After my post last Sunday, I felt it was time for a ‘compassion write’: to take a break from swimming in the depths of shame stories and definitions. I decided to consider the antonym, pride, and what I may have gained or become as a result of the events of my youth.
In general, the muffling taboo against speaking about feelings which I experienced, shaped me into someone who cares deeply about the emotional content of experiences. I became a compassionate and empathetic person when I was fairly young, encouraging others to ‘have their feelings’. Eventually I learned, that in addition to giving others a safe zone in which to open up, I could do that for myself. I went a long and lonely time without that part of the equation. I recall being asked to keep the secret of a friend’s incarceration as a turning point. For the first time I said “No, I will not hold this ugly, scary secret inside myself where it will ferment. Been there and done that.”
I’ve found safe zones and I’ve created safe zones for myself, by taking risks. Taking the risk to speak honestly is how I have grown my own safe zone. It gets easier, each time, I think. Even if I am just practicing pretending to believe that not everyone is judging me, I gain ground. I try to remember that it really, really doesn’t matter if or what ‘they’ think of me; it’s their business. My job is tending to my own house.
I’ve learned that the less time and energy I spend (needlessly) taking care of others, the more energy I regain for self-care. By the same token, the less I worry about the opinions and judgments of others, the safer I feel. I also regain the time and energy that was wasted on fretting. Doubting my core, my inner self, is another way to name the agony of experiencing shame & fat stigma. I hereby choose to keep this goal front and center: to honor my core and let the rest go by.
I am actively de-constructing shame, taking it apart and examining it. But what does it take to reduce the shame? Perhaps the de-construction is a necessary stage, but I certainly don’t want to be stuck there; it’s a very unpleasant and negative place. So, I am building a safe zone in which to regurgitate the offending, clinging, memories; to look them over carefully and parse their meaning. Actually, the task is to understand the meaning I have made of them and why they have held such potency over all these years.
Oops, guess I do know why… because I surrendered so much power to them. Time to take that back! Each reclaimed bit of energy is fuel toward releasing more shame and finding more healing. End game is to be at peace with who I am and ready to live without shame. On my way.