Shame is what I ran from. It felt too painful to endure. I tried to avoid it at all costs even if it meant contorting myself to be accepted. I just made the contortions look natural and pleasing to the eye.
Don’t see my ugliness. See me as special, good, and lovable.
I will hide my anger, my fears, my selfishness, and my weakness.
Especially, my weakness.
I still fill the prickles of shame.
I was standing in the playground in my brown Clarks sandals and bright white knee-high socks that my mom made sure sparkled. The sun was warm and the sky was blue with puffy white clouds floating in it. My navy blue school uniform was pristine. Navy skirt, white shirt with a navy jumper over top. My long black hair was pulled back in a ponytail with a red ribbon tied in a perfect bow. I stood separate from a group of children from my kindergarten class. They were looking at me, staring. I looked back warily frozen on the spot. Everything was pristine except for my wet underpants.
“Come sit on my lap.” Gabriella, or Garbyella as I called her, said to me.
I knew she knew. The prickles of shame stung my face.
All I could do was pretend. Pretend that everything was normal. Nothing was wrong.
Garbyella was the ring leader. Whatever she decided everyone else would follow.
I couldn’t see a way out so denial was my best option. Deny the facts. Be oblivious to the truth. Ignore the evidence.
I sat on her lap and pretended everything was normal. The rest is blank in my memory. I have no recollection of what happened next.
That is the generosity of memory when it protects us from what is painful.
I was the kid who was picked on and who didn’t have the courage to stand up for myself. I was a pleaser, a placator, I would bend and twist to fit in. My survival didn’t have room for loyalty.
I ingratiated myself with others. Too nice to hold healthy boundaries. Easily taken advantage of. With the stink of shame clinging to me unable to be washed off.
As an adult, I see the conditioning at play. There is expansion into freedom, but there is also contraction. That is human.
My fear of weakness can still drive me to not show how awkward I feel or how scared I am.
When I was doing a breathwork session recently I was overcome by a terrifying fear. There was no content to the fear, but it felt so consuming I immediately took off my eye mask and sat up. The adrenaline subsided, and I walked around to shake off the feeling. The next day during the session the same feeling returned, but this time I became curious about it, and in my curiosity, I opened up to myself. It was surprising how different this felt. I felt my feelings rather than being frozen in the face of them. And rather than being consumed by emotion the feelings just melted away.
My conditioning previously had me freeze in the face of intense fear rather than feel it. But that was all that was needed. It was pretty anti-climatic. There wasn’t even a whimper or a tear, but the shift was profound.
I didn’t set out to do this. It wasn’t anything I could have figured out. I just happened -- experiential learning.
Now I feel more grounded and whole.
Whatever you might be resisting or feeling ashamed of know there is a learning curve available.
For me, it involved a willingness to step into the unknown and be open to seeing what arose. The innate wisdom within me gave me curiosity to help me bring more of myself into the light of awareness.
Trust that innate wisdom within you to show you the way home and illuminate your journey of awakening.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In the first season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couple's intensive retreat programs that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilders Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.