A few years ago, I yelled at a friend. I do not remember everything I said, but I know it was ugly and I know we stopped speaking to each other after that night.
Flash forward to last week: I messaged him on Facebook. I told him I was sorry. No excuses. No blame. No expectations for how he would respond.
I am not sure I could pinpoint the exact cause for last week seeming to be the right time to reach out to him, but I do know I could not have done it without learning to love myself. (Hat tip to therapy!) My standard for self-love used to be perfection. (This is unreasonable.) Anything less than perfection was a cause to feel shame and fear rejection. (This is unreasonable.) Shame and fear of rejection caused me to pretend I was perfect, and pretending I was perfect meant isolating myself from anyone who knew otherwise. (This is unreasonable.) I was sorry long before I sent the message, but I could not tell my friend so until I let go of the shame of being downright nasty the last time we spoke.
Parenting my daughter has been a journey in re-parenting myself. A refrain in this teenager-raising household is that there is no shame here. No shame. Only love. You make a mistake? You are loved. You knowingly and eagerly make a poor choice? You are loved. Your behavior bewilders and irritates those around you? You are loved. You are loved you are loved. You never ever ever have to be ashamed of being you even when you look like a fumbling, mistake-making, poor choice-reveling, obnoxious mess of a human.
This is not the parenting I grew up with, but it doesn’t matter now. Because I’ve learned better, I do better with my daughter. And I do better with myself, turning around to tell myself all the things I tell her.There is no shame here. There are times I am unkind. I am loved. There are times I am selfish. I am loved. There are times when I let myself become so afraid or overwhelmed I have no energy to tap into my best self and let her do the talking. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I never ever ever have to be ashamed of being me even when I look like a fumbling, unkind, selfish, fearful, overwhelmed, obnoxious mess of a human.
Accepting myself, loving myself as-is freed me up to admit my ugliness to my friend (as if he did not have a front-row seat to that shit show) and simply be sorry. No hiding. No hemming and hawing. No shame. And, happily, he forgave me.
Imagine how your life would change if you knew that where you are right now there is no shame, only love. We need love. We need to extend all-encompassing love to ourselves. We need to extend all-encompassing love to others. I want to be a person who dismantles shame in favor of building myself and others up with love. Will you join me in creating a space for yourself where there is no shame? Only, always love.
If you are holding onto shame, you might want to give this TedTalk by Brené Brown a listen. She has done amazing work in understanding the effects of shame on a person and the freedom which comes from vulnerability. Her books are also brilliant and life-giving, too.