"Shame Can't Survive Empathy" Brene Brown

 Photo: Ken Wylie

Photo: Ken Wylie

Shame. A painful feeling of humiliation. Hot. Searing. Isolating. Shame hits like a wave when we become conscious of our failing act. It surrounds and engulfs us leaving the idea that irreparable damage to our lives has occurred.

I know shame professionally. Missing simple processes and being corrected by colleagues. Or making monumental errors and reacting by hiding, crawling through the back window and running down the alley of indignity. Unwilling and unable to find words in the maelstrom of humiliation, grief and mortification. A prisoner trying to escape the reality of the situation. A fugitive for years, skulking through life, scrambling from one form of cover to the next. 

I know shame in my relationships. Two marriages, divorced twice and those are the ones on record. Seeking comfort from another before learning to self soothe. Being called hedonistic and knowing it is true, but also understanding that it so, so much bigger.  The isolation that comes from the daggers of judgement by self and others. The fear of celebrating a new relationship. A fugitive, skulking through life scrambling from one form of cover to the next.

There is a cure for shame. Stepping into it. Putting it in the heart of acceptance to change it. Loving myself and letting people have their yard sticks if they like. Loving myself for being in the game, exposed to life and making the most of events by grappling for threads of learning and turning it all into experience. Knowing what things are really like on the battlefield of work and relationships and seeing that in the end I have chosen not to run from the battle inside myself. Becoming conscious and improving who I am despite profound and utter failure or perhaps because of it. Knowing that I have done my very best to live and then bravely face my humanity.

I subscribe to Julie North's idea that we choose our challenges in this life before we live them like they are a course to be learned from.  "Mid life poverty 101. Self loathing 405. Shame 201."  I know that one of the experiences I chose was to know and overcome shame through compassion for myself. Master shame or become a slave to it is my mantra. Master shame by bringing events in to be loved. 

Ken Wylie

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