There have been many amazing writers tackling the subject of shame. My thoughts are not original by any means, merely my own processing and personal insights. As always, making art and writing are my way of shining a light on things that would rather remain hidden away, creating havok in my life.
At some point like Adam and Eve in the garden, we realize there’s something about us to feel ashamed of. No matter where it starts, we realize our nakedness, or the ways in which we don’t measure up in the world, and begin a process of course correcting. Like little aliens, we gather the spoken and unspoken ways in which our child brains are told are bad or unsavory and we make a plan. We build a standard out of those things we interpret from the people we know and how we can not be naked, and therefore judged, exiled in a million small ways. To not follow the rules of being a person means a disconnect from safety and love. And we are built for connection. We need safety to find ourselves, to bloom into our unique magick.
So our standard grows into a living, breathing thing. But at some point, it breaks down. It’s an impossible task master. And as much as we want freedom, once we realize those standards are bullshit ways to live, it is hard wired into our brains. Most often, there is some level of trauma around it and we have a whole library of evidence as to why we are not ok, in whatever various way it shows up. I’m pretty sure shame is universal, as we live in a world that operates on a system of shame in many ways. Even without our nasty inner voices, everywhere we look there are people making judgments on everything. Often cruel over even minor ways other people exist. Not to mention the voice of shame for the very core of what we are, echoing and mirroring back that very first time we felt shame for something. Even after all the progress I’ve made in my various facets, my palms still get sweaty and my heart races over some of the things people say, usually online since I am a hermit, that poke at the things I have hidden for so long and am just now letting out. Hard wired fear of exile.
Most of us, when we are honest with ourselves, realize we will never meet the high standards we put in place to be good people, to not be a burden to those we love, to gain favor in the eyes of those we so want approval from. And then the breakdown occurs. And shame comes in like a devouring monster screaming of our uselessness to life itself.
It’s a deep and insidious thing and we built it out of a need for protection but also to survive. Shame exiles you to a shadow land where nothing is ever ok. It’s always looking for a way to confirm itself. To prove its belief. Just when you think you’ve made progress in one area, it hyper focuses on another. Like a poison spreading through your existence. Until we get to the root of it. And pull it out exposing the truth in the light of day.
But it’s not a battle of violence. It’s about exposure and kindness in equal measures. When we live in deep shame for the very thing that we are and it touches all the moving parts of us, it can take some time to gain the ability to believe in the kindness of others. It can take even more to learn how to set those high self standards aside and show kindness to ourselves. But I always come back to kindness in my own journey. The spiral of shame I am currently processing is one that takes me back to my birth and has colored every aspect of my life. It has me hiding away, hiding my gifts, taking my creations out of the public eye, failing to find any purpose in using my voice at all, silent and refusing to be comforted. It comes out disguised as many things, often in extreme and volatile emotion, like a wounded animal who refuses to even allow itself to lick it’s own wounds. Sometimes I feel that this animal has taken over my entire body and I am defenseless against it until the hurt is seen.
I know my kindness must be just as relentless. I must also keep pushing my very fragile heart out into the sunlight. As painful as it feels to be seen right now. Or I cannot fathom the consequences of what will occur if I don’t. I feel like I am drowning every day, but this is a big discovery and awareness. And so for now, kindness. For whatever comes next, we will have to see. My curiosity is greater than my fear.
And my soul is going wither up and die unless I let the water of kindness and compassion soak into my bones. I must find a way to be here in full color. There is no other choice.
While you are here, a quick welcome to my new space. We have moved the website to a more secure host and will hopefully find a smoother experience as we rebuild this space. As always, a huge thank you to Tonia who continues to show me love and kindness as she helps me find a safe space to be here in the ethers. We are still tweaking the design but I am already loving it. Take a peek around if you want and as always, you can find my art in Etsy.