I don’t know about you, but looking back on my life, there are so many things I’ve done that weren’t considered “right” or “good.” I carry with me a suitcase of shameful thoughts about myself. I’m not good enough. I’m not a good enough mom. I’m not a good enough human being.
Sometimes, shame hits me like a freight train. I feel like I’m drowning and I can’t catch my breath. My mind doesn’t stop racing, judging, obsessing. I obsess over what other people think of me. I want people to think I’m a good person. What if as a good person, I’ve done mean things to people or hurt people? What then? Well, kid … welcome to the human race.
I know the tool of forgiveness and making amends. I know the tool of prayer and therapy. It sometimes still doesn’t uplift the shame I feel as a 37 year old mom who is just imperfect … like everyone on this planet.
I know change is a real thing. I am almost 5 years sober from alcohol so I know that there are miracles in this world. I’m not sure if it’s the holidays that bring this out in me. I wanted to write about this because shame serves a purpose for me. It holds a mirror up to my face and allows me to see that I AM NOT THE PERSON my mind has me thinking I am at times.
I’m a good person. I know that deep down in my soul. I’m working today on staying true to my heart and true to my soul, even if it means hurting people who are sometimes on my path. I’m the girl who can be in a room of 21 people and 20 of them love me but 1 does not like me at all.
The whole party, I’m worried about that 1 person who doesn’t like me. How can I get them to like me? Should I compliment their outfit? Should I ask them about their work or children?
These are the obsessive thoughts that run through my head. I need to remember that self-compassion is the key here. I need to be gentle with myself and surround myself with people who want to support me and love me and protect me. THIS IS THE SOLUTION.
My recovery from dealing with my shame in a healthy way has been a long hard journey. I’ll leave you with this quote that I found in my countless readings that I do each week to help me grow and see things differently than my mind has me see them.
“The World is filled with people who, no matter what you do, will point blank, not like you. But it is also filled with those who will love you fiercely. They are your people. You are not for everyone and that’s OK. Talk to the people who can hear you. Don’t waste your precious time and gifts trying to convince them of your value, they won’t want what you’re selling.
Don’t convince them to walk alongside you. You’ll be wasting your time and theirs and will likely inflict unnecessary wounds, which will take precious time to heal. You are not for them and they are not for you, politely wave them on, and continue along your way. Sharing your path with someone is a sacred gift, don’t cheapen this gift by rolling yours in the wrong direction.”
Keep Facing Your True North.
Shame has me wanting to head south. Another great teaching has me believing that I should not regret my past, nor should I want to shut the door on it, for it is my past mistakes and heartaches and pain that has grown me and taught me the type of woman I want to become. By sharing my own shame story and how I continue to work through it, well, it may help some other person who is in the throws of their own shame spiral and is not sure how to get out of it or possibly can’t afford therapy.
Keep your army of people who love you fiercely around you. Accept that imperfection is a part of our humanness (I think I just made that word up). Take a deep breath and keep facing true north because shame can’t survive empathy. With that said, be kind to yourself this holiday season. Count your blessings. You are loved and you are not alone.
Kelly Rovetto is a working mother of 2 who is almost 5 years sober from drugs and alcohol. She spends her free time working at Grace House, a women’s recovery center here in New Orleans, and she loves to workout and spend time with her family and friends.