I admired Brené Brown the first time I saw her Ted Talk. When I found out she had a Netflix Special The Call to Courage, I watched it immediately. I love her message about vulnerability and wholehearted living. I am currently reading her book Daring Greatly, where she dives more into the topic of shame. As I am reading I can think of so many examples of things I can relate to she she dives deeper into shame and how it affects us.
Being surrounded by many strong women in my life has helped give me a lot of insight into the type of person I want to be. It is easy to focus on the positive aspects of these strong women, like all of the personal and professional success they have in their lives. It is natural to see someone else’s success and think they must have done things just right to get where they are. It came naturally to them. No wrong turns taken. No failures. Just a straight and perfect path.
As I’ve grown closer with these women, though, I am finding these initial assumptions are not true. Instead these strong women, like all of us, have many areas that some may consider imperfection. Some divorced, like myself. Some have been in abusive relationships. Some women have struggled with fertility issues. So many struggles. And many of us internalize these things because they somehow make us less than this perfect person we are supposed to try to be. These things cause so many people to feel so much shame. Now, I think most, if not all of us live with some sort of shame.
I have shared my struggles on this blog very openly. Months before creating this blog, I felt so much shame. I was hiding from my truth and didn’t want anyone to know what I was going through. Between my divorce to my struggles managing everything as a single mother to learning to love again, I felt like I was doing everything wrong. The shame I felt was eating me alive. Starting this blog helped me share my story publicly so that I could move beyond my shame. Because of the outpouring of love and support I received when I started this blog, I have seen that in my own darkest moment, by opening up I am allowing love to fill the emptiness I was feeling inside me. The love of friends and family and acquaintances taught me that it was perfectly human to struggle.
So much of the process for me was learning that I would never be perfect, and that it was OK. I wasn’t born to have a “normal” life. I wasn’t meant to be perfect. Instead, I am meant to experience my own journey in this life. A journey where I get to connect with so many people on so many levels, but a journey that only I travel.
My journey has included great shame, loss, victories, and joys. I definitely felt shame when I failed my exam in November, but knew that by sharing my truth with people, I could move past that shame to keep trying. I was able to quickly turn the shame thinking around with the help of my children. When I retook the exam and passed in March, I was over the moon with joy.
I feel this way about my art, too. I am not an artist. When I started it felt silly. I have no idea what I am doing. I am not good. I don’t think my artwork will be in a museum. But I have grown to LOVE the process of painting. Creating something from my soul has this way of bringing more joy into my life. I am not creating anything to be perfect. I am creating art to harness the joy that it brings my soul. The joy of painting my emotions. Occasionally my children or my partner will also appreciate my paintings and will ask if they could have them and it gives me more joy that I have a physical manifestation of my emotions that I am able to share with them.
Sometimes our shame stops us from experiencing joy. I have made a decision to choose joy. Whenever life throws shame at me, I will shine a light on it. This light allows me to continue to choose joy.