Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stories of Shame

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I was recently asked to share a story of reconciliation in my life. I answered that yes, like most of us, I have so many stories of relationships that have been mended, but I just don't know how to tell those stories in a way that honors the other people. I stated that I am just not sure how I can share those stories without bringing up accusations toward people who have done me wrong, but I have forgiven. It just doesn't seem fair to them. I mean, I shouldn't share anything that might make them look bad, right? And, obviously, I am just too selfless of a person to call them out in pubic and embarrass them.

A few minutes after this conversation the I came to the painfully embarrassing realization about why I have a hard time thinking of a story of reconciliation I would be willing to share with a room of 50 people. I don't want embarrass me. You would think I would have recognized who I was protecting much earlier in the process, but it was about 10 minutes after I hung up the phone that I realized I didn't want to talk about my stories of reconciliation, because I didn't want to talk about my own moments of humiliation.

I don't want to be exposed. I don't want to be perceived as the type of person that is weak enough to be mistreated, abused, cheated on, lied to, mocked, judged, or even just hurt. I want to be seen as fearless, strong, capable, lovable, desirable. I don't want to share the stories of people who have hurt me and how we have forgiven each other, because I don't want anyone to think of me as wounded, broken, or even healing.

I want to be seen as perfect. I want to be perceived as someone who is so lovable that no one would want to hurt me, ever, and therefore I have no stories of betrayal. I want people to believe have no stories of neglect or rejection, because no one would dream to devalue me.

A few weeks ago I stared reading The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown. She researched shame and with that vulnerability, authenticity and wholeheartedness. I have linked her TED talks before, and I love them.

At some point in the book or video Brown states that courage is telling your story with your whole heart and her book is set up to invite people into wholehearted living.

Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done, and how much is left undone, I am enough... (pg 1)
At first glance, this can sound very self centered, at least to me. Still, one amazing thing I have realized about forgiveness and reconciliation is that it requires compassion, for everyone, including myself. I have to believe I am enough, in order to believe others are enough, and to offer them compassion. "Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It is a relationship between equals." ( pg 16)  Furthermore, if I hide the wrong that has been done, I create walls that prevent it from being undone/healed. Instead I create space for shame to take over. "Shame needs three things to grow out of control in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgment." (pg 40)

So, here is the truth: I am still in process of forgiving; I have been unloved, betrayed, and wounded; I am worthy of more, and so are the people who hurt me; I desire to be unashamed of how I have been treated, and I am working to live in way that allows me to be unashamed of how I have responded.

I am still unsure of what story I will share. I am still wrestling with the shame I feel about ever having allowed anyone to hurt me. Nonetheless, I will at least admit who it is I am hoping to protect, and I will work to recognize that this same protection might be the thing that is preventing me from fully living into forgiveness.


Jill said...

I would love to read this book by Brene Brown. I love her TED video on vulnerability. Thanks for sharing what's on your mind and heart, Sarah-

Simple Diva said...

Jill- thanks for your comment! I love hearing from you. If you would like to barrow the book let me know! I am meeting with a friend to talk about it some more this weekend but would love to share it with you.

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