Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Choices...and Shame

I've mentioned I read a life-changing book this past summer by Brene Brown called I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power.  I love her website, and she published this article the other day.  I was honestly on there this evening trying to remember if I had left a comment, when I saw another person's comment that broke my heart.  So, this is my response to another person over at Ordinary Courage.  I'm re-posting it here for this reason alone: it's strange that I feel I can comfort a stranger when I refuse to comfort myself....  I think this is an area I need to look at in myself.  My "self-talk" has gotten a little too hateful lately, so I need to think of myself in this manner:

Ms. Brown, I'd like to address "ashamed" from above who left this message.  Please feel free to delete my response if this isn't appropriate....  I am just another woman, and my advice is definitely more "streetwise" than educational.  I clicked on her name but it was unable to email her back.

She said: "I love the advice that you offer. When can we discuss the fear and shame involved in the decision to not become a parent? How do I face that without judging myself or having others judge me?
10.17.2011 | ashamed"

Dear heart, I have no clue who you are or what challenges you face, but I'd give you a hug if I could.

The decision to have or not have children is such a personal choice, yet it is considered an integral part of our PUBLIC identity.  The reasons for both choices are infinite, yet they don't really matter--know that on BOTH sides of this "coin" of parenthood, judgement is constantly being faced. 

There are always going to be those who disagree with our decisions, so if your choice is to not have children, I don't think it's shameful at all.  Embrace your identity!  I sincerely say that to you--embrace it.  Make peace with yourself knowing that you are doing the right thing. 

We are all criticized constantly, for what kind of car we drive and how well we maintain it to what we wear to the grocery store to how we decorate our homes for the holidays to whether we contribute money to buy a birthday cake for some co-worker when we don't know him and we're on a diet to even being on a diet (or not!) or being on a tight budget....  It is endless!!!!! 

One of my favorite books is "I Don't Know How She Does It," and in spite of the fact that I read it once, about 8 years ago and well over at least 350 books ago, I remember this so vividly: She's a working mom of 2.  She orders PLAIN cupcakes from the grocery store and ICES them herself, so she is not criticized by the other mothers at her child's school for "not loving them enough" to bake for the bake sale.  She also buys a pie and whacks it (like, with a rolling pin, and I think she throws some flour on it too) so it doesn't look purchased either.  Talk about being afraid of judgement!!

What I learned from Ms. Brown's book this past summer is that the SHAME separates us, when in fact, it's a UNIVERSAL emotion.  I'm so ashamed of the selfish reasons I had for being a parent, I really am.  There have been many times when I've wondered what on earth made me think I was qualified to reproduce, much less raise a child.....  The fact that I even worry about whether I'm a good-enough parent is (I've been told) a good sign--so wouldn't the opposite be true?  It's the SHAME we need to try to heal from, not our decisions!

I'm still working on letting go of my SHAME.  (I'm a little afraid I'll be doing the same on my deathbed after living a long and fulfilled life 65+ years from now.)  So for tonight, you let go of yours and I'll let go of mine, and we can both go to sleep tonight knowing we're not the only ones, ok?
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