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It's Not So Much the Heat.......



Jake at Toronto Zoo 4 years ago?
It is officially a heat wave – day four-- and I am ignoring Brené Brown.  Cicada song pierces the evening air.  It is finally tolerable outside. Still, my skirt clings to my legs, my forehead damp with perspiration within minutes of coming to sit on the deck.  Jake and Noah are playing ---Jake pitching, Noah catching.
The weather perfectly captures how I am feeling mid chapter. 
Stuck.  Sticky. Heavy.  Lazy.
The chapter is entitled “The Things That Get in the Way”…and I think that I am one of those things. 
It’s time to face shame—worthiness--and get a grip on them. 

I. Am. Getting. Closer.
When shame came up in therapy, I didn’t understand why.  My therapist kept pushing:
“So wait. You don’t have people over to your house. Why would you deny them the pleasure of your company?  You are a smart woman with lots to share with people.”
“Well…it’s my house…it’s just…. it is small.”
“So only have one person over?”

“No, it’s not that it is just..well…I have a good job.  And so does my husband, but we both had divorces in our past and went back to school late in life.  We should have more. We should have a bigger house.  We should live in a nicer neighbourhood.”
“Who says?”
 
“Pardon?”
 
“Who says you should have a bigger house with more things?”

“Ahhh…..I don’t know….I mean we just look around us at people we know--who are our age.  My parents were way further ahead at my age and they only had one person working.”

“So what does it say about you that you don’t have these things? That you are not where you think you should be?”
(Silence)

 
In my head I was screaming, “It says I am a loser, a failure, I can’t do anything right, I have let everyone down, I should just disappear….”
 
 
THAT is the only way I can explain my understanding of shame. With this story.
It is still there by the way.  The shame. 
So instead of facing this----of finding a way to deal with it---I “hustle”.  I dodge invites because I might be asked to reciprocate.  I pass on my shame to my kids---we don’t invite other kids over—what might their parents think? (dodge and weave)  I stay in. (duck and cover) I do not engage the neighbours.  (starting to like a bit of a dance eh?)
 

Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. Brené Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection).
 
It is the fear that once people know who we are—how we struggle, where we come from, they won’t like us.
 
Shame is not something exclusive to those who have experienced serious trauma as I had once thought.  It hides in plain sight ---money problems, how you look, your parenting, health, addiction, etc.

My shame is like a giant rock at the bottom of a river---my head just above water.  It keeps me from fully participating in life--connecting with others, building a community of friends and support---I swim and swim and get nowhere and my existence is engulfed by keeping my head up...survival.  I believe people will only see the rock if I talk about it--I will just be my "issues"--avoidable, unlikable, unworthy--and they will avoid me.

And as a “perfectionistisa” I would prefer them to see what shows above the water for fear of their judgement devastating me and the rock pulling me under.  So I keep treading water instead of dragging the ball out and talking about it. 

Alex supporting his brother...years ago and still today.
One step I have made is that I think I am in excellent company.  I used to think I was drowning alone while everyone else skimmed the surface of the water---like it was frozen and they were on skates---sliding here and there and making it all look so graceful.  But talking about my shame with one or two people --and writing about my shame has led other people to share their stories.  And I have learned that I have a lot of people struggling beside me.  This helps lighten the load---the rock shifts.  It is a bit easier to breathe. You find a friend and hold on....


Understanding “shame resilience” will be my next step in the process of understanding shame.
 
I knew this would be a tough chapter…..

Comments

  1. "One step I have made is that I think I am in excellent company. I used to think I was drowning alone while everyone else skimmed the surface of the water---like it was frozen and they were on skates---sliding here and there and making it all look so graceful. But talking about my shame with one or two people --and writing about my shame has led other people to share their stories. And I have learned that I have a lot of people struggling beside me. This helps lighten the load---the rock shifts. It is a bit easier to breathe. You find a friend and hold on...."

    That is the truth.

    I read a poem last night that made me think especially of this paragraph you wrote. It's by Haziz:


    "A Great Need"

    Out

    Of a great need

    We are all holding hands

    And climbing.

    Not loving is a letting go.

    Listen,

    The terrain around here

    Is

    Far too

    Dangerous

    For

    That.
    ---------------

    The terrain is far to dangerous for that. So let's love and grab a hand and keep climbing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am blow away at how precisely you nailed this. Shame. Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete

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