A One Night Stand with Shame
Before I get to the topic of this post, I want to reflect out loud about what I’m going for with my blog. I think I’m finding my voice – real, awkward, humorous, relevant – and that’s exciting for me.
Getting this note a few weeks ago made my day!
“I usually save your posts to savor later,
when I’m in a quiet and private space,
but I felt compelled to read this one right away!
It spoke to me urgently and expressively.
Thank you for providing this frank and honest post this morning,
on the opening of the New Year.”
Private and chic. That’s how I want my blog to feel. Why chic? Because I’m all about pretty. My spirit combines the quirkiness of Audrey Hepburn, the timeless classic nature of Coco Chanel and the accidental humor of Mary Tyler Moore.
Relaxed and ready to reflect. That’s how I want you to feel. Kind of like meeting up with friends for drinks or coffee at your favorite hangout. In fact, go grab a glass of wine, beer, coffee, or even chocolate shake. Seriously. Go! I’ll be here when you get back.
Curious. That’s what I want you to be. Curious about your super interesting life experience and how it is contributing to the continual unfolding of cosmic consciousness.
Willingness to share my most intense and meaningful life experiences, combined with my expertise in and passion for depth psychology means my blog posts are thoughtful, practical, and real.
Back to this post:
As tight as your friend group may be, there is probably at least one secret you’ve kept from them. Something for which you feel shame, something that you shoved into the repression closet. Repression is a great short-term fix. Not so much for the long term.
This post is about shame.
Great Start to a New Year!
It turned out, taking stock of 2020 would pay off for me. If you read my New Year’s Day post: Vacuum Cleaners and Ex-Husbands: Life Lessons, this story picks up there.
January first was a very good day. January second went even better. For two weeks, every single day felt amazing.
“It’s true! One day can make all the difference,” I told my sister on day fifteen. I hadn’t had this many days of feeling confident and purposeful in years. Interestingly, nothing had changed when it came to my biggest challenge. Still no job.
“I’m so glad," my sister said. She is the best listener ever. I’ll put her up against your sister any day. She’ll always say, “You just need to talk,” after I catch myself going on and on.
“Yay! New neural connections!” I proclaimed to a friend on another day. Another week had gone by of feeling great. I had to pinch myself. I knew that the longer my stretch of feeling good lasted, the more I would be able to maintain the momentum. It’s not that I’d been feeling bad. But my body and brain had gotten used to feeling anxious and insecure over the past couple years. Without any drama to focus on, my body and mind were freaking out.
But now, I’m back, I thought. I was on fire. I bought a membership to Mindvalley, the cutting-edge online learning platform for human transformation. Ken Honda’s Money EQ quest would be my first quest.
Then I started the Whole30 program in February. No grains, dairy, alcohol, or sugar for thirty days. Sure, why not. Let’s just dive into new habits, I told myself. I had been wondering about the impact of alcohol on my brain chemistry and sleep quality anyway. Hard to say, occasional menopause symptoms make it impossible to know what works and what doesn’t on any given day.
Believe it or not, giving up alcohol was the easiest of the four items. My daily piece of toasted sprout bread with butter was the hardest thing to give up. But I was doing it. My sleeping definitely improved. And my good mood continued.
The weekend-long writing retreat in early February was fantastic, and I was ready for the next phase of memoir writing – turning my second draft into a third draft.
Like I said, I was on fire. Fifty-seven straight days of feeling fantastic.
I Only Want to Feel Good Now!
I feel weird today, I wrote in my journal a few days before the end of February. No!
“I don’t want to go to any of my usual places,” I told my sister after the third day of feeling weird. “I just feel bleh.” I like that word - bleh. It perfectly captures what I feel like sometimes.
“Well, that’s what you do. You hang out for a while, and then you find a new place.” That was true. I was feeling restless again. And sensitive. And irritable. Don’t judge, I told myself.
On day twenty-seven of the thirty-day elimination diet, I decided that I was done. I considered it a wild success! The idea was to re-introduce those items back into your diet gradually. Not me. Two glasses of wine on the first day. Yikes! Hangover the next day, including booze depression. Sprout bread toasted with butter on the second day. Yummy, but immediate bloating. Dark chocolate on the third day. That one was okay.
What did I learn?
Well, I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol, and I do not like the way I feel the day after a two-drink night. Eliminating grains permanently (even gluten free) is definitely good. Two squares of dark chocolate per day is staying.
Week one of memoir writing went great. “I know what I’m doing now,” I excitedly told my sister. My post to the group of the prologue and first chapter received constructive and affirming critiques.
But the the next week's critiques, “We need to know more about the husband and the marriage. Why you stayed for twenty-four years.” The first draft of my memoir was a brain dump of all the juicy details of my first post-divorce romance. The second draft included thoughtful details about that man’s life. Now, I was needing to share thoughtful details about the man with whom I had spent half my life.
What to share. How to share. To honor the relationship with the man who was instrumental in facilitating my growth.
My unconscious doesn’t have much patience for me anymore. It knows I know more than I want to know sometimes. It kindly brought me a dream to nudge me along.
While I slept
There was a huge indoor pool. The water went so deep.
I said to the man next to me, “I can’t imagine being able to
Hold my breath long enough to go to the bottom and . . .”
He grabbed my arm and we jumped in.
I went to the bottom and then swam up.
The water was so clear.
The next morning, I said to my cat, Professor Langley, “I need to just feel the way I feel.” I grabbed my cat’s face, looked him straight in the eye and said, “Stop resisting.” I was talking to myself of course.
Writing about the subtle dynamic that emerged in the early days of my marriage felt like I was starting therapy all over again. I knew there was something new that would come of this. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be fighting it. And I'm in my fifties now, so I'm all about living my truth.
Casa Marina is this adorable small historic hotel right on the beach. I found it a couple weeks after my big move down to Florida. The Cosmo’s are my favorite, and the accompanying ocean view definitely fuels my writing.
A memory of something came up. The shame washed over me. I thought I had dealt with that, I told myself. Now, it was there, staring me in the face again. I had to give myself permission to write about it. I can edit it, I told myself. Typing it took me right back to that moment when I felt horrified with myself. I guess I hadn’t fully dealt with it. One Cosmo. I wrote. A second Cosmo. I wrote more.
Fuck Shame - Literally!
While I slept:
My ex-husband and I were standing in a bathroom.
We were both naked.
He looked at me and asked, “What do you want?”
I said, “Get in me.”
And then I said, “I haven’t trimmed in a while.”
Remember, if you think you know what a dream means right away, you’re wrong. I didn’t know. I knew that my ex-husband was reflecting back a piece of me. And I knew that the sexual part had something to do with becoming intimate with that part of me. But it took me a couple days to figure it out.
Two days later:
I bravely posted two chapters that provided insights into the potential beginning of the subtle dynamic that would grow over twenty-four years of marriage. It was complex. It was this give and take. No one was clearly to blame for what it grew into.
I hadn’t dreamt this much in a while. That night, while I slept:
There was a baby.
And just a feeling of going one way or another.
A kind of tipping point, or pivot point.
The next day
I laughed, when I got it. “Get in me!” I had to not just accept this intertwining of shame that my husband and I likely shared. I had to have sex with it, I had to be intimate with it. Out of the sexual encounter with my shame would emerge something new.
Three days later
Over a glass of Petite Syrah
I know better than to make myself go places that I’m just not into anymore. One day last week, when I was feeling restless, I decided to just drive west, to San Marco, which is just out of downtown Jacksonville. Posting House is my new place. Cute little wine bar.
In my first dream, the man in the pool was that part of me that knew I could withstand another dive into my depths. This time, the water was very clear. Shame is the hardest thing to overcome, I think. The next dream seemed quite clear about what needed to be done.
Now what? What about the baby? The other day I asked the Divine, “What is the real purpose of my memoir?” It’s already evolved since I began this writing journey. Love and compassion were the words I received.
Shame serves no productive purpose. Guilt, yes. Shame, no. My memoir is turning out to be about more than my own inner reconciliation. It’s also about the complexity of relations between men and women, between a husband and a wife. I don’t know exactly where this all is going, but I trust my inner being’s guidance to turn my memoir into something that will be of service to many people.
Do You Have Secrets?
What a silly question. Maybe it’s not even a secret, just something for which you still feel shame, regret or embarrassment.
Whenever I gain a little belly fat, I know I’m hanging onto something. How about you? During the manic time that I was in denial about something not being right in my marriage, I gained fifteen pounds for no apparent reason. As soon as I started therapy, the weight started melting off my body. After giving myself eighteen months to try to fix my marriage, the final permission to let it go, resulted in my getting to my ideal weight.
I feel better now. Fifty-seven days of feeling fantastic is pretty damn good. Having a little shame transmute into creative energy – words that might help someone else – is an amazing tradeoff for a few days of bleh.
Make friends with your anxiety (or depression) – It’s there for contrast as Esther Hicks says. Anxiety is your cue that something is not quite right. If you’re in a situation that doesn’t make you happy, don’t fret or judge yourself. The situation is there to help you be clearer about what you really want. If you’re fighting your anxiety, you’re fighting the truth about yourself. The truth can suck at first, but then it does set you free.
Listen to your body – Whatever you are in denial about will show up in your body. Extra weight is the most obvious. Fall recently? Have a pain in your neck? Ask your aches and pains what they’re trying to tell you. Sometimes, the metaphor is literal.
Pay attention to your dreams – It can be difficult to find the meaning in a single dream, however, themes and patterns emerge over time. The more you pay attention to your dreams, the quicker you can decode the message.
Need some Deb Time? Feeling a little anxious and uncertain in a world that is in the midst of all sorts of reckoning? Looking for meaning or a renewed sense of purpose? It’s not only individuals that self-actualize or individuate. Are you part of the twenty percent prompting a jump in human consciousness? Send me a note if you’re interested in having a framework for your journey forward.
If you enjoyed this post, please like it, comment on it, and share it with others.
Also, if you enjoyed these images, take a moment to show your appreciation by checking out the work of the photographers.
Thank you to Kristina Flour for the "Secrets" photo.
Thank you to Miguel Bruna for the "I'm on Fire" photo.