame. I mean that in every way that you can mean it. I am SHAME-LESS. There is no shame on me. The skeletons have made their way from the closets and are quite comfortable sipping tea on the front porch.
Shame has no partner in my world to make it seem more reputable. I don't carry around my guilt with my shame. Why do we say that? It's as if putting the guilt in there will somehow make the shame more palatable or easy to choke down?
How do you feel about chocolate chip cookies dipped in soy sauce? Disgusting right?
When I was pregnant with my second child, I could not imagine anything that could possibly surpass the delicious nirvana a chocolate chip cookie dipped in soy sauce would achieve. I never actually ate it but I dreamed of it almost daily. I felt that in spite of the pull of the salty sweetness, I would somehow regret taking that plunge. Once I was divested of the sweet little parasite...I came back to my senses. I imagine my the taste of this delicacy is not dis-similar to how guilt mixed with shame would taste.
Shame is something that I was told early on was essential to being a 'good' human. I grew up expecting to eat doses of shame with every meal-as if it is a multi-vitamin that would help me grow into something wholesome. I've spent a long portion of my adult life gradually shedding this connection. Some of my shame was easy to let go-the parts tied to being born a poor little cracker in rural North Carolina are now badges of honor. The wounds I received from being abused as a child I managed to heal through loving my own children-as imperfectly and thoroughly as any mother is able.
Some of my shame was more insidious and chameleon-like. It is harder to turn off the shame of imperfection when you believe somewhere in your core that you are supposed to achieve something close to it-in mothering, in sistering, in wife-ing, or just in employee-ing. My value statement of myself was often defined in my ability to be of service. And I'm not going to lie....that shizz was hard to let go.
In the past year, I've been committed to eliminating the spider web tags that shame has managed to bury into my life-particularly in the ways where I tell myself that my shame is good or useful for me. And just last week....I realized that I have kicked the habit. I hadn't really thought about it in a while but...my spouse asked me if I had shame around an incident from a while ago. I answered quickly and with complete openness....No. Not any. Not a wee little bitty bit.
I don't really care who knows about any bit of my story, my heart, my head. It's not necessarily anyone else's business but....I am an open book. I may regret some choices that I made along the road of my life but...
I own them
I understand them
I am not burdened with anyone's expectations
I am worthy of love and compassion
without any relation or consideration of those choices
And so are you.
My spouse had to think about that for a while because he literally set his vocation to be a shame-filled person. He has been carrying and growing shame like a farmer tends crops-learning new techniques to get that shame bigger and bigger. And...like anything you practice with intention, you become very successful at what you give energy and attention. He's had a bumper crop year.
So how does a farmer of shame react when you negate his life's work? It kind of boggled his mind I think to realize that in spite of everything, I am not ashamed. How could that be? We are supposed to be ashamed of behavior that is 'bad'...ask anyone. They will tell you.
The problem is...shame never helped anyone be something more than damaged. Shame is poison that slowly, inevitably, eats away at our being. Every time. No exceptions.
We drink the liquor of shame and soon we're building our lives around it. Before we know it, we're managing everything so that we can make sure that no one sees our shame and no one stirs it from the little shrine we made for it in our heart of hearts.
That's something to think about. We hide shame to keep it safe. Shame becomes precious to us. We protect it from ourselves and hug it close. We even create new labels and names for shame to make SURE that we don't actually address it.
Drive for our best possible selves
We will label shame all kind of things so that we can believe we are in alignment with our religion, our role, our limits. Did you know that we do this terrible thing?
Well...that just doesn't work for me.
Let me ask you....Is a peacock ashamed because it doesn't look like a robin? Does it moan about how it could only be a better peacock if it ate vegan or cut it's children's sandwiches into triangles?
No the peacock does not.
It just LIVES.
In glorious, audacious color.
Exactly as God meant it to live.
I just don't have a single itty bitty bit of ME that I believe prohibits me from being completely worthy of LOVE.
I am enough.
Exactly as I am right now.