My life is different now I swear
I know now what it means to care
About somebody other than myself ...
So if you could find it in your heart
To give a man a second start
I promise things won't end the same
Shame, boatloads of shame
Day after day, more of the same
Blame, please lift it off
Please take it off, please make it stop
~ The Avett Brothers ~ Shame ~
Shame ... more than an emotion like fear or grief, it registers in our hearts as a deeply painful feeling. Most of us recognize it when we want to hide or disappear ... hang our heads, sag our shoulders and unable to look at anyone in the eyes.
So why talk about shame? Well I only recently shared with a confidant that once I was diagnosed, I had moments of shame. I felt embarrassed because in a world where we strive for our lives to be perfect, I failed. I had imagined that I let my family down, I had let my friends down, I had let my work down ... and the worst, I had let myself down.
To add insult to injury, I had recently become a certified personal trainer. I was SUPPOSE to be a picture of perfect health, because NOW I was a professional in the field. What a crock! How could I face clients when I couldn’t walk the talk? How could I expose my feelings of being somehow “less than” women who did not have breast cancer. And then came the thoughts of being “marked” and “unlucky” and inferior because of this diagnosis. I started to think that I had a big scarlet “C” on my forehead.
Yet what I realized is that my feelings of shame were feelings of being worthless and unlovable instead. So familiar. You know the saying that “you have to love yourself before anyone can love you?”, well I secretly wondered how anyone could truly love me because most of my life, I struggled with loving myself.
I know I wasn’t alone ... at least in the feelings of shame. Shame-bound people believe themselves to be seriously flawed. It is a profound feeling of self-rejection ... secretly debilitating, eating away at your soul.
I had to find a way to let those shameful feelings go and realize that they didn’t belong to me. I started to do the work and boy it was an uphill battle. I had to stop carrying the heavy burden and toxic presence. Instead of being the cynic, looking for the “catch” or “hidden agenda” ... I started to truly believe in ME. Replacing self-judgement with self-acceptance ... We are all valued, we are all loved, we are all deserving ... we are all GOD’s children.
And I know that it is a continuous struggle ... believing that you deserve the best, feeling equal to others, and learning to trust yourself. Perhaps this is why cancer came into my life ... to teach me how to finally know what loving myself is all about ...