Why have I spent a lifetime being deeply, at times debilitatingly, ashamed of the most trivial and ridiculous things? Of pimples, of peeing (yes peeing…and of course every other bodily function), of eating (yes of eating too), of being fat, of not having big enough boobs, of talking at the wrong time, or saying the wrong words, of innocent mistakes (in words, in spelling, in grammar and etiquette).
Why have I spent a lifetime being afraid of my flawed body, of my imperfections, of my perceived faults in personality or behavior?
Yes, there are things I have done, and will do, for which I should feel shame. Knowingly harmful acts— like the countless times I have chosen personal convenience over the good of others. Perfect example, the times I have purchased products without doing the necessary research as to their supply chain, simply because I didn’t want to be bothered at that moment— bothered, as in taking 5 minutes to look something up, perhaps purchase a pricier product, though I was obviously fine with the “bother” which took years off a child’s life while they slaved in making this item (an item I will likely disregard when it no longer serves me).
Actually as I write these words I do begin to see things as they are, to see the unflattering truth behind these insane errors in my calculus. Despite all that I have done to prove otherwise to myself, I still quite desperately desire the approval, the love, of others. So ingrained in my calculations is this need for approval that it colors the way I judge myself in every way. If something might jeopardize said approval I perceive it as bad, shameful, something to be avoided (even if it is in fact an act that would do profound good). And should others excuse and accept me despite doing something horribly harmful (as in the supply chain scenario), well then I don’t pay that transgression too much mind.
So how have I continued to let this ruling principle of approval hold dominion for so long? I excuse it, I rationalize it. Oh boy have I rationalized it, with countless “intelligent” reasons… “I can do more good and help more people if they accept me”, “I can function better in life with someone to love me” etc., etc.
Well I call bull sh*t on myself and anyone else who buys in to this skewed logic, because what actually does some real good, what creates profound change is when we stand up for our ideals, when we reveal our truest selves, when we by our own actions make others less afraid to demonstrate their true humanity too, to see the world through honest eyes. And, as for love, we can never feel truly loved unless we are being our complete and pure self, a self which we can be proud of because it is in agreement with our most noble desires.
So no longer will I let these ridiculous shames stop me from focusing on what I really wish to be, I will merely be this self who is trying to do as much good in the world as she can, and who doesn’t always (or perhaps often) look, sound or behave beautifully, eloquently or acceptably in the process. My hope is that in being my glaringly imperfect self I will help free others to be their truest selves as well.
4 thoughts on “Shame”
Its the exact state of mind that I still fall prey to so I completely understand. Mostly I blame media and comparing ourselves to others but it’s so easy to buy into the thoughts of “if these pimples are gone and I’m ten pounds lightly, everyone will love me more” but there love for us isn’t measured by them counting how many flaws we can get rid of, its the holding hands after an upsetting or happy moment, staying up till late to listen to a story when your friend has someone to talk to or spending your lipstick money on food for the homeless. I believe love grows stronger with kindness and goodness, and to be that way we first need to be that way towards ourselves.
There’s a lot of times you’re going to look in the mirror and wonder why you are the way you are, but when that happens remember all the times people smiled at you, laughed with you and called you their friend, told you they loved you. That’s all you need to know that you are the best you can ever be.
Beautifully said. Thank you for these inspiring words.
Thank you for your piece of mind. So beautifully expressed, so personal and universal. There’s a line in the movie, As Good as it Gets, where Melvin says, “You make me want to be a better man.” Whenever I read the amazing things you write, given from your heart and soul and mind, I can’t help thinking, you make me want to be a better person.
Thanks for all the blogs, but this one in particular made we want to reply. Please please please don’t be ashamed of your body – speaking as a man, I think you’re downright stunning and most women would kill to have your beauty.
I’ve been lucky enough to see you at your most revealing in Bully and Ny-Lon, and I’ve always admired how brave you are for baring all in front of the world. Knowing that you have such reservations about your body just makes me even prouder of you. As you said in your blog, the best way is to confront your fears and take ownership of our perceived hang-ups. None of us are perfect, but being okay with what we have is a big key to being happy in our bodies and overall confidence.
We should have nothing to hide, and I’m glad you wrote this blog to remind me of this. I’m by no means comfortable in my body but strive to reach the level of confidence that you have displayed over the years.
Have a lovely weekend!