It’s been a very interesting week, folks. My planned topic for today was “dealing with guilt and shame,” and while that is still my topic, it’s certainly not the slant I was expecting to take on it. “The Universe”, in its infinite wisdom, delivered more writing material on this topic in just one week than I ever wanted. (Note to self: Limit future blog topics to joy and bliss.)
If the “how-to” article on dealing with these feelings is what you’re looking for, please check out the unbelievably inspiring work of Brené Brown. She’s amazing, and most of what I planned to say is a result of reading her books. If you want my own take on it, stick with me; I still feel on the cusp of something, and I’m writing partially just to figure it out.
This week, I came to the horrible realization that I had hurt a dear friend. Guilt. Huge, huge guilt. I’ve done something that hurt someone I love, and I feel terrible. Riding right on the heels of that is massive, hideous shame. I can lay this hurt on not doing my own work, not seeking my own healing in time to prevent this mess from happening.
Internally I thought it might simply be better if I retreated to some kind of secluded monastery where I could no longer harm anyone with my own unhealed pain. (I’m not dramatic at all.) There is something wrong with who I am. There is something wrong with me at the core – I’m still broken, I still need to be fixed. I’m not good enough yet. Can’t I be healed already?
I’ve been running, running, running from this. Eventually I’ll do enough healing work that I can say I’m okay. Eventually I’ll do enough work that I can claim I fixed myself. I won’t be broken anymore. I’ll be okay. I won’t have to be ashamed anymore. Or so I consoled myself as I wondered just how many more years I would have to spend on a “healing journey.”
Nonetheless, I’ve been doing my best to put the incident with my friend behind me. I apologized, and meant it, and there’s really nothing else I can do at this point. Still, obviously, there was a lingering sense of ick.
Apologizing again would simply be annoying. With no other atoning path in front of me, I’ve instead spent my time being mean to myself and internally wailing about how awful I am.
I was wandering around my neighborhood today, lost in these thoughts, when it finally occurred to me that I’m not helping anyone by doing this. I’m not helping my friend. I’m not helping me. It’s not only painful, it’s completely pointless.
It was something of a spiritual moment for me, as immediately after that, I heard some sort of intuitive voice saying, “what if you are perfectly loved, exactly as you are?” I had to stop for a minute; I nearly broke down weeping just standing on the sidewalk.
What if I am perfectly loved? What if we all are? What if the pain and suffering of believing we’re broken or flawed is actually a way to remain closed and safe? What if I don’t have to do another ten years of slogging healing journey before I can ‘work’ my way out of shame?
What if I choose, today, to allow myself to be perfectly loved and lovable in my own mind, right now?
I have to tell you, friends, the questions scared the hell out of me. Perfect…now? Not the false, “healed” perfection I’ve been desperately striving for, but perfectly loved and lovable in all my messy glory? The amount of love available in that moment of clarity felt so huge, like it might crack open my very soul.
And I can’t help wondering if that is the true role of shame – to keep all that powerful, encompassing love out. If I let go of shame, will all that wild love be available to me all of the time? Will I spend my days weeping with joy? Why is it so incredibly hard to accept being loved exactly as I am, now, no improvement needed?
I’m not a sage or mystic, so I have no answers to these questions. In them, though, I DID find a “path of atonement” for my mistakes. In honor of my friend, I am not choosing shame. In honor of my friend, I’m choosing to love myself exactly as I am. I’m trusting God/Love/the Universe/Whatever will arrange things so that love and healing come not just from my triumphant moments, but from my messy, human mistakes as well.
I’m inviting you to do the same. Just imagine what it would be like – even for this moment – to believe that there is nothing wrong with you. That you are perfectly lovable right now, with all of your beauty and your “flaws.” That healing is something you do to be more connected to Source, instead of something you do to “fix” yourself.
I’ve always viewed my friend as this priceless, radiant, infinitely precious diamond drenched in glitter glue. I’m wondering if we are not all the same way. Desperately distracting others from our true selves, believing we need to hide and make ourselves prettier, when all the while our true selves are the most beautiful gifts we have to offer.