If you’re looking for a quick-fix for your shame, Soul Without Shame by Byron Brown is NOT it. Not that it’s a difficult read – it isn’t – but that it’s heavy work. In fact, even in paperback, it’s a heavy book! Literally!
Judgment is a way of describing part of the terrain of your inner world. [It] is the central element of your inner dialogue, the way you talk to yourself. From that point of view, it is second nature to you, so close to you that it is hard even to become aware of its existence. (Byron Brown pg 41)
Self-judgement came easy for me. Also, the judgment of others since in order to judge, there must be something to judge against. Mustn’t there?
And so, I lived my life with wary eyes, always on the lookout for… what?
The answer to the “what” is … well… what this book is all about.
It is about self-discovery… but not just that. It goes deeper, to a place of confrontation, which allows healing. No confrontation, no healing. Not of shame!
Shame has been a backdrop in my life. I’ve certainly talked about it in this space before!
(Oh, hi! Yeah, this is me, madly waving!)
Yep, shame and me, we got along just fine. Until we didn’t.
I am not here to tell you I no longer carry shame or that this book changed my life. In fact, this book was a recent gift from a friend (Hi Becki!) and will remain in my collection because it’s excellent. But it is only a part of the healing process from this monster. With entrenched shame, as I’ve had, healing from the effects of it is a journey. In fact, one might say (and I am that someone) it’s like a demon that needs an exorcism. And for that, one (again me, and you too?) needs time and patience. Shame didn’t just drop by for a visit. Nope! It set up shop.
I used to think that shame had a purpose. It’s taken me many, MANY years to realize that there is a difference between feeling shame for a decision and feeling shame because I’m me. This is part of what Baker terms, “Shifting guises”. It hurt to read this following paragraph (page 301) because… I’ve felt it all:
It hurts my soul to read that because… I’ve ***very much*** been there. Where is there? ALL of it. Every last moment.
I am better than I used to be but nowhere near where I want to be. Any trigger can set me off, especially about my parenting… and yes, even though my children are adults.
See, I moved to Canada when my daughters were 18 and 19 and my son was 16. The girls had plans and my son was in special schooling with accommodations that I’d worked very hard (for years) to be provided to him through the school district. Also, being a young man, it was not unusual that he stay with his father. His sisters would be close by, for added support. Leaving felt horrible, yet inevitable. They assured me they would be okay. It wasn’t a disappearance. We planned for eight months. We went to counseling together. We did everything right, as far as that goes.
After I moved, I called every day and visited as often as I could. I’ve shared this all before. It is certainly nothing new.
Through the years, I beat myself up handily. When a therapist said, “Your daughters were adults. Your son had to stay to finish high school. He was with his father, not some hobo on the corner!,” I laughed uncomfortably. She had a point.
But the moment someone said, “Isn’t it hard with your kids there and you here?” or “I could never do that,” or “How do you live with yourself?” or… or… or…
Even when some said – and actually, there were many – that I was brave, I’d think, “Hey now, what’s this?”
I have come to believe that there is no shame like Mother-shame. And not only is it still alive and well, but it also peeks out at the most inopportune times.
Surely, I am not the only one carrying this kind of baggage! Even if we had a great “mom” example, few of us think we did it well. And if you’re tempted to lean that way, don’t worry, your kids will tell you a thing or two and bring bring you back to “reality”. Like the time my daughter wailed, “You didn’t teach me how to sew!” How does one answer that when one is not a seamstress? I can barely sew a button on a shirt, let alone a project. Just ask my husband! Shortly after we married, the quilt on our bed tore and he asked me if I could fix it, to which I answered, “Of course,” for reasons I still don’t understand. Let’s just say there was lots of thread used and the tear was “fixed” and the quilt tossed within a month or so. I tried, honest to God! But I digress.
Shame is a vast landscape, as Baker notes and I carried it long before I was a mother. I’ve had other experiences for which I felt ashamed… some were even my fault, or at least, my responsibility.
However, shame does little except to make you feel bad about yourself. Enough of that! Am I right?
I would be remiss not to mention one of the biggest causes of shame — religion. A chat about that would require a whole ‘nuther post! Suffice it to say that too many ministers are quick to utilize shame as a tool to keep their parishioners in line. Sheryl don’t play that! It actually makes her very, very angry. Yikes, digressed again – and in third person!
If you want to be liberated from shame once and for all, this book is one of the good ones. But get ready, you’re gonna work for it. Worth it, I think!
*Originally written my me for this blog on June 1, 2019