Saturday, 9 August 2014

Embarrassment vs Shame….

I've not blogged here for a while - as you can see from the dates. But earlier I read a post on Facebook from Hollie Holden - Notes on Living and Loving ( Authenticity )  who writes utterly beautiful words. She said, "It's a Thing, expressing ourselves. Whether we have a blog or write books or give talks or just speak our truth and make a stand for love in the post office queue. It's a Thing." And it is a Thing, a thing that is touched with so much from our childhood, from our make up, from something often quite invisible. I grew up hearing, "What will people think?!" And I used to say, "I don't care!" But I did; deeply. Their fear-mongering seeped inside and bits of it still stick. We are meant to have dealt with things like this with our educated minds. Well, I don't know about you, but my mind hasn't cracked embarrassment for me! I stopped writing my blogs because every non-like, every non-comment, every 'ignored' post of the link on Facebook, pushed a great big red button in me. "No one likes it." And worse, "They actively loathe it!" Plus a dose of 'they are laughing at me'. And 'I must no longer subject them to something so awful'. Risking transparency here, that's what has been going on. 


All the pictures of embarrassment on-line have people hiding their faces - trying to Not Being Here… :-(

So, today, on Hollie's encouragement to re-start - thank you! - I took a moment to think about this…. I allowed a deep experience of the feelings that were coming up, because feelings live in the body where they are authentic, genuine, un-changed by the mind which wants to analyse and justify them as 'fine'. They are not fine, but they are real, and our body reveals them perfectly as the messengers and signposts we need to get to a clearer and free-er life.

I had never before sensed such a clear difference between shame and embarrassment. Similar, yes, but I found they were actually very different. Shame a bottomless ache. Embarrassment a sharp sting. There's a distinct possibility that I have a PhD in Shame; much work has been done on this deep, bone-marrow, 'I'm not ok enough to even be on the planet' stuff, and I'm happy to report that that particular certificate won't be going up on the wall. But embarrassment? What's that about? I didn't think I did that one! (Ha!)

I let myself re-meet embarrassment deep inside; those feelings long buried because they hurt too much. I let myself see how it affected me then and so affects me exactly the same way now. Embarrassment stops me writing, because embarrassment is about feeling silly. Stupid even... The feeling of curling up and making yourself as small as possible in the face of mockery, and certainly hiding your face. The burning sensation as the 'laughter at' hits you in the face. The jeering that hits you in the stomach, making the world seem to disappear outside your bubble of now muffled sounds. Or the unbearable tension of 'the noisy silence'.  Maybe shame is the one that recognises embarrassment, or even acts like a magnet, but today I realised it's embarrassment that is so difficult to push through when writing. 

I suddenly had the image of a duck - a lovely mallard with shiny, oily, grey and green feathers. These are right on his surface, the oil in them a thin layer that prevents water soaking into his feathers and drowning him. Useful for him, but the oil is my embarrassment - an invisible-but-powerful surface layer that prevents life getting in and me getting out… which stops me from doing so many things I want to do. Shame lies deep within us and hurts when touched - which it will never be if embarrassment protects us from anything getting in at the surface. Yet when shame is healed, embarrassment poses no threat… So let the healing continue!

Dare I dare feeling embarrassment in order to live? Dare I dare shame being stirred in order for more healing to take place? Dare I let the oily layer down and let life in? Dare I let you all in and write? Well, here I am - daring To Be Here instead of hiding. And that's really pretty good, whether you read this or not!

How does embarrassment touch you? How does it feel to you? What triggers it? How do you handle it? Do you know how amazing you are and how unnecessary it is? Let's be kind to ourselves and begin to release this restricting feeling, and let's do it together?