Monday, August 6, 2018

No More Shame #selflove #startingover

During this starting over phase of my life over the past year, I've experimented with a lot of self-improvement classes, webinars, books...anything and everything. I have gravitated toward some and been repelled by others. After all of this time, a revelation hit me this weekend--I'm okay as I am.

Yes, I have issues in my life that are still unsettled, but at my core I am genuinely happy. I don't want to go into a room and talk about my sadness anymore. I don't want to analyze my traumas--that's what I do in my writing and it suits me better.

On Saturday, I went to a class that sounded fun or at least interesting. It was a class on stepping into my power, which is a theme of mine that I've been focused on for awhile. But it went all wonky almost from the beginning. I am a very animated person when I'm in my zone. I talk with my hands and I am passionate about my words when I'm feeling the vibe. One of my triggers that always makes me feel "less than" is someone telling me to calm down when I am in such a flow. That happened in this empowerment class from the instructor. I was answering a question and was confident in my response so therefore was animated--hands going, words flowing--and she says to me, "take a breath...calm down." This is what my mother does to me and it always puts me in the defensive. I wasn't upset. I was happy...until that moment. The trigger had been pulled and I found myself gaping at her with confusion. Take a breath? Calm down? This was supposed to be a class about being confident and owning one's power, yet I was being told to be small. This has happened to me all of my life.

Later, on my way home, I realized that I am done. I am happy. I have come so far in a year's time with rebuilding my confidence and feeling comfortable expressing myself. I don't need classes on how to do it--I could probably teach a few with all the studying and the work I have done to get to this point.

Believe me, I've done some dumpster diving into the depths of my soul and realized that I've carried shame in my heart for most of my life. I've been told for years that I am too much this or too little that and the shame for being "wrong" somehow embedded itself into my very being. This shame led me into abusive relationships with men and toxic friendships. It led me to compromise when I knew in my gut I should stand my ground. It kept me silent when I was abused because, after all, it had to be my fault somehow. It kept me hiding my writing for years because--gasp--I might embarrass a relative. Shame crippled me for most of my life. No more. All this work I have done has enlightened me to the realization that I have nothing to be ashamed for--not one thing.

In some ways, I think shame also pushed me to taking classes like the one I did on Saturday. There was this part of me that thought, "no, you don't have this mastered yet, you need to go to another workshop and be told by yet another person that you are enough. Don't be cocky and think you have this figured out." While sitting there, though, I realized I do have it figured out. I trust myself now. I am comfortable with myself now. I am genuinely happy and at ease no matter what happens. I speak up for myself now where I wouldn't have a year ago...and definitely wouldn't have two years ago.

Life beat me down, but it also lifted me up. Without my journey, I would not be half the person I am now. I like that I am deep. I have enjoyed the intense study inward. I have sobbed on the floor. I have been on the edge where I struggled with, "what's the point of living?" I have been cloaked with darkness. I am grateful for all of it because now here I sit in my loft writing this with a smile on my face and my dogs at my feet. I have no shame for where I've been--and I never needed to carry that burden.

I was abused many times--why did I carry the shame? By carrying it, I continued to give the abusers power over me and I am no longer willing to do that.

Abuse comes in many different forms from the physical and the verbal, yes, but gossip and betrayal are also abuses. Do you know how many times I carried shame for a friend being rude to me or lying about me or leaving me? Instead of putting blame in the correct box, I carried it all. No wonder I gained weight, slumped my shoulders, stayed away from people, stopped speaking up for myself--all that shame was heavy.

Twenty-five years ago today an ex-boyfriend of mine tried to murder me. Today is the anniversary of my escape from his assault. I used to be ashamed of it--me, the victim, carried the shame. All the "if I would have only's." It didn't help that my family was also ashamed about it and wouldn't allow me to discuss it. Ever. Shame, shame, shame.

So much shame.

Then I was pregnant when I got married--more shame heaped on me by peers and family. Oh, and then the ultimate shaming--my husband's suicide. Shame, shame, shame. Add financial struggle of a single parent onto it--more shame. God, I could hardly breathe!

I'm free of it now. That's what I realized when I drove home from that class Saturday. I don't need to be shooshed. I don't need to justify being confident. I don't need to be anything less than who I am. I don't need to be told that I'm this way or that way because I know who I am. For anyone reading this, maybe you won't understand and that's fine. But for years I didn't know who I was anymore. I had strayed so far off course. I had beaten myself up so much and blamed myself for everything imaginable--especially other people's bad behavior. I viewed the world through a lens of shame.

I can't pinpoint the exact moment the shame lifted. I credit all the work I've done this past year--and none of it has been easy. I do know that driving home on Saturday solidified the fact that it's gone, though. How? Because I laughed and sang on the drive. The heaviness had lifted. I felt light and happy.

I am forever a work-in-progress, but I believe the work will be easier without shame standing in my way at every turn and whispering doubt in my ear. Fuck that.

Fuck you, Shame! I won't hide behind you anymore. I am free of you. 

As for the twenty-five year anniversary of the day I looked evil in the eye as a man strangled me while bashing my head into the pavement--I celebrate being alive. I celebrate my escape--which was a miracle considering how near death I was, but I did it--I got away on my own two bloody feet. No one rescued me--I rescued myself. Fuck shame for preventing me from acknowledging that. Fuck anyone who ever stopped me from talking about it. Fuck anyone who thinks I shouldn't be writing about it now.

I celebrate all the life that happened in the past twenty-five years: my children that were born, the man I loved and married, the laughter I shared with friends, the wine I consumed, the places I traveled, the tears I've cried, the meteors I've witnessed, the pain I've felt, the bliss I've experienced. I own it all! Yay, me, for having scars both physical and mental! Yay, me, for having stories to tell! Yay, me for still being here.

I lived. I survived. No more shame. I reject it. I put a wall around me to shield me from anyone who wants to toss that shit at me again. No more. I am free. It's okay to be happy. It's okay to forgive myself for things both imagined and real and to let it all go.

And for the little girl me who first started feeling ashamed for being creative and weird and shy and tried so hard to fit in by being someone she wasn''re free now, too.


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