I did my best
But I guess my best wasn’t good enough
Cause here we are
Back where we were before
Seems nothin‘ ever changes
We’re back to being strangers
Wondering if we ought to stay
Or head on out the door
Just once, I would like for the feeling of shame to go away, to disappear off my shoulders like a great weight lifted. But shame is like that kid in the Charlie Brown cartoons who carried the dirt with him everywhere he went, so goes shame.
Shame is confusion, an instrument of confuddlement, blinding. Eyes clouded by shame, life is viewed through a narrow reference that is shrouded in shame. If left alone, shame consumes from within, torture and punishment that eats one from the inside out, waiting for the moment when you are ready to burst.
Fortunately for me, I found myself surrounded by a sisterhood who would not allow my shame to confuse me. Each woman was able to pick up on my needs: some knew when to let my cry it out, some knew when to let me vent, some knew to pour another glass of wine, and some knew that my off key flourishing rendition of Broadway musicals were enough to get me through the moment.
Shame is hard to shake loose. No matter how many phony smiles we paste on our face, shame is waiting in the back, ready to topple us from out perch.
My biggest moment of shame came about four years ago, before I found my tribe of women who helped the broken. I was in my favorite cry spot, my car, letting the shame wash over me in waves. A wise woman stopped me from doing a foolish and permanent thing when she demanded I talk to her. Just let it out, she cooed. Non judgmental arms wrapped around me as I ruined her sweater with tears and a runny nose, each tear washed away the stink and sting of my shame, and I realized that I should stand tall in the accomplishment, rather than allow shame to take that honor.
It’s easy to let shame sneak in. As creatures of the mind, shame has a way of seductively ridiculing for things out of your control, past mistakes, and a thwarted view of “what could have been”. Instead of letting shame rule me, I know that shame has shaped me into the woman I continue to evolve into.
This post was inspired by Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas, a novel where former Olympic hopeful Dan destroys his swimming career and his attempt at redemption after prison. Join From Left to Write on September 30th as we discuss Barracuda. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.