You know, as I reflect back on my first 30 years, I no longer feel overtaken by shame. Shame for immense & unspeakable pain and my inability to manage myself with it and to get a hold of it, to address it, end or resolve it, or at the very least hide it. I do not feel shame for any of that. I feel tremendous sadness for the little girl and young woman who felt disconnected, unworthy and alone from her earliest moments. I am sorry to the people who were harmed by her inability to see the world and herself differently from how she was raised to see. We are taught by the adults in our lives, how to perceive & define the world and ourselves. … I failed to identify a how to engage peaceful,secure, and trusting existence. Panic and shame were my constant companions. That is tragic for me, not shameful. Even the shitty coping that lasted into my 30s—Black-out drinking, drugs, food, men, shopping, sleeping—looking back, I feel only grief and compassion. When I knew better, I did better.
Shame comes when I have used a damaging word or behavior, before amends can be made. I can honestly say that in my last 15 years, I have done nothing for which I feel continued shame. I am divorced, estranged from my family, and at times am harsh, angry, uncooperative, and sharp tongued. So, and? I repeatedly fail to please some and that is A-Okay. I will say this forever: “My job is not to please others.” Other people’s approval does not dictate my worthiness of love or dignity.
My mother choosing my sister over me hurts like hell, but why would I feel shame for another person’s choice? I do not. Today, separate and away from them, I live a life with faith, direction, connection, and intention. I change the things I can, accept the things I must, and walk TF away from that and those which diminish me. I work hard, take good care of my children, am a (sometimes great) partner to sweet Greg while living my truth with integrity. My words and actions now line up—always— no matter with whom I am speaking and who may hear or see. Transparency. Alignment of my words, values, and actions. These things build in me, the opposite of shame; self worth and self esteem. One day at a time, I am unlearning #allofthestuff !
What I now know beyond certainty, is that I might die from shame if it were I who had behaved, spoken, and written as my sister has done. The damage she unleashed is as horrifying as undeniable. Her involvement of our children and my ex is a disaster. And- she is a woman of nearly 60. I was assholing deep into my 30s. Then, I became a mom, found a program to reparent myself: learning to take my own inventory (and not other people’s-uh oh). Oh well, I am recovering not recoverED and I do possibly enjoy taking her juicy inventory….but seriously. Thank gawd that I understand her mess is not mine.
For now, my most unfortunate behavior is old, dusty, and amended where possible. I am a work in progress. Without recovery, I would be owning all of the shame for these circumstances and conditions–I would be telling myself that I have either caused or imagined and definitely deserve the pain and shame of another person’s choices. That is one of the greatest lies and myths of the dis-eased family. The scapegoat– the key symptom of a family with issues. Even being scapegoated doesn’t shame me, it illuminates how some people and places are safer for me/us than others.Much Love,
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