“For Everything Grows from Self-Blessing”

May 16, 2017

 

 

I was talking to a friend the other day, about shame, and how it can poison your life. How it can keep you small, and diminished, leave you feeling less-than and un-worthy. My friend seemed bemused and unable to grasp what I was talking about. in fact, he was looking at me as if I were crazy…

 

And then I remembered the day I discovered my own relationship with shame. I was sitting in a circle when a guy I knew pointed out that there was a distinction between shame and guilt. “Guilt”, he said, “is about what you do. You can feel bad about what you have done… But shame is something else. Shame has you feeling bad about who you are…

 

It was one of the half dozen most significant ‘light-bulb moments’ of my entire life. Suddenly, I understood that it was shame that lay at the core of my life’s difficulties, and that it was shame that had been making me feel so un-worthy for so long. As the day wore on, I began to see that I was so far into my shame that I couldn’t even see that I was in it. Like a fish swimming around in water, I didn’t realize that shame as the medium in which I lived out my entire day-to-day existence…

 

As I listened I learned that shame was toxic, that it was a poison that ran through my life and that it was a family inheritance. I also realised that, like any family inheritance, I could pass it on – that I had shamed others, hurt and belittled them – rather than feel the unbearable yucky-ness of my own excruciating discomfort.

 

I was lucky, I started to spend more and more time with men, at a time when these issues were being opened-up - in recovery circles, therapy rooms, and especially in men’s groups and gatherings. With them, I uncovered the extent of my deep, abiding shame, and got to work on it. Over time I broke through the miasma that surrounded me and found ways to combat my shame as it arose, and to resist those who unwittingly shamed me.

 

Most importantly, I learned that shame cannot be shamed. That the only way to combat evil is to make resolute progress in the good. I also learned that there are angels out there who can help you to heal; who can tell you that you are worthy, or beautiful, or intelligent, or whatever it is that you need to hear.

 

Over the years, I was lucky enough to be blessed many times over, by teachers and mentors, by friends and loved ones. Gradually, I learned to bless myself, to look in the mirror and see good, not unworthiness. For, as the great poet Galway Kinnell says, “Everything grows from self-blessing.”

 

May it happen for you. 

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