One of my earliest experiences with shame was the time – when I was in first grade – that my teacher punished me for calling one of my classmates a crybaby. I had to stay after school and write my numbers, one through 100, on the blackboard.
I can remember the hot prickling feeling on my face, the pit in my stomach, and my shallow breathing.
There was also a sense of “that’s not fair!” because I am sure that someone, somewhere along the way, had called me a crybaby. Maybe even my mother. I am pretty sure she didn’t use those words, but my little girl self was full of unresolved, unspoken grief over the divorce of my parents, and my mother was unable to hold space for it.
My emotions were BIG! They were intense and unruly and unpredictable (and they still are sometimes).
A few weeks ago – in response to a comment someone made to me – I cooked up a complete and total shame meltdown for myself, along with a side of impotent rage. I curled up in bed and sobbed like an irrational, raging, inconsolable child…a big ol’ ball of prickly, hormonal pathetic-ness, shame, grief, and anger all rolled into one.
Because yes, hormones were definitely part of the mix. I don’t think I have felt that kind of intensity since my hormonal journey started 40-ish years ago.
My husband (bless his heart) asked if I wanted him to snuggle me. Through my tears I replied, “Yes, but I want to act like I don’t.”
(This is the epitome of self-mothering…summoning up a modicum of compassion for both myself AND for him, in that moment, because I know that he needed to be able to comfort me and I needed him).
The big difference between my first-grade self and my now 54-year-old-self is that – even in the depths of seriously uncomfortable emotions – I was…not so much “in control” but aware.
With some time and space and some additional self-mothering, I gave myself permission to step out of shame and victimhood.
No one is immune to shame.
We all, from time to time, step into victim consciousness.
Normal. Expected. Appropriate. Healthy.
It’s not the end of the world.
It proves nothing about us.
And we always have the capacity to take exquisite care of our precious selves.
Carry on my friend.
And have an amazing day.
Much, much love,