I have spent my life hiding, hiding from myself, hiding from my family and friends, hiding from acquaintances and strangers; from anyone who could judge and bully me, who would make me feel guilty for who I am, shame me into being someone I am not, so much, I often don’t know who I am and when I do, am unsure how to be brave enough to be that person. I’ve always wanted to do better, not just be good enough, but to be the best, so good I wouldn’t need to change, or apologize for who I am.
I know that people think I am brave, fierce, intimidating, intense, whatever noun you want to use, and perhaps I am, in some scenarios? But when it comes down to the ugly parts, the parts that make others uncomfortable or cringe, I am not. I am afraid of being disliked, judged, shunned and bullied!
As I’m writing this, it’s funny, you would think that the people who I work with or come to my classes would be my big concern, or maybe I have some judgemental friends; but the true fear is my family! They shame with the best of them, being very vocal and public about it; I’m sure they would disagree, but as someone who has spent their whole life being shamed by these people, being squished in to a box, told I’m wrong, need to change, stop, do better, go harder, be stronger, don’t cry, be tougher, you got 2nd, why not 1st, let me tell you, they absolutely do shame!! Not only do they shame, they are like a big bunch of elephants, not forgetting anything; so even if it happened 25 years ago, well it still seems worth bringing up and making someone feel shitty about.
I know everyone has shit in their past, some history is worse than others. My guess is lots of people probably have skeletons in their closet, they hope no one ever sees, they hope they themselves can forget about forever; at least that’s how I am. I have a very unsightly history, not just in adulthood, but all the way from childhood through to present. History I have been scared to talk about, scared to reveal, not only did I not want to be accused of being a liar, making a mountain out of a mole hill, I didn’t want to hurt anyone else involved or hurt those who say they love me, so I’ve kept it to myself.
Over the years I have become, what I thought, was an open book of a person, talking about all the different things going on in my life, giving my opinion, being loud and boisterous; but in that time, I built a wall, around myself, my feelings and all the things I thought would hurt me. I thought people knew me, that I wore everything on my sleeve; but someone very important to me, finally brought it to my attention, even those who ‘knew me’, didn’t really know me at all, because the real me is buried deep and frantically guarded.
Of course the real me is buried, because if people knew how awful I was, the horrible things I had done, the awful things I have seen, how could they ever look at me the same again? How could they still like me or want me in their life? I would then be utterly alone, not the alone I feel now, knowing no one else could possibly feel this awful and worthless; but truly alone, with no one to talk to, lean on, share with and that would be positively, heart wrenching!
In the last year, since really getting serious about recovery, I have made some extraordinary friends and reconnected with some old friends, I thought I had pushed away forever. I have begun to allow myself to become vulnerable, which has granted others access, to a few of those darker spots I had kept hidden. What happened afterwards, wasn’t what I had always feared, I wasn’t rejected, I was instead embraced, strengthening the bonds we had already begun to build, making me feel supported and loved. I realize the grave error, in my backwards thinking; the terrible injustice anyone who has been shamed, has to suffer.
With my new discovery, my new lease on real friendships and building blocks of a stronger self, I am going to air my grotesque history, in the hopes it will help me finally heal, but also my stories will find someone else who needs them, when they are feeling guilty and alone. There is always someone out there, someone to share with, someone who understands, someone who will listen without judgement.
WE are not alone!