Glee, Cyndi Lauper, Tears & Why

I found my Glee soundtrack CDs again and had my own little mini concert this morning that took me down memory lane. Just as I was really getting into Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors something clicked and I started to cry, which is really fucking annoying when you’re trying to win a Grammy for best new Karaoke Artist before work.

This whole ‘learn to be vulnerable’ and ‘feel shit’ is cramping my IDGAF attitude. Why did I start therapy again? For a long while, I was able to control my emotions and only show anger or happiness with the notion it would be a cold day in hell before I’d let anyone see me cry.

Well, it’s winter and I’m crying to True Colors at 8 a.m. and now blogging about it for the 1,000 of you to read about. So this must be Hell.

Instead of ignoring the tears, telling myself to suck it the fack up, and beating myself up for getting emotional… I did what Daring Greatly, Braving The Wilderness, and Girl Wash Your Face asks you to ask yourself: why am I getting emotional. Can you identify the why?

So while I continued to belt out the lyrics, and cry, I tried to string together what was running through my head and how it could be related to my now puffy eyes and running nose. And realized I was thinking about my upcoming trip to Florida and how it was going to be strange to possibly see people that know me, who have a history with me and have seen some of my worst days, and how familiar it would all feel.

And how uncomfortable that familiarity felt.

My thoughts also wandered to a family that welcomed me as their own. We had Wednesday night dinners and a no cell phone rule during dinners. They took me in as one of their own and I started to imagine what it would be like to see them all again.

It made me happy and warm to imagine walking into her home again…cue tears.

I chewed on the uncomfortableness with familiarity and why happy and warm would make me weepy…and came to the conclusion this is one of the parts of me I killed off a long time ago in order to protect myself from getting emotionally hurt. Let’s break it down.

Uncomfortableness with familiarity: it’s no secret I spent a lot of time saying goodbye because of the excessive moving from state to state, deployments, and then regular goodbyes of life regarding friendships, and family relationships. I coped and overcompensated by learning to never get attached to one place, person or thing.

Happy and warm: something inside of me enjoyed the idea that I’d be around people who knew me and have known me for a while. It’s been such a long time since I’ve been around familiar faces and places. Florida and this home are nostalgic.

Conclusion: Never getting attached to a place, person or thing made it easier to leave (because undoubtfully I’d be leaving again so why get dependant on a relationship or home that I know won’t last?) with the least amount of emotional turmoil. It let me feel independent from those emotions. Does that make sense?

I got weepy because I let myself feel it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Skin Feels Too Heavy To Carry

Have you ever felt so depleted of energy that even your skin feels too heavy to carry? Thank Zeus it’s Friday. I need the next two days to get my shit together even though I feel like even if I had two weeks time, it still wouldn’t be enough because I’m so damn far behind.

Most of my anxiety has come from two silent weeks of no prospects in interviews for my (wannabe) podcast with a looming September deadline. I’m starting to feel failure set in even though there is ample time to problem solve and the anticipation of failure is enough to drown me and wash the entire dream dry.

 

What about these books I keep claiming to have in the chamber? I thought of another good idea for a book this morning while driving to work, listening to another audiobook (Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay), so if you’ve lost count that’s a potential three books I’m probably not going to write.

Each time I start to imagine writing said books my brain freaks out. How do I even submit a book? I don’t want to get an agent, but hardly any publishing companies accept unsolicited work. What’s best practice, how do you start, what’s MY writing process? I spin and spin until the only way to end it is to ignore.

The next phase is usually obsessing over everything I’m not doing, could be doing better, and/or simmering over shit I can’t change, which turns into wondering what the fuck I’ll be doing in twenty years and if I’ve accomplished anything I set out to do when I first began to dream.

I’m spirling.

It goes on for a couple days and then I snap my ass back into reality and get shit done. Usually, I chalk up this series of berating and self-loathing to my nasty shame gremlins being hard at work but I think I’ve figured out the trigger.

Whenever I have a good hard week or two, etc. of productivity where I exert all of my creative energy both physically and mentally to finish a project on time and successfully knock it out of the park, it leads to me feeling empty. Idle hands as they say…

This emptiness makes me nervous. Will this project (or whatever it is) be the last best thing I do? Was that it, my last spark? How am I going to best myself once more? Tick, tick, tick, tick. Worry, worry, worry.

Not to mention, people drain me. The everyday interaction required to be social is one more activity to add to my anxiety. We all play a role at home, at work, and with friends. It always feels fine when the interaction is in play, but when I come home I’ll think back on my day and stress out over what I should’ve said or done.

Add that to a long yet productive week and it leaves me feeling like my skin is too heavy to carry; spirling.

A blue fish in a Disney Pixar movie once mentioned the idea, just keep swimming. Some days I think living by this phrase is easier when your memory is has a reset button every 60-seconds, and other days I remind myself success isn’t about the destination, it’s about enjoying the wild ride to the top.

In order to get to the next crazy hump, one must keep swimming. 

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling gratitude for every breath I take. What are you feeling gratitude towards? Let me know in the comment section, below. Night friends. 

Cultivate it.I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my quest for true belonging. 

What Are Ten Wonderful Things About You? Gratitude Wants To Know.

Happy Monday fraands, hope everyone’s weekend was good, decent, and uneventful in the best way. This moring’s blog is going to be quick because I forgot to write it last night and I’ve got twenty minutes before I really need to get ready for work. This might be my best blog yet because I won’t (can’t) allow myself to overthink each sentence and thought.

It isn’t always easy to remember our strengths or the good things about ourselves. Personally, I find it a helluva lot easier to call out my negatives than praise myself when this question is asked: What do you love about yourself?

When asked my hands usually go dry, heart palpitations increase and my brain literally freezes. The world goes in slow motion and I begin to stutter. My mind repeating one phrase, “what do I like about myself? What do I like about myself? What do I like about myself?”

Nothing ever comes to mind.

But this morning my gratitude journal asked me to name 10 wonderful things about myself and something about using the word wonderful helped me consider what I do think is wonderful about myself.

The word love is confusing for me so it throws off my way of understanding the question. So for the first time ever, I tried to consider 10 whole things I thought was wonderful about myself.

We each have personality traits that are really awesome, so I challenge you to answer the same question. I’ll share mine but I double-dog dare you to share your own answers in the comments.

Let’s do this together!

Ten wonderful things about me:

  1. My laugh is loudly sincere and wholeheartedly expressive of the joy I’m feeling in the moment.
  2. I’m a seeker of knowledge. I want to truly understand the why, meaning and perspective of any and all given situations, a.k.a staying curious.
  3. My want to be the change I wish to see in the world, nothing excites me more than giving back and helping make this world a better place.
  4. I love to cook and trying new recipes. A gift passed down to me from my Pops.
  5. Despite being armored up on the outside, any kind of unnecessary suffering truly bothers me.
  6. I am brave.
  7. I’m creative.
  8. Book smart and street smart.
  9. Incredibly strong, especially in the face of adversity.
  10. Fearlessly authentic.

This did me more good than I thought it would. It felt ridiculous and absurd when I spent (what I felt) too much time contemplating my wonderful parts, and then physically having to write them down.

There’s something solidifying to writing them down. I actually believe what I wrote, so I encourage you to write yours down and share them with me in the comments. This might be the best way to start off your Monday.

Don’t worry, it’ll feel silly at first, but I promise you it’s more rewarding than not.

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling gratitude for my spin class tonight. It’s going to kick my ass back into taking care of myself. 

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my quest for true belonging. 

The Difference Between True Belonging & Fitting In

School was out for the next couple days because a snowstorm blew through upstate New York and I was excited to have the day off to play in the snow. After getting bundled up and prepared to be in the frigid temperatures until exhausted from fun, I went outside to find my two siblings to play.

After searching the front and backyard, checking the neighbor’s yard and woods behind both our houses, I found them hiding behind a snowbank across the street. They were making snowballs and giggling.

When I went to jump into the ditch with them, they both scowled before letting me know I wasn’t invited. “Go away, you’ll tell on us. You’re no fun.”

“You’re no fun,” was a phrase I was familiar with, both my parents used it to fling it at me when I didn’t laugh at their jokes or understand what they thought was so funny. My siblings and parents shared this and no matter how hard I tried to fit in with the jokes and fun, it never worked.

I tried to be fun for years and then succumbed to believing I wasn’t fun and lived out their truth.

After reading through the first half of Braving The Wilderness by Brene Brown I finally felt like someone understood how I felt when it came to family.

She speaks about the moment she didn’t feel like she belonged in her family and how it affected her until she was in her mid-forties.

“Even in the context of suffering–poverty, violence, human rights violations–not belonging in our families is still one of the most dangerous hurts. That’s because it has the power to break our heart, our spirit, and our sense of self-worth. It broke all three for me”

– Braving The Wilderness, page 14

And when our heart, spirit, and sense of self-worth breaks, there are only three outcomes according to Brown’s research data…

  1. You live in constant pain and seek relief by numbing it/and or inflicting it on others;
  2. You deny your pain, and your denial ensures that you pass it on to those around you and down to your children; or
  3. You find the courage to own the pain and develop a level of empath and compassion for yourself and others that allow you to spot hurt in the world in a unique way.

The pain I feel is deep, so deep I don’t even know where the roots are to rip them out of my being. While I’m no expert, I will honestly tell you I’m extremely good at doing numbers one and two.

For years I tried to fit-in and for years got rejected, but I continually knocked on that door hoping it’d open and the outcome would change (not just with family).

Constantly setting myself up for disappointment made me the expert at numbers one and two. Anger has been my shield for MANY years and honestly, I’m still fucking angry.

I’m afraid of losing my anger armor. If I don’t have anger protecting me, then who am I and what will happen to me if I leave myself vulnerable and open to other emotions?

In Braving The Wilderness, Brene defines the difference between fitting-in and true belonging which sounds simple because on face value who doesn’t know the difference between fitting in and belonging? It’s in the word.

Her clarification between the two words was the flashlight I needed to start navigating my way out of the cave.

“Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in an by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitues for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

She goes on to add true belonging also includes having the courage to stand alone when it’s needed, and feel comfortable with that decision. i.e. standing up for what you believe in wholeheartedly, even when you’re surrounded by different opinions.

I’ve been trying to fit into family and friend relationships for my entire life, basing my worth off what they’d give me in return. You get told throughout life that ‘family is everything’ and ‘all you have is your family,’ so it’s a confusing message when you don’t feel like you’ve ever belonged which makes it even more difficult to stop knocking at the door.

This new understanding of true belonging has lifted a burden off my shoulders I didn’t know was there. True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are, therefore freeing me of the responsibility to feel like I need to fit in.

“You are only free when you realize you belong no place–you belong every place–no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.” — Maya Angelou

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling gratitude for the relationships I have at my office. 

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my quest for true belonging. 

What Do You Want & What Do You Need

Have you ever asked yourself what do you want people to know about you and what do you need from them? I’ve never asked myself outright but my friend Brené Brown asked me in Chapter Six: Disruptive Engagement. So here we go, friends…

Q: What do you want people to know about you? 

A1: I want people to know that respect is extremely important to me and that I firmly believe its something earned and not given. And because it’s so important to me, I strive to show the same respect I’m given. Respect is a two-way street, like I said, it’s earned not given.

To answer Aretha Franklin’s burning “R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me” question, to me respect means you care enough about me that you’re not going to disrespect my boundaries after I took the time to voice them to you.

Respect means a lot to me personally and professionally. If I don’t respect you it’s incredibly difficult to deal with or connecting with you.

It’s also why I give Momma’s out there a shit ton of credit because I don’t know how you all do it with as much ‘free advice’ that’s given or blatant disregard for your wishes when it comes to your kid(s). My least favorite statement from folks is, “ya know what you should be doing” or “what you ‘outta do is..”

It’s not that I think I know everything or that I can’t learn from my elders, but ninety percent of the time it’s coming from someone who is speaking to me as if I’m the child and they’re the parents, which leads me to my next point…

A2: Do not speak to me like I am less than or as if I’m a child. My second least favorite activity is when people try to speak to me like a child because let me tell you, I haven’t been a child for a long time and I could probably argue I never got to be a child.

The person who has been taking care of me the longest is myself. I’ve had a lot of life for the short amount of time I’ve been around, so show me some respect and speak to me as an equal, not a youngin’ who doesn’t know her ass from her anus.

I’m smart, strong, and enough.

Q: What do you need from people?

A1: I need to be heard. There is nothing more frustrating to me than not being heard, and I mean actually heard. Not what you think I meant, what you were saying to yourself while I was talking, or what you think is better for me.

When I take the time out to communicate, I need you to actually listen and understand my perspective.

“When people talk, completley listen.” — Ernest Hemingway

Here’s a handy-dandy listening flowchart if you’re confused what I mean by listening wholeheartedly. Thanks, Hubspot! 

good-listener-infographic.png

So how’d ya do on the flowchart?

If I am heard, then I feel respected.

Now, ask yourself (and possibly leave it in the comment section below. Sharing is caring!), what do you want people to know about you and what do you need from those people?

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling grateful for the time I had with my Husband this weekend. We saw A Quiet Place on Friday, Saturday he took me out for Date Night and Sunday we did a few air museum tours and cuddled on the couch. What are you grateful for today?

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my personal journey about understanding myself more with the hopes it’ll help someone else in the twenty-something/pushing thirty struggles.

Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

There’s a little something-something I want to get off my chest, something I want to say, not need to say.

I have been pretty open to those who’ve asked and in my writing with you all, about taking the time to understand myself, love myself and care for myself. This process has involved a few self-help books (Heyyyyy Brene Brown, I LOVEEEE you) and a couple therapy sessions and an acceptance I can’t do this thing overnight.

It has to take time and patience to dive into the pain, mourn, and then accept what is. What I’m saying is, this is going to be a forever process and I’m in it for the long haul.

Some of my sharing shines a light on some insecurities I have regarding me as a person and my family upbringing. So I want to say this: don’t get it twisted, no matter how confusing or frustrating I am with past circumstances, it will never change the way I feel about my family.

I love them. Nobody can replace my Mom or Dad, ever. And I would still kill for my brother and sister, even though we’ve hardly seen each other over the last five/six years. Yes, some shit got fucked up. But I’m not going to carry it with me for the rest of my life.

Everyone has baggage they’re trying to unload. Sometimes the washer is full and it has to wait, sometimes the luggage is locked and you can’t find the key, and other times you can acknowledge it needs to be unpacked, but that it’s just not going to happen for some time.

We all have problems. Mine are mine. Yours are yours. No problem is greater than another. My Mom did the best she could, so did my Dad, so is my brother and sister, and so am I. The most rewarding part of this entire process for me has been accepting who I am and embracing me.

Denying myself made me an angry person. Wishing relationships were a certain type of way does nothing but set me up for heartache. It’s crazy you operate a certain way for 25-plus years and then one year happens and fucks it all up.

And that’s where I’m at in this very moment with all of you. This year threw everything I thought I knew out the window, and this blogging practice is me trying to figure out what the hell it all means.

Life is crazy man, and we’re all trying to figure out how to keep our arms and legs inside the rollercoaster so they don’t get chopped off. Don’t judge my story (or the people in my story) based on the chapter you walked in on.

There’s my peace. I won’t repeat it again. I love my family, nobody is going to replace them and it doesn’t matter how far away I am, they’re mine until the end of time.

Happy Friday!

(I forgot about this the past two times -_- I’m awful) Currently grateful for the maple glazed donut One protein bar giving me life this Friday morning. What are you grateful for? Tell me in the comments.

Cultivate it.

 

Momma Always Said You Gotta Worry About Yourself

I’ve had a couple days to re-read and chew on my post on Monday and I think the post might have been a bit confusing unless you were inside my head reading through my own eyeballs.

My Self-Doubt Death Eater Unveiled” didn’t clearly connect the dots between what I was feeling to the conclusion/lesson I wanted to convey, which for the record sounds like a great euphemism for life; sometimes the dots don’t connect and life ends up looking like a big blob of mush no matter how hard you concentrate.

What I am certain about is it needed to be written out so I could begin to understand all parts of what drove me nuts about this interaction that left a nasty taste in my mouth. Monday’s confusing blog helped me realize I tie my self-worth up in what others say project on me.

But duh, I am enough. I know my worth. I know who I am and I’m not going to let others sway the eternal strength I know I possess because throughout the past two decades I’ve proved it to myself. Basically, trust yourself. I encourage you to practice the same self-love and reassurance.

Monday’s blog didn’t connect the dots because I couldn’t see the other part of the equation. Writing My Self-Doubt Death Eater Unveiled helped me realize the phrase, “I’m rubber and you are glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” To understand the other half of the equation I had to backtrack to the moment before I engaged in the conversation that started this all.

When I confronted I expected comfort because it had been offered up once before, but deep down I knew it wasn’t going to end well, had I practiced the art of ‘pausing’ before engaging, this may have never happened.

So what’s the problem?

I expected a certain reaction and when it didn’t go the way I had hoped, it bummed me out. If I would’ve taken a second to fully gage my emotions, manage my expectations, and fully understand the situation before diving in head first, I could’ve saved myself some hurt and pain.

This was the other part of the equation I couldn’t solve and lead me to this realization about myself.  My expectations and standards are high when it comes to relationships (all types), and because of this, It affects my ability to connect as well as accept people for who they are and/or what they bring to the table.

Don’t get me wrong, having high standards isn’t a terrible trait to possess, it’s great to have when striving for personal and professional goals because it usually means you’ll do greater than the bar you set for yourself.

Having high standards/expectations does make it extremely hard to reach the bar you’ve set for yourself because you keep moving it so that it’s never quite reachable. You’re constantly striving for a better you, which makes me (possibly you) never feel enough. 

This means I also expect others to hold themselves to the same bar because it’s fair, but  it’s not plausible to hold everyone to my bar (even though it makes it safer and less likely to let anyone in which is comfortable for me) because everyone has their own set of rules they live by according to what makes sense to them.

So why not be aware of that person’s ability and accept only what they can offer instead of what they aren’t offering.

Make sense? Or is this post as confusing as my last one?

I get stuck on fairness. I grew up with the strong notion of Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. So if I treat you the way I want to be treated, please follow suit. It may sound or feel harsh but it’s safe.

Apparently, the other phrase my Mom would preach, “worry about yourself,” still rings true, especially in this situation. I can’t expect people to act the way I would act in any or all situations, nor can I hold them to my expectation in regards to our relationship.

The best I can do is reaffirm boundaries in my relationships, remind myself I am enough, and continue down this path of wellness and understanding. No matter how hippy-dippy it sounds, I don’t care. The only person outside of me who’s opinion matters to me is my husband.

Oh yeah, and take a pause before reacting or initiating potential conflict. Ask myself what do I expect out of this conversation, is it realistic given the person I’m speaking with, am I open to what they might say or am I expecting them to give me what I need.

Three cheers to practicing the art of pause. 

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my personal journey about understanding myself more with the hopes it’ll help someone else in the twenty-something/pushing thirty struggles.

Starved for Joy and Hungry for Gratitude

If you starve yourself of joy, the best way to combat this tendency is to practice gratitude. Here’s what I learned in chapter 4: The Vulnerability Armor of Daring Greatly.

In a culture of deep scarcity–of never feeling safe, certain, and sure enough–joy can feel like a setup. Everyone in the family is healthy. No major crises are happening. The house is still standing. i’m working out and feeling good, Oh, shit. This is bad, disaster is right around the corner. 

Hold the phone. Other people do this, too? You mean my secret (subconscious?) way of dealing with the too good vibes isn’t an original plan? You’re telling me this is one of the three ways people evade vulnerability and I fit into one of those damn boxes!?

To be honest, I don’t know if I’m more annoyed that a STRANGER is calling my shit out or that I’m becoming an annoying Brene Brown Superfan. Ooh! Or that I’m not as original or skilled at dodging emotions as I thought an hour ago.

So here are the three types of ways people shield vulnerability.

  1. Foreboding Joy – never allowing yourself to feel joyful because you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.
  2. Perfectionism – the belief that if you look and act perfectly it will help you avoid pain and /or shame.
  3. Numbing – dulling our emotions, personal feelings, and being a busy-holic to avoid what’s at the root of your own personal problems.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who has figured out how to shield vulnerability by foreboding joy.  Except I didn’t know that’s what I was doing until page 119 in Daring Greatly. #smdh

Do you do this, too? The second you feel too happy, too joyful, or too good, you immediately stop, drop, and let your imagination run to all the worst possible scenarios that could jeopardize the joy your feeling moments before your head takes over?

You can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand in solidarity (actually I’m raising both damn hands) because I’m so suspect of good vibes I believe I’m actually un-jinxing it by worrying about all the potential bad.

Never do I ever want to be unprepared for ‘what’s the worst that could happen?” Hands down my number one fear. Well, it’s tied for first apparently. Vulnerability is trying to take the trophy.

What makes you feel vulnerable? Give yourself a second to think about it…then scroll to hear mine.

ramblin randol blog image

Photo by Sven Scheuermeier

Love makes me feel vulnerable. I don’t want to love anyone or anyone to love me, that way if something bad happens (divorce, death) it’s easier to recover.

Being pregnant. You’re not out running danger or anyone trying to harm you while 8-months preggers. And it’s quite obvious you’re vulnerable, no hiding it.

Too many good occurrences happening all at once or systematically. Shit like that doesn’t happen to me, the shoe always drops so don’t enjoy it for too long because when it does hit the fan, it’ll be harder to recover.

I used to think the best way to go through life was to expect the worst. That way, if it happened, you were prepared, and if it didn’t happen, you were pleasantly surprised. Then I was in a car accident and my wife was killed. Needless to say, ecpecting the worst didn’t repare me at all. And worse, I still grieve for all those wonderful moments we shared, that I didn’t fully enjoy.

– A man in his early sixties, Daring Greatly pg. 120

I don’t want to starve myself of joy and according to my boo Brown, the best way to turn the tables on foreboding joy is by practicing gratitude.

When I first read the bolded title, I snorted. Like, I am grateful. I don’t live on the streets, in a third-world country or in Russia, so how the hell else am I’m going to be grateful?

Nope, missed the point.

This is how I interpreted it: Yes, there are others in worse situations than you, but you are ENOUGH and deserve to feel gratitude for your own life. She recommends keeping a gratitude journal and making an entry once a day. This way you practice appreciating all of life’s big and small moments.

There are only two days in my entire life that I can whole-heartily say nothing could touch me because I was on cloud nine and truly enjoying the joy. Those two days were my wedding day and when I graduated college.

I don’t want to die and only be able to actually feel only two days of joy out of my entire life. So as ridiculous as it sounds to me, I’m going to start a gratitude journal (better than a food journal, right?) and acknowledge gratitude at the end of each blog.

Keep me accountable 😉

Currently feeling grateful for: the hot tub at my apartment. 
It's the only place the Hubs and I can communicate effectively 
with no distractions.

What are you grateful for today?

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online. 

Shame. What Is It Good For? Absolutely​ Nothing.

Do you have shame? Apparently, we all do according to Brene Brown. Here’s what I learned after reading Brown’s chapter about shame and how to combat those nasty gremlins talkin’ nonsense inside your head. Sharing in case it helps one of you, too. 

neonbrand-432959-unsplash

Do I have shame? “Well, I don’t know,” was my first thought after reading the question. On the surface level, I’m not ashamed of who I am, how I got here or where I want to go. There’s a chip on my shoulder I’m a bit proud of and have a deep inner strength that propels me to keep pushing forward–no matter what. All characteristics I’m proud to own.

Shannon in a nutshell; moved out at a young age and paid all her own bills without EVER having to ask for help, got herself through college and graduated with a Bachelor’s despite having to take a year and a half off to deal with the joys of being a Navy wife. It took longer than everyone else, but I paid my way through junior college and figured out how to manage University with loans, internships and a solid year with no day off to get me in the position I am now.

Point blank, nobody thought I could do it and nobody paid my damn rent or filled my refrigerator with groceries, or gave me daily pep talks to counter-act all the other shit that life was flinging at me in those years.

I did it, and then me and my man did it, together. And I’m proud of those years, proud to say we did it alone. The flame that burned deep in the pit of my gut kept me pushing, climbing and propelling myself to the finish line, is what I’m truly proud of about myself because not everyone gets the guts and glory.

But wait, one simple question breaks all that internal strength and leaves me fumbling for words. So, where’s your family? Boom. Instant shame. Well, instant shame mixed with anger, let me explain.

When people find out I’m not from around here (or wherever I’m living at the time) they immediately want to know how I got to the patch of grass we’re now sharing, which is great because I’ve gotten extremely good at giving the watered down ‘me in a nutshell’ version to people.

I’ll get to the end and without fail, the first question is, “so, where’s your family.” Cue anger. “Wtf do they have anything to do with this conversation,” is what I want to say, instead it’s, “oh, we’re spread out. Some live back in New York while others have planted in Florida.”

People are curious, I get it. But can I just control the conversation and only talk about what I want to talk about? Of course not, and this is where I begin to understand shame.

My family couldn’t pay for my college tuition, or give me the movie ‘going away to college’ experience. No dorms. No sororities. No college keggers. I had to pick (what I say in my mind) lower end schools because I couldn’t afford the fancy four-year state universities my friends got to attend. I had to work, pay bills AND try to finish school.

That’s shame.

It sounds silly to write down, but it’s true. The shame gremlins (what Brown calls the nasty voices in our heads) tell me I’m not smart or good enough because I didn’t go to a state university with a competitive football team, which leads to the circumstance of my parents not being able to provide that luxury.

On one hand I’m proud to have hoofed it myself, but on the other hand, I’m ashamed of why I had to hoof it. The reason I’m proud of myself for making it through is the same reason I’m ashamed, strange right?

I don’t want to be labeled, ‘less than’ because of circumstances out of my control i.e. finances. So when somebody asks me about my family after learning of my life’s journey, I assume it’s because they want to know where the hell my family has been through all of this and I instantly feel shame, not because I’m ashamed of them but because the person doing the asking is probably judging them for ‘not being around,’ and that makes me angry, too.

Brown says, “shame is universal and one of the most primitive human emotions we experience. The people who don’t have it lack the capacity for empathy and human connection. Here’s your choice: Fess up to experiencing shame or admit that you’re a sociopath. Quick note: This is the only time that shame seems like a good option.” 

Okay, Okay, I admit it, I have shame.

According to her definition, shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging, and that there are 12 shame categories that’ve emerged from her research.

  1. Appearance and body image
  2. Money and work
  3. Motherhood/fatherhood
  4. Family
  5. Parenting
  6. Mental and physical health
  7. Addiction
  8. Sex
  9. Aging
  10. religion
  11. Surviving trauma
  12. Being stereotyped or labeled

Sidebar: There’s a difference between shame and humiliation (yup, apparently they’re not the same thing even though they sound pretty mutually exclusive). Shame is thinking “I am bad” while humiliation or guilt is “I did something bad.”

Shame holds us back and keeps us from being our best self. My best guess is that because I think less of myself I limit myself to opportunities that seem “too grandiose,” and possibly in other ways I can’t even see because I’m still operating out of shame, fear, AND guilt. WOOF.

How do you combat shame? Talk about it. Give it a name. The more you talk about it the less control it has over your life.

Cheers to hoping that Texan Brene Brown is right, because my damn gremlins are telling me this whole post was a waste of time and it’s not helping anyone, and that I just want to bable about myself…

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online.