It’s pouring rain here in Australia. I’ve got a candle burning cheerily as I sip rum-flavored coffee and stay nice and dry inside after a wild morning of chasing escaped goats and scolding naughty dogs and moving marooned baby ducklings up onto dry ground. Phew! I am SO happy it’s the weekend.
And so happy for these golden pictures of the sand dunes outside Amsterdam.
I’ve been thinking a lot about shame this week. Not the healthy shame that comes when we’ve behaved badly and hurt someone, but the false shame about things we have no reason to feel ashamed about.
I didn’t realize the extent to which this sort of awful shame had wormed its way into my psyche until I experienced an exquisite disintegration of it this week. This disintegration didn’t come because I was suddenly extra strong or feisty and told it to bugger off. It was simply a natural response to one thing: understanding.
“Understanding is the first step to acceptance,
and only with acceptance can there be recovery.”
For as long as I can remember I’ve been teased, mocked, belittled, and dismissed as “too sensitive” by various people in my life. Because I craved their love and acceptance, I believed their assessment of me.
I became ashamed of my sensitive nature, cursing my quickness to tear up, wishing with all my heart that I didn’t feel things so deeply. I stopped trusting my own judgment, I suppressed my natural feelings and reactions and replaced them with outward displays of “acceptable reactions”, waiting until I got by myself to pour out my real feelings in my journal. I tried to man up and develop a thicker skin so I wouldn’t be so annoying to those people in my life. I tried to not be me, and my world got smaller and darker and terribly lonely.
It is an awful thing to be ashamed of who you are.
Then this week I discovered this website: www.hsperson.com It talks about something called HSP – the Highly Sensitive Person. From the first few sentences I was hooked, my hand over my mouth as I read page after page of descriptions of ME.
Then I cried. Hard. And my teary self looked up at Bear and blurted, “Babe, there’s nothing wrong with me!” It still staggers me.
“To be fully seen by somebody, then,
and be loved anyhow –
this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.”
I can’t describe the healing that has taken place in my spirit since then. To be able to think back to those people who utterly crushed me with their assertions that I was broken somehow and needed to be fixed, that I was something that needed to be hidden, suppressed, or explained away with knowing glances that reduced me to something that was tolerated but never respected.
I say to them all: I don’t believe you any more. I am just fine the way I am.
I’m OK with not watching sports because I feel so bad for the losing team that the tension tears me up inside.
I’m OK with turning off violent movies because they make me so stressed I can’t bear it and want to drop everything and go rescue everybody.
And I’m OK with living a quiet life because a frantic one makes my brain frizzle.
I’m filled with gratitude today for understanding, for self-acceptance, and for the delicious beauty of shamelessness.
“Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made
or dark images you hold about yourself.
They remember your beauty when you feel ugly;
your wholeness when you are broken;
your innocence when you feel guilty;
and your purpose when you are confused.”
I love that kind of love.
Wishing you a beautiful weekend with your dear old self and people who love you just the way you are. xo