I had an incredible moment of clarity with my therapist this week. As we were discussing my issues in how I process and work through my mistakes, she helped me to wrap my brain around something that I’ve always known as factual, but I have never been able to accept about myself.
When it comes to our mistakes, there are three types of reactions: Guilt, Shame and Confusion. I have known this, but I’ve always struggled to differentiate between these, feeling two or all three simultaneously more often than not.
As a 9 year-old, I was a victim of sexual abuse. I never told anyone about this until about 10 years ago – because my 9-year-old brain could not comprehend what had truly happened to me, I felt all three of these feelings, and have always thought that this was the “normal” way that I should have felt and should feel when I have wronged someone or felt wronged by someone.
In junior high, I had an incident for which I was teased immensely, and absolutely no one had any idea of how it had a similar correlation to my abuse experience. From that point all the way through my adult life, I’d always felt flawed, and that I was not as good or worthy of the people around me. It impacted my self esteem, my grades, and my ability to make friendships. My temper manifested itself as sarcasm, blatant immaturity, and a constant feeling that I had to prove myself.
I consider my 20’s as my “total fuckup” decade, as my inability and confusion about guilt versus shame only added more gas to the fire, causing me to make even bigger mistakes, where I truly hurt people, and then it just became a vicious cycle. There was one girl (for sake of anonymity, I’ll just call her Francesa) for whom I had a serious crush, and although she was always kind to me, my feelings of not being good enough for her triggered many decisions that did not warrant good judgment. The mistakes I made only made me feel more guilt and shame, which triggered the desire to try and prove to her that she was wrong…..which led to more mistakes, and the cycle just kept going around and around. Francesca did not deserve that, and for the last 25 years, I’ve felt not just the guilt, but the shame (and the inability to forgive myself) for the pain I caused her.
In my head, my mistakes have always “played on a loop” because I remember the majority of these in great detail. As easy as it is to say there’s a difference between guilt (acknowledging a mistake, asking for forgiveness, then forgiving yourself) and shame (the inability to forgive yourself, even if forgiven by others), I still struggle to feel the difference.
I’m not writing this to receive sympathy from anyone. I’m writing this because after nearly 50 years of keeping this all bottled up inside and feeling a level of shame that is off the charts, I can’t do it anymore. As much as there’s a part of me that wishes that I could apologize to everyone that I’ve hurt for many years, the only thing I can do is to finally forgive myself and move forward. #ImWorthy 😊
What I learned from my Facebook-one-day-return-and-leave experience from yesterday…..
It was nice to reconnect with people, but I still prefer not being on there, at least not on a regular basis;
I’m glad that the blog now has a bigger audience;
Zuckerberg still gets the last laugh, as I have to keep the account open to communicate the blog.
I’m sure I’ll reach out to people again on FB at some point….I’m a work in progress (hell, we all are works in progress!), and I like having my own little space to write when I want to write, and not feel like its my job for people to feel entertained by what I post on FB. Although I’m flattered that people have ‘lived vicariously’ through me, if they saw how happily boring my life has become, especially during the week (go to the gym, go to work, come home, put on sweats, watch Wheel of Fortune Jeopardy and re-runs on TV Land), I’m sure they’d think differently.
One of the things that drives me absolutely fucking crazy…I’m a passionate musician…there’s a big difference between this and being a show off or an attention whore.
During my online-free summer, I’ve been truly blessed to play with the Ryan Forrester Band. This is truly all about the music – I say this because it has been such a joy to play as a sideman, and be practically anonymous…it’s been refreshing to have people tell me that they enjoy the music we make because they can see the passion we have for the music, and the fun we have making the music.
So here are my “three views of this secret”:
1. Find pure joy in the things you truly love…when I sing and play music, nothing else matters.
2. The smaller the audience, the better….I’d rather play for five people who can appreciate my joy and passion for performing instead of a few hundred people who could give a rat’s ass.
3. Just keep swimming….one of the pure joys of being 50 – I’m not everyone’s cup of tea when I perform…for those whom I’m not, that’s OK; for those that genuinely support me, you have my genuine gratitude.
Why did I thank Jaco Pastorius at the beginning of this post? One of his best quotes was “It ain’t showing off if you can back it up.” To me, it goes one step further….”it’s not bragging, showing off, or craving attention…it’s about having fun doing what you love, and thats ALL THAT MATTERS.”
I decided to go to ‘the dark side’ (Facebook) to clean up my friends list, in the event that I ever decide to go back on a regular basis…while I was there, I figured, “What the heck – put the blog link out there!” so people know that I’m still here (somebody actually asked if I had died….go figure.) I’ve connected my blog so that it will post to FB, without me having to actually go on to FB (Hallelujah!)….so I welcome anyone and everyone to my personal nirvana….but please know this – no political comments/rants please….if I’m not writing about it, no need to start a discussion about it….save that for Zuckerberg’s page, not mine! – L Train 11/6/2019