shame

When The Shame Monster Attacks, Remember That You are Enough

My word for this year is LOVE. In all caps. Not sure why it has to be in all capital letters but I do know that when it came to me, that's how I saw it in my mind; in big, bold, gigantic letters, all capitalized. It seems only fitting that LOVE is my word for 2012. It's also the word God woke me up with on my 29th birthday AND is in the verse I'm meditating on this year.

"He has brought me to his banquet hall, And his banner over me is love."

(Song of Solomon 2:4)

It's only the second month of the year and I'm already pondering and learning a lot about what love is...as well as what it isn't.

Yesterday was a perfect example of what love is not.

Love does not produce or induce shame.

If someone is attempting to shame you or if you feel ashamed of who you are or what you struggle with, that person is not loving you they way they should and you deserve.

I repeat that person is NOT loving you the way they should and you deserve.

Shame and love don't go together....at all.

I had an interaction yesterday that left me reeling and full of unhealthy emotions. I felt unworthy, unlovable, incapable...and full of shame about something I only partially have control over.

My ability to be a good, healthy mother to my son was questioned and even thrown in my face as if to say, "You're a good mom sometimes BUT because of your mental illness, I'm not 100% sure you can do this."  As if to imply that despite all the work I've done to find the right diagnosis and medication, and despite my progress in therapy, NONE of that is enough to overcome the fact that I live with a mental illness. NONE of that overcomes the fact that this person saw the worst parts of me for 2 years....

It hurts when a friend or loved one who's been close enough to see you at your worst, and in your most vulnerable moments, uses that knowledge to attack, shooting you with hollow round bullets instead of love, understanding and grace.

But as bad as that shit hurts and tears your insides apart, it's nothing compared to the Shame Monster who is stirred awake by such destruction and devours you whole.

That's what happened to me yesterday. The Shame Monster came to eat me alive and because I was already reeling from pain, I let him.

But after having two conversations with supportive and loving people in my life, who know about my weaknesses and struggles, I was able to remember one thing

I AM ENOUGH

That one sentence, that one declaration was enough to shrink the Shame Monster to the size of an gnat and become something I could easily swat away.

I am enough.

I don't have to hustle for worthiness.

I don't have to compromise who I am to prove otherwise.

I don't have to work for grace or love because they are already freely and unconditionally given to me from God and the REAL friends & family in my life.

I don't have to overcompensate or prove myself to anyone.

I am enough.

Period.

And that is something I'm learning about love, loving myself, and how others should love and treat me.

We can't change other people or how they treat us most of the time. But we can change and even choose how we respond and react to them and even situations that arise and try to make us feel less than.

We can choose to respond to ourselves with love, remembering that we already are enough, which in turn chokes out shame before it can even erupt and overtake us.

And? I am a damn good mother. Yes I had PPD. Yes I live with anxiety. Yes I am Bipolar.  But I'm a damn good mama because I do what it takes to attain and maintain my health. And that....is enough. End of story

Birthday (& Holiday) Gifts: Less Filler, More Substance

So. It's Friday. The day after Thanksgiving. The day when hundreds of thousands of people have been clamoring, pushing past and at least in California, pepper spraying each other in their pursuit of the all American ideal of consumerism. STUFF! MORE STUFF!

Do we really need more things? Now before you start rolling your eyes and think that this is a post about buying less, becoming a minimalist, or occupying the aisles of Targets & WalMarts in protest, let me assure you it isn't.

It's actually a post about what I want for my birthday.

My birthday that's in exactly 6 days...as in next Thursday...as in DECEMBER 1ST....as in I"m letting you know now so you can flood my FB wall and my Twitter mentions with oodles and oodles of birthday wishes and video dedications!

I'm joking. (am I?)

Strange how social media outlets have altered our expectations of those around us, our "friends" & "followers"...subconsciously pressuring them into feeding our egos celebrating us. I wonder sometimes if we're becoming serial narcissists....

BUT like I said....this is about what I want for my birthday.

I've gotta be honest and say that I completely and I mean COMPLETELY suck at telling people who ask what I want for gifts. Ask me what we should get for a friend, relative, co-worker, boyfriend, hey, I'm oozing suggestions. Ask me what I want for my birthday and I all of a sudden have amensia-my mind goes completely blank. Case in point: Last week my close friend asked me what I wanted. I mumbled something unintelligible and finally said, "I have no idea. Nothing...I don't want anything I guess...I mean....(sigh) dude I have no freaking clue. I don't need anything..." Her response? "Well think about it and let me know."

Darn it. I thought she was going to let me off the hook. Boo.

And I have. Thinking hard. For the past month in therapy I've been unearthing a ton of things about myself and the messages I've been getting from others (ie Parents & Significant Others)...I've been coming to understand how these messages whether verbal or non verbal have helped shaped my sense of identity and the expectations I have for myself. I've slowly come to the realization that I get crappy gifts or gifts that aren't really, well, ME because I've let others define who I am. I let them set my standards, it's their authority and judgement I depend on, it's their opinion that matters. Their needs. Their wants. So the gifts they give me don't really reflect anything about my personality or are even things I actually desire. People give me what they think I should want....what I should need....even what I should wear, since I'm an adult and all. And you know what? I accept them. I wear them. I smile and think that this is exactly what I deserve and yes, this is how I should be celebrated, never paying attention to the fact that I don't like it. I NEVER allow myself to think that I don't like it, and if for some reason I do, I shame myself for being so ungrateful.

I don't go, know, or even ask for what I want because I never thought it mattered. It's never been communicated to me that my needs, my wants, my desires matter. Oh sure, people ask. But they ignore my response, or tell me, "No, you don't need that, this is what you need..." or "Why do you want that? That's not you! You're an adult/a mother/a woman/a (fill in the blank with whatever you can think of) you shouldn't want that."

My dad never asked me what I wanted for Christmas or my birthday. He always bought me what he thought I should have. " I bought you this coin counter because I wanted you to have this. You need it." (I didn't have a coin collection!)

My mom: " I know you said you wanted a bag, but I brought you this purse because you're a grown woman, and women carry nice purses, not messenger bags." "I got this dress for you because it will help you look more grown up."  ( I can't stand purses!)

My ex: "I don't really like that shirt...I mean you could stand to "fem" it up some more. You don't dress like other women." (Dude, while I enjoy dressing up, I'm a mother of 2 boys who doesn't have a lot of time to get ready. I enjoy being comfy. I love wearing flats, chuck taylor's, comfy jeans or dresses & graphic tees w/artwork or a message on them. I wear eye shadow...is that "fem" enough?)

I'm sure you're thinking these are all trivial and I'm whining. I used to think so too. But when you've got a set of mountains in your life called

LACK OF IDENTITY, POOR SELF-IMAGE & UNWORTHINESS

the examples I mentioned don't seem so trivial.

I don't always know what I want because I lack vision as to who I am, what I like, and what makes me feel alive. Why? I don't pay any real attention to myself-why should I when those around me don't? I don't always ask for what I want because when I do, nine times out of ten, I'm ignored or I'm told I shouldn't want it. I don't think about my needs because I've been conditioned like Pavlov's dogs to salivate at the needs of others-theirs come first. Mine second...if at all. I don't go after what I want because I don't feel worthy enough to have it. I don't embrace & live out who I am because I'm always being told that who I am is wrong, I shouldn't be a certain way, and I should be something else.

Well....I'm going to be 29 next Thursday. I have a lot of mixed emotions about that, some good, some not so good, but one emotion that's rising above them all is connected to a desire to just be myself. To ditch the expectations others have constructed for me and build my own. To redefine what normal is, and what is normal for my life, not others. To put down the comparison charts, the standards I flog myself with daily.  To deconstruct the image of how I thought my life should be and embrace something that fits me.

So when it comes to what I want for my birthday, I'm done accepting clearance rack gifts and people who don't take the time and effort to really get me something that says, "This is A'Driane," If I've gotta do better at understanding and communicating what it is I do want, then those in my life have to do a better job at listening and supporting me in this area.

I don't want more "things" either. No more "filler" items. I've determined that starting this year, I will only buy those items that really speak to who I am, my passions, my goals & ambitions. After all, if you're going to spend money, shouldn't it be on stuff that matters? On items that will pour into you and help you be who you are?

I think so.

So...... What do I want for my birthday?

Well....I adore this shirt from TWLOHA

Owning your story and living wholeheartedly is something I've come to believe in.

And speaking of wholehearted living, I'd love something by Brene Brown....

I admire her and her work because a) it helps me and b) This is the kind of work I want to do. (hence the desire to be a counselor, dance movement therapist, social worker, this blog....you get the picture, right?)

The holidays are here. Don't accept things or gifts  that aren't "you." When you're buying a gift for someone, really take the time to think about if it reflects who they are in some way. Don't just buy "stuff." Our culture is rampant with enough "filler" & empty materialism isn't it? Make your gifts to yourself & others count.

Also...I'll take anything by Prince. Do I really have to explain why?

:)

After trauma, teaching hope - CNN.com

Shes matter-of-fact about the tragedy. "Look, I wouldnt have chosen it, but since it did happen, I chose how I was going to respond to it. Because you can still learn from a catastrophe and have some good thing result from it in the future. I make an effort not to dwell on whats a disadvantage, but to turn it into an advantage."

via After trauma, teaching hope - CNN.com. ( I can't put into words how insightful this article is and how necessary it is you read it-especially if you have endured or suffered any trauma in your life, and have dealt with any kind of mental illness as a result.)