Like most of us here, somewhere under the surface of my glossy smile, there has run a slimy layer of shame. How did it get there? I didn’t put it there! I was be born and shoved into the world with this thing that some folks have gleefully labeled as wrong, sick, bad, perverted and the list goes on…
As a prissy little boy growing up in a very military 1960’s family, the idea of expressing this pretty factor was absolutely forbidden. Oh, it was there, and I knew it, but don’t let it show whatever you do!
I remember coming home one day from school, after seeing a few of my guy friends, of which there were very few in truth. I hung out with the girls much more than the guys, who were starting to wear a single stud earring in their left ears. My dad said, “No son of mine will wear a GD earring; not while he’s under my roof he won’t!” I’d felt the sting of his military belt, so I knew he meant business.
This thin, slimy layer of shame began as a spec, but then spread like a fungus in the shadows of my mind. It fed on the comments I would hear daily, such as, “he probably squats to pee” or “look there goes one of them limp-wristed queers;” and ” I’m glad you’re not like that son.” But I knew I was. I worked hard at not being prissy. I made sure I crossed my legs in a manly way and did my best to never let my pinky finger stick out, although now and then it would, and it never went unnoticed by some members of my tribe.
Along with this slimy layer of shame growing under my skin, there began a second layer of gooey stuff; guilt. Guilt? Yep, because deep down I knew that every day I was lying to everyone around me. I would wear my mask and smile through the hurtful comments that ripped my soul like the jagged edge of a badly opened soup can. I knew I was a pretender, a fraud, and a faker. I was acting how they wanted me to act instead of being true to my own nature, and it was killing me.
There is a difference between guilt and shame—a big difference. Guilt is; I have made a mistake. I have done something that according to the rules of that time was considered wrong. Remember, rules change to reflect the now. When I’ve made mistakes, I can go back, apologize, and make it right in most cases. This relieves me of the feelings of guilt. Guilt is I have made a mistake, and I can fix it, but shame?
Shame is; I AM the mistake. I am somehow flawed and defective. I am the mistake and there is no way to fix that. Or is there?
Over the course of this incredible journey, this play we call life, I have discovered some truths, which have changed a few of the beliefs I was programmed to adhere to—beliefs such as I am flawed and defective.
First, I began scraping off the guilt layer by simply telling the truth about me. I am a prissy, cute person. I can choose to dress in cameo gear and cut my hair to fit in with the other sheep or I can “Be” who I choose to “Be”.
Okay, guilt gone, I no longer am living a lie to fit in; dishonoring my own true nature to please other’s expectations. Whew, that took a few years to scrape off, that stuff’s thick!
Now the shame.
The shame has taken more time to remove, and yet, it has come off much easier than I expected—seems like slime scrapes off easier than gooey stuff after all.
How do we get rid of the shame? Well, the key to learning anything is through repetition. You know what company uses the big yellow letter “M” as their logo simply because you have seen it thousands of times. The same is true for the shame-based beliefs we have about ourselves.
I began looking into my own eyes in the mirror. Every day, even to this day, I spend just a few minutes to look into my own eyes and give my mind a new message. All of those messages of being wrong, sick, bad, etc were not my fault, but they are my responsibility. I, at some level, way back then, accepted those messages as truth, but they are not true and never have been. I can change them right here, right now!
The messages I now feed my mind every day are: I am perfectly okay just as I am or I love you for being exactly who you are! Like the blue rose in the tulip patch, no big fuss, no screaming and ranting, no force needed, just a presence in the garden.
This week, remind yourself to choose you by taking just a couple of minutes, a few times each day, to look into any mirror or reflective surface you walk by. Say something nice to you, “I love you just as you are (insert the name you choose here,)” and then smile big knowing that THAT is the truth. No more guilt, no more shame, just the beginnings of a self-love that will continue to grow magically, as long as you continue to do this simple thing every day, on your own behalf. If we want others to accept and love us, we must first practice doing that for ourselves.
Ping, in time, the reset button clicks, and the new message of self acceptance takes hold in your mind and over time, it chokes out the green slime of shame and replaces it with something magical and as beautiful as you truly are.
Thank you for reading my beautiful friends, and thank you for being exactly—who you are!