Shame

Wow. This year so far…very…not so cool. A lot going on–the big changes, the kind they show in Psychology Stressor lists.  Not all on me, but on everyone around me.  I feel like I am treading water, and holding heads up, and yelling instructions, and losing track of drifters.  Bumping into wreckage in the water.  Feeling horror that my people are treading, having been treading for a long time, and some are not getting any closer to land.  Renewed sorrow that meets with a first ‘anniversary’…loss of a relationship that drowned, one that I was always taught was eternal.  People being stupid and driving their boats over water-treaders.  Me NOT KNOWING a TON of things.  Including life raft locations. Hating that.  Feeling defective about it even though I know I can’t know.  And the not knowing is evident to others and I prefer to hide my ignorance, thank you very much.

Add to that (not really a big deal, but kind of a big deal) the weather is nodding its head in acknowledgement that soon it will be 110 degrees…and I want to finish my mosaic and play in my garden and harrumph, harrumph, harrumph..

Health stuff, relationship stuff, work stuff, environment stuff.  Yikes.  It’s everywhere.

I was watching me closely.  Making sure that I was monitoring my own mental health, my own internal talk, my own self care.  I thought I had set it all up to be supported and safe during this time of Oh, Holy Crap-ness.  And I was…for the big stuff.  That’s the not-so-funny thing about shame.  If it can’t get me on the big stuff, where I am on guard and prepared, it’ll pull sneaky underhanded things to get me.  Like using the me-not-knowing-stuff. For example, I was in a social situation where I was asked a question and I speculated.  Turns out I was wrong in my speculation.  Nothing that would be particularly damaging–no one was picking stocks on the New York Exchange from it.  But finding out I was wrong triggered a huge need to fix it.  Fix it NOWWWWWW.  I couldn’t stand it–I won’t be in this social setting again for a whole week.  I found myself rehearsing my lines of me correcting my error.  Repeatedly.  With anxiety.

I caught myself and kind of laughed.  Really?  With X,Y, Z happening, THIS is your hang-up?  This is your malfunction?  You could be obsessing over at least a dozen much more important issues…and went off on a mental train about how this was actually further evidence of my reason to feel shame.

But I know that this is how shame works.  It will use any foothold to work it’s way in and scramble the brain.  And I was letting it.

But here is where it is different than in the past:  I felt the pull of the shame spiral downwards.  I looped it a few times, true.  But then I put on the brakes and examined it.  It was then I could see it for what it truly was, question the reality of it and dismiss it.  It was then that I could see that the underlying stuff going on around me was having an effect, and I could deal with those feelings directly instead of obsessing over a minor event and feeling shame.  Some of the techniques for this are “simple” in design but not implementation:  Acknowledging what hurts.  Allowing the feelings to be what they are without judgment, for a time period, then engaging in a behavior that breaks the chain…which for me, this morning, was actually an exercise class at my gym.  (I am almost as surprised as you are.)   Today it was pump up the volume music and sweat.  Tomorrow it may be creating a piece of art.  Or visiting a friend.  Or writing a letter I will never send.  Something.  An action.

Why do I tell you this?  To say, don’t give up.  If you are a person who checks out this blog, you probably lean towards the creative side, which has its own particular shades of darkness to it.  It is the price we pay to do the work, or appreciate the work.  I write this to say that your state of mind is always with you, but you don’t have to live with everything you think.  It can always be looked at, modified and challenged.  That you and I can wake up in the morning and work on our responses and patterns,  not to become new and improved but to become whole and more completely ourselves.   To live more gently with our minds.  Which is actually quite a kindness.  And I tell you this just to celebrate it…one more little victory that needs to be nodded to, so that instead of being forgotten next time I am at the top of the spiral, I can point back and say, “No.  I don’t have to respond this way!”  And that is worth celebrating!

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~ by collidescopes on April 10, 2014.

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