“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” – Brene Brown
It’s been exactly a month since I wrote anything for my TracyJoy work. Over these past 30 days, I was hoping to put more focused time and energy towards creating thoughtful blog posts and maybe even an new exciting offering, but I didn’t.
Instead, I’ve been hiding, and I need to talk about it.
Shame is extremely destructive and as Brene says, “It erodes our courage and fuels disengagement.” Oh boy, does it ever! I’ve been spiraling downward with shame since January. It started with one thing (that I’ll talk about soon) and it moved to every other aspect of my life soon after.
Shame is a very low, heavy feeling that makes us want to hide.
It comes from the belief that there is something wrong with us. That we are flawed and unworthy of love and belonging. Often, we push shame down so deep that we don’t even know it’s there, but it is. And it affects every part of our life moving forward. I want to share my shame story with you with the intention that it helps you surface any shame that you might be hiding in your life.
On January 3rd, 2017 I peed on a stick, and after two long minutes, I flipped it over and saw a “+” sign.
I stood in disbelief. This wasn’t part of the plan. I can’t have a baby. I’m supposed to be building a business and working towards more teaching opportunities. How’s my husband going to react? We already decided that we were done, that our two boys were enough. And, what is everyone going to say? We’ve been out of the diaper stage for years, and now we’re accidentally having another baby. But wow, this is kinda exciting. Can I even be excited? My body was literally shaking with every emotion possible.
I showed a picture of the pee stick to my husband on his way to work. We didn’t have time to talk about it then, and we didn’t really talk about it that evening. The next day, I started my sessional lecturing contract at the University, and stayed busy with that for the next four months. It was as if I pretended the baby wasn’t happening. I told a couple close friends, but I was beyond terrified telling anyone.
I remember one day writing in my journal “I need to get my shit together for the sake of this baby”.
Since finding out about the pregnancy, I felt bloated, nauseous, gassy, and constipated. I had weeks of major cough and congestion. I knew these were all physical manifestations of my mental and emotional reaction to finding out about the pregnancy. I finally spend some time “downloading” all the thoughts I had about the pregnancy into my journal and realized I was feeling embarrassed, guilty, fearful, worthless and, worse of all, shame. For me, shame came in the the form of: How could I let this happen? It’s all my fault. How could I get knocked up? People aren’t supposed to have a baby at this stage of their lives? Now, I won’t be able to contribute financially to our family, I’m such a burden. I’m useless now.
I know, these are terrible, crazy, ridiculous thoughts – but they were real to me then. I wasn’t aware of them until I finally took the time and courage to process everything almost 4 months later. However, in the mean time, the shame ate away at every part of my life. I hid behind my busy teaching schedule (something that also made me feel important). But the shame hit my TracyJoy business hard. I felt unworthy of coaching people; I felt like a fraud. How can I help people, when I’m in such a terrible state? I completely stopped thinking about my business, and I put zero time and energy into it. Thinking about it (much like the baby) made me feel physically sick. Both Baby and business trigger the shame.
I had dimmed my courage and light with the fear and darkness of shame.
But now I’m telling my shame story, and I’m extremely grateful to have people like you in my life to listen with empathy and understand. The shame is gone, and now I feel completely blessed that this beautiful soul has chosen Justen and I as his/her parents. I know that this baby is just part of my life journey. I also feel that I can come out of hiding with respect to my TracyJoy business; I have a mission to help people connect with their inner wisdom. Telling our shame story allows the deep heavy emotion to surface and move through us. Thank you for listening.
But remember shame happens. It’s just energy vibrating through your body. Don’t be afraid of it. It’s only destructive if you push it down and avoid it.
So, anytime you feel like hiding from something – shame is around the corner. Get curious. Why are you hiding? What do you think you did wrong? Catch it early by becoming aware of your thoughts. Question those thoughts. Remember, shame is just a vibration of energy in your body. You can handle it. And it will naturally pass through you if you let it.
With love and compassion,