“I decided that the single most subversive, revolutionary thing I could do was to show up for my life and not be ashamed.”
As I've mentioned before, I grew up in a mill town on the wrong side of the tracks. In that small town, population under 10,000, lived the very rich and the very poor and a little sliver of folks in the middle. Not only was the town racially segregated, but it was also segregated by social class. If your family had means, you lived in one particular area of town that had large houses with confident addresses. If not, then you lived wherever you could manage the rent. The underlying assumption seemed to be that you could work hard and aspire to become “somebody,” but if you hadn't been born into it, you would never make it past the entrance to that posh neighborhood. If you were black, you would only make it there to mow the grass or keep the house clean. The other understanding was that you should feel ashamed for not being among the gentry—that you would always and forever be “less than.”
Now, as an adult, I can look back on that childhood experience and realize that the image I held of that little town may not have been based in reality. It's possible that I was steeped in shame on my own; that no one else put that on me. When I go back there, and encounter the people who are denizens of the town, they are friendly and open-hearted. Perhaps they always were. Certainly, they didn't have any power over me that I didn't give them, but it's hard to know that as a child.
Feeling shame is like having an anchor attached to your ankle. You can drag it around your whole life for any number of reasons. You can make a list of all the things that caused you to feel unworthy, unlovable, unacceptable—but no one will be blessed, or even enhanced by it. Your shame serves no one, so why continue to entertain it.
Letting go of shame is a process. Most of the time, we need reminders; we take a few steps forward and a few back. Learning to be okay with who you are, and who you've always been is a boon to the world. What the world requires is a fully developed, expansive you. Bring everything you have to this day, and there will be no room for shame.
In the Spirit,