This morning wasn’t one of those fabulous Happiness Hangover kind of days. I was struggling. I am struggling. But I’m okay.
I had a busy weekend. Had to work Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Went to a friend’s birthday party Saturday night and stayed out too late and had maybe a bit of the bad kind of hangover Sunday. Drove 8 hours round trip to Michigan and back to pick up my daughter from visiting her sister at college on Sunday. She was sick by the time we got home so even though she didn’t have school Monday morning, I had to get her up early to go to a doctor so I could be to work on time at 10:00. The doctor found nothing wrong with her and sent us home. By the time I was about ready for bed last night I felt rather frazzled.
I decided to do a short yoga session before going to bed. I had a real hard time silencing my mind and relaxing my body. My neck hurt. My middle back had been in and out of spasm since Sunday morning. I lit a candle, put on some music and rolled out my mat. It wasn’t smooth, it wasn’t mind expanding, it wasn’t anything special. It just was. It was just what I needed and I went to bed and slept soundly until dawn.
But I wasn’t “all better” this morning. I knew I needed to go walking. I hadn’t been out since Thursday or Friday. But it was dark and cold. I was tired. I had a chiropractor appointment at 9:00. I just wanted to take Emma to school and come home and fart around online for an hour. But I knew that if I didn’t go, it would be even harder to find the motivation the next time I was tired or cold or depressed. I put on my warm clothes, put my iPod in my pocket and drove to the forest preserve. It wasn’t a perfect day. The trees weren’t brilliantly bathed in autumn sunlight. The forest animals didn’t come out to scamper and play at my feet. I took a path I’d never taken before and it was kind of desolate and creepy. I even got a little lost but just ended up turning around and going back the way I’d come because I’d literally ended up on the wrong side of the railroad tracks.
After getting back on a familiar trail I pulled out my iPod and put on a podcast that I’d been wanting to listen to all weekend. Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly Read Along. I devoured this book last week and it has had a profound impact on me already. I’ve decided to go back and reread it with the Read Along. I’m also reading one of her earlier books; I Thought It was Just Me (but it isn’t). I think I may be on the path of becoming an apostle or groupie or something.
In these books she talks about shame and how it effects us and how we can become resilient to shame experiences. We can never be shame-proof but we can learn to recognize the signs and know the triggers and learn to cope and bounce back from those things that send us into a shame cycle. I’m also learning how to become more empathetic and to recognize the signs of shame reactions in others.
“Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”
“Shame is hating yourself and understanding why other people hate you too.”
When we experience shame, we feel disconnected and desperate for worthiness. When we’re hurting, either full of shame or even just feeling the fear of shame, we are more likely to engage in self-destructive behaviors and to attack or shame others.”
Reading the above words in these books stopped me in my tracks. I could feel these words in my gut and in my heart. I have lived shame for most of my life. I’ve hated myself and other people. I’ve lashed out and attacked others all because I was feeling shame or was afraid of shame. A few times I had made myself vulnerable and opened up to people and was hit full force by the Shame Train. I need to get a handle on this if I am ever going to become wholehearted.
In Daring Greatly she talks more about vulnerability and how true greatness and creativity come out of moments of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. This is scary because we want to avoid shame and opening ourselves up to being vulnerable also opens us up to the possibility of experiencing shame.
Over the years of writing a blog I’ve struggled with vulnerability and shame. I’ve found it difficult to know just how much to share in order to make my writing interesting and engaging without going too far and opening myself up for ridicule and shame. When I look back however I do realize that the posts I’ve written that have gotten the most positive response have been the ones where I was very honest and told stories that have elicited a “thank you for writing that, I feel just like that sometimes. You are so brave.” I don’t know about that but I do know that all I can do is write what I know. And often what I know is painful and embarrassing and sometimes it is enlightening and positive.
“The power of owning our stories, even the difficult ones, is that we get to write the ending.”
I think it is important to share our stories and to let each other know that it is okay to struggle and it is okay to celebrate our successes. Shame hides in dark places and in the silence. If we bring it out into the open and shine the light of compassion on shame, it can’t survive.
So the last few days haven’t been bliss-filled days that have moved me toward enlightenment. So what? It is still part of my story and I think it is important to share that too. I’m living in the moment and appreciating the now. It’s all I can do sometimes.