Shame is a powerful driving force in our lives. We often times fail to mention details of our lives, or greatly exaggerate others in order to hide aspects of ourselves that we are ashamed of.
I am 27 years old and within those 27 years I have be confronted with and produced situations in my life that have caused me to feel tremendous shame.
I am the second child of a middle class family. My mother’s side Hungarian immigrants, and my father’s an aboriginal military family. I had a modest upbringing, where clothes were hand me downs of hand me downs. We weren’t afforded to many luxuries as children, but my mother ensured to always present us well. Our haircuts were always proper, our clothes neat and clean. I didn’t find out until later in life that much of the presentation, was to ensure that other families were not made aware of our modest family lifestyle.
My mother grew up quite poor, and tried to ensure that even though we were living next to poverty level we were never perceived that way. Clothes needed to be brand name, and everything else in order even though they may be second hand.
I don’t want to be one to use excuses, but I believe this had an adverse effect on my life. It made hyper vigilant of other’s opinions of me and the fact that I always needed to meet a standard.
This is where shame kicks in. I believe these standards that I’ve set for myself, and others, has been unrealistic. I cannot measure up, and no one else has ever been able to as well. It’s led me down a path in the past that I am not overly proud of. I have not lived my life according to my morals and values. I have not been the person that I have set myself out to be. What I have said, and what I have done do not perfectly align.
I came out when I was around 20 years old. Coming out was met with extreme shaming on the part of myself and my family. I could no longer provide that white picket fence with the beautiful wife and 2.5 kids that was to be expected of me. I couldn’t measure up to those standards, and I had a lot of difficulty in coming to terms with that. I believe I placed a lot of the blame on my parents, when it may have actually been mostly internalized shame.
I’ve been in a few long term relationships in my life, and have wrestled with infidelity. Some people have been made publicly aware of my most recent breakup and have taken to social media to condemn me in many ways that I have previously not made public. The messages I’ve received have been seething with hate, and shaming me for being an immoral and bad person.
I am trying to bring these things to light in order to dispel the shame from my life. I have not been a morally sound person in the past, but I have made a conscious effort in order to change that. I am truly attempting to lean into the discomfort of being honest about the things that bring me shame. I have not been a good person in many aspects, but that does not mean I am not a good person.
I have felt a terrible fallout in my life because of my actions. I have felt shame, I have felt persecution, I have felt depression, and I have felt regret. It’s something that I have only recently come to the realization of : There are some things you can’t come back from.
No matter how hard you try, or how much you may want things to change, there are some things in your life that you have no control over. I recently spoke to it as a card game. There comes a point in your life where you have played all your hands, and you are left with no more cards to play.
Now, in regards to that metaphor the appropriate reaction may be to step away from the table and resign that you have lost. However, this is my life and I’m choosing to buy back in. I want another chance. I want another round to prove that I am and can be the person that I want to be, the person I truly believe myself to be.
I’ve started by attempting to mend relationships that were broken because of me. Whether these be with family, friends or past romantic partners. I’m attempting to love myself for who I am, not who I think I should be. I’m actively trying to better myself daily, and be what my morals and values want me to be. It may be too little too late in some situations, but I am trying. It’s all I can do.
Life does not ever go according to plan. Things don’t work out the way that we hope, and we need to learn to course correct. We atone for our sins and we attempt to make ourself righteous again. I don’t think it is too late, and I truly hope that it isn’t.
Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. Help others.