Let's be done with shame, shall we?
I was reflecting today about why I share things that are so close to my heart with all of you, in particular my personal story of being disinherited and the process of leaving the Mormon church. I think there are many reasons, and here are a few. I think that healing is a complex and layered process that I find fascinating. My story isn’t only for me, it is to help other people to also understand the sequence of healing and to give each other hope that despite how hard life can be that we can make it. Together, we can make it. We as a human family learn from sharing stories. I think that the worst thing that can happen to us is when we are so full of shame from whatever has happened, that we close up and refuse to let anyone see our darkness. My darlings, a broken heart is one that lets light in. And it is the light that will heal you.
Shame can only thrive in the darkness, it cannot survive the light that burns away the shadows of despair. And that is why I share my story with you, because it helps me to heal by revealing all of the sadness and it also helps us collectively to share stories. None of us are alone in our pain. We are truly all doing the very best that we can. And truly my darlings, that is enough. Just keep showing up for yourself and your loved ones as best you can.
Exploring The Shame Chapter
Now I’m ready to share another chapter of my story. This is called the shame chapter. When I was first set free from my relationship with my borderline personality disorder Mother, I felt this ecstatic sense of freedom and joy. I felt as if a whole realm of possibility had just opened up because I would no longer have to face a daily series of attacks and hostility. The emotional abuse over the last couple years, and frankly my whole life, has been so crushing to my soul. Stepping away from that was bliss. Now that the dust is settling a bit, I’ve been digging into forgiveness and I discovered a lifetime worth of shame and repressed anger. It kind of shocked me to realize how much heavy, dense, painful shame I carry.
The more obvious shame comes from the written words from my Mother, and I cannot bare to repeat those words here. I just can’t. Suffice it to say, it’s enough to break your heart and leave you empty of any kind of self love. It is a little easier to identify this variety of shaming that is so direct and hostile. What is underneath the surface is more subtle and ingrained and is a result of a lifetime of religious programming and cultural values that have been layered over my being like a sickening collage. I feel like I’ve reached a point where my being will no longer tolerate any of those false versions of myself and it’s all being pushed up to the surface. It feels like a knot in my stomach that creates this sickening, burning nausea. If I could give it a color, it’s like red hot, molten lava that makes it hard to even breathe. It’s completely toxic and it has to go.
And Then Came Serendipity
During this last week while I was pondering this feeling and trying to figure out what to do with it, I received a serendipitous note from my friend. She shared a link with me that was an apology letter from a woman who left Mormonism written to all the “young women” that she used to teach. It just melted me. I could related to every single thing she wrote. So much of the shaming she identified and deconstructed is exactly what I’ve been working through. The timing of my friend sending this couldn’t have been more perfect. When things like this happen, it just reminds me that this wonderful world that we live in is magical. It also reminds me that we are connected and need to help each other through our dark moments. I’m grateful my friend tuned into that, thank you darling, you know who you are :)
Let's Get Real
These are my dark moments: I feel like I cannot breathe easy because I’m so worried that I’ll get in trouble for stepping out of line. I’m always hiding. I’m constantly covering up my body and trying not to express my sexuality too overtly here because being “sexy” is shameful in this culture of modesty. I’m always trying to fade into the background of a group because I don’t want to be singled out of the crowd as the black sheep. I went through that process and it is fucking brutal.
I’m ashamed that I’m not married and that I’m not a mother and that my timelines are all off-pace for the Utah life. Getting the question, “do you have your own family” is so frequent in Utah, and I never know what to say. I somehow always feel like I should apologize for being single and usually end up saying something like, “well I’ve had some serious boyfriends but none of them have been the right fit for marriage.” Why should I have to say anything besides, “no”? I’m 31 for God sake, isn’t that actually quite young?
I feel like I’ve failed somehow at life. I feel ashamed that I don’t own my own house yet and I haven’t achieved some of the significant life milestones that my brothers have. Somehow, all my life decisions have culminated in a very different lifestyle than the rest of my family and if I’m honest, I will admit that I do feel ashamed about that. Why do I have to be so different?
So now what?
Standing up to shaming from others is really the first step towards healing, and it’s a little more obvious. What is a little more tricky is facing our own internal shaming. I’ve really been noticing how any shame that I project onto myself is criticism that I have ACCEPTED to be true. I have un-consciously accepted the issues I’ve mentioned above to be valid criticisms, and I have allowed them to hurt me and keep me small. No more of this! Simply no more.
Shame is really nothing more than a false sense of limitation, and we can decide not to embrace feelings of shame as our truth. No more! My real, deep truth is that I love who I am!!! I love that I chose to be unique, different and original. I love that I’ve embraced my artistry and gypsy spirit and have traveled around the world and learned about the mysteries of the healing arts. I love that I’m not in an unhappy marriage that ties me down. I love that I have my cute little apartment that I can simply move out of without any worries about mortgages and house repairs. I have complete and total freedom in my life and I consciously created that. So why would I allow shame to take away my joy for a moment longer? Those expectations that have been breathing down my neck aren’t even my own expectations for myself. Why should I even care about them at all? I will create my own family and community on my own terms thank you very much!
healing can be awkward
The healing process is not always graceful. It's really hard to process anger and work through it without starting some fires. Honestly, there are moments when I feel completely confused and overwhelmed by emotions. And that is why I've called in all the resources I have, working with several different healers and a skilled therapist. We all need a team to get through these tough moments. I think it will take some time to get this shame and anger out of my system, and I’m ok with that. The important part is doing the work and showing up for yourself. And it’s hard work, but it’s worth the feeling of relief and freedom from pain.
In my coaching programs, I talk a lot about living a life that you love. And damn it all, if you want to do that, you have to let go of those stories of shame that keep you small. When we accept limiting stories as our truth, we keep our hearts in jail. We stifle our creativity and slowly kill our own souls. Let’s be done with that! I say, be outrageous and beautiful in whatever way that is for you. Don’t listen to shame for a moment longer. Just be true to you! Never give up on that.
Let's have some fun
My brand new program is going to launch on December 15th, and get this, it is a virtual tea party. That’s right, we are going to have an online tea party with people from around the world to connect from home where we can be cozy and wrapped in blankets, drinking tea and tuning into a FREE webinar. I’d like to invite you to join because we will be talking this first month about breaking free from shame. Obviously, it’s something I’m fired up about right now! Click here to join the group.
Love you guys, keep shining in all your wild, outrageous brightness,