When in doubt, turn to TED Talks where they have archived videos of the most amazing minds of our time talking on most any topic you can imagine. If you do not already take advantage of this groovy resource, follow this LINK and start now…well, after you’ve finished this blog of course.
Some of my favorite talks are by the brilliant Brene’ Brown and cover the topics of vulnerability and shame. On the topic of guilt verses shame, she essentially points out, guilt is ‘I did bad.’ shame is ‘I am bad,’ and points out, “Shame is a straight jacket. Unlike the paralyzing effects of shame, guilt often prompts us to make amends or change our behavior.”
It has taken me years to personally separate shame and guilt. Last week, an anonymous reader gave me a completely unintended but beautiful gift when they began sending me venomous messages through my Contact Form. One had assertions such as “you do resemble a very unattractive drag queen” and “His indiscretions are nothing more than KARMA biting a chunk off of that big fat ass.” Another included the following statements. Of course, I had to clean up the spelling and grammar but…
“The drugs and alcohol. The mental disorder you've had, but refuse to admit. Your dad was a drunk. Your mom was a pill head.”
This is just a small sampling. In the past, these accusations would have sent me spiraling into a cesspool of shame because they are all factually true. However, instead I sat with these comments, let them absorb deep within me, and then realized that I did not feel shame. I felt ownership. My parent’s addictions were an integral part of what made me who I am. My past bouts with mental illness…I once got locked up for a long weekend and spent Memorial Day in the madhouse…are also an important part of my complex story. Though my drinking could be considered excessive, it’s not like I try to hide it. Afterall, you’re reading the Bourbonista blog. I have been mistaken for a drag queen on more than one occasion. But seeing how many of the drag queens I know are stunning, I’ll accept it. My ass is large, and round, and very appealing to a certain segment of the population, including my husband.
Do I feel guilt for some of the thoughtless and even cruel things that I have done throughout my life? Absolutely. And, for most, I have done my best to make amends.
But, I am finally secure enough in my worth that even the kind of hatred spewed above cannot sway me off course. I will continue to make mistakes and then do whatever I can to remedy them. I will inadvertently disappoint and upset people, but vow to heal more than I hurt. I will say and do really stupid things, but learn from them. I will fail, and then I will get up and try again. I will be the fullest version of myself, and I will not apologize for that.
One message also asserted, “You want to fit in with the multifarious. You want to be liked,” as if that were an insult. Yes, I want to be surrounded with and appreciated by a vastly diverse sea of people from all walks of life. And yes, I do want to be liked. Furthermore, I want to be loved. Everyone deserves to be. And, there is no shame in that!
So, to the masked messenger, thanks for the vitriol and giving me the opportunity to know that the hard work I have put into living a life that is not shame-based has not been in vain.
the bourbonistA, Promoting Debauchery and stamping out political-correctness one blog at a time.