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Another Way To Define Shame

August 19. Ok so I’m going to need you to grab another cup of coffee or just sit down while you read this because my mind is on FIRE this am. 

I was on my morning jalk, my new term for what I’m doing these days. I start of jogging for a bit for as long as I can until the 150% humidity takes over my soul and crushes it. Then I walk for a bit, sometimes try and jog again, repeat.

And of course I was listening to some good stuff along the way. I continue to be amazed at the incredible amounts of phenomenal, insightful, inspiring women there are out there doing wonderful work to build our emotional intelligence and give us hope.

And that I haven’t met them all yet. This morning there are two more!

Anne Lamont is a legend in the recovery world, if you haven’t heard of her, look her up. She's written a bunch of books, she has been sober for like a million years and she is incredibly spiritually fit. She is sixty seven years old so there’s that. Of course she is experienced plus has the blessing of age when it comes to wisdom.

So worth finding everything she has ever done and devouring it.

The concept of shame is something I know I have worked on a lot in my own life. Recovery sort of makes that a priority if you are doing it right. And I see the women in my private practice struggle with shame a bunch and the ability to let go of the those people or things that are holding them hostage.

It’s not easy to do, in fact it is the reason some can’t stay sober.

And looking back on my earlier years its easy for me to see where this was showing up. Certainly it was there in active addiction, however I didn’t have a conscience so awareness of the shame was nonexistent, but my brain and body knew.

Then I layered on sobriety, started taking a look at the wreckage, feeling the feelings and suddenly it was like a neon sign on the strip in Las Vegas blinking in my brain 24/7. And not only that but it caused the pace of my emotional sobriety to slow to tortoise speed, thus the reason for my disappointment at my ten year anniversary.

In this podcast, Everything Happens with Kate Bowler (check it out she is becoming my new favorite), Anne shared an acronym for shame, Should Have Already Mastered Everything and ya’ll my brain exploded. I have never heard that before but boy could I relate to that.

Especially in my 30’s while raising babies, trying to stay sober, maintain a marriage and walk along side all the “beautiful people” in my world. Many of the women I was in community with were very attractive, thin, fit, appeared wealthy, their kids were beautiful, well clothed, clean and behaved perfectly.

Here’s one memory that still makes me smile and kind of represents the slice of life I was part of. We used to have big birthday parties at our house twice a year one in April for Nora, and one in October for Grace and Derek.

They were a lot of fun and mostly parties for our friends and we also had cake. During one of them my mom whispered to me, “I feel like I’m in the land of the skinny people”. Don’t come at me, it was less about body type or anything negative and more just funny and like we didn’t fit in.

Of course there was nothing wrong with that, mostly we were just jealous.

During that time, my insides were constantly striving to match the outsides of others. It was like how the body is always working to maintain that level Ph of 7 and will do whatever it needs to in order to get there. The pull was real and exhausting.

I wanted to be part of. I wanted to connect, I was spinning my wheels trying to fit in as a thirty something year old momma of three. I think of it now and I am pissed at myself for wasting so much time.

I believed that I should have already mastered everything. That I as somewhat behind in life. I was the misfit. Oh and I didn’t drink. The negative self-talk that was still part of my life then would plan on repeat every day.

Oh my goodness no wonder I cried a lot.

No wonder I felt so alone and like no one was there for me, heavy. All signs point to shame and the desire to be similar to what others were showing. I was carrying around these bags, heavy luggage that was weighing me down and frankly, I can see now, truly blocking me from the sunlight of the spirit.

Thankfully in the back of my mind there was always a golden nugget of hope given to me by my therapist years before. She said oh just wait until you are in your 40’s, you really won’t give a s*@t anymore. I didn’t believe her then but man as I got closer I started to feel it.

I started to learn about extending grace to myself, to create space for the idea that honestly, we really can’t do it all. We can’t do anything we want if we just work hard enough. That concept can be harmful to women, and create deep despair and resentment when the let downs of life due many times to forces outside of our control rain down on your parade.

We CAN do a lot. We can achieve, find love, have children, learn to bake, take classes, start a business etc. So often these concepts come to us with the caveat that this will make me feel whole. If only I had this, then I could be happy. When I reach this stage, I can finally start to feel good.

There are some things we can change and somethings we can’t. And its also ok if we aren’t constantly working to get or be better. Choose to work towards things, set goals and intentions and then put on your running shoes. Go for it!

Do it afraid. Do it wild and fearless and with whatever “feelings” you have that might be barriers to your success. Just remember if you don’t get where you are going, you aren’t a failure, you aren’t less then.

You are part of this one body that is filled with disappointment, disease, things to fear, people we won’t please. The question you can ask yourself is who do you want to become in the world we have now. How can you cover yourself with the grace that has so freely been given to you.

Check in regularly. What am I doing this for? There might be an area for improvement or change. Or maybe its just time to take a nap.

XO,

Shelby

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