I wrote recently about shame and in doing so I realised how much it motivates what we do and say and yet we speak about it so infrequently. I feel like it's the emotional equivalent of damp - you can try and ignore it or paint over it but eventually it's gonna wreck your foundations. In an attempt to avoid this, my mission this week was to admit to my shame - to myself, to my friends and now to you. So here follows my list of shame this week...
I'm ashamed of my blog progress. It's awards season in blogland. Seeing a lot of my contemporaries honoured for their talents and creativity obviously makes me reflect on my own journey and find myself lacking. I tackle my shame by committing to more writing time and following through with a promotion schedule. Obviously I couldn't change things in a week but it did have a positive impact on my emotions. It seems hustle diminishes shame.
I'm ashamed my house is the pits. Not all the time but, you know, 87% of the time. To make matters worse I grew up in a home that was always immaculate. I tell my mum that I'm embarrassed I cannot live up to her standards. She tells me I can totally do it and that I just have to get organised. She outlines her cleaning routine including an epic Saturday morning house detox. I remember these hectic starts to the weekend - strictly no fun until chores done. For years my job was to clean the bathroom, I used to hide in there and read Roald Dahl. I know I'd still rather read The Witches then wash windows; this helps me to understand that there's no point being ashamed of something you're not willing to do.
I'm ashamed I spend so much time on my phone. I'm on the train with Roscoe, he's quiet and content for once and I take the opportunity to have a quick scroll through Instagram. As I do so a man who appears to be suffering from a mental illness passes by, he observes very loudly that I am on my phone and not talking to my child - something that apparently fits into some theory of societal demise that he has. I am hurt and embarrassed but by the time I disembark I start to wonder which one of us is in the most mental distress. My son is my world but I am addicted to a virtual one. I work out my limits and I set an alarm on my phone so that I can check it every couple of hours. I find that this is enough. I realise that I am in control of my shameful habits and not the other way round.
I'm ashamed of my job. support worker and it is endlessly rewarding - but of the fact that after all the opportunities I've had and all the education I've experienced I work in an entry level position. I tell a friend about my shame and she dutifully reminds me of all the good I do. I realise as she's speaking that I am not ashamed of my work, I'm ashamed of not being ashamed. This shame business is complicated.
I'm ashamed of my lack of knowledge - It's my Dad's birthday. I ask my mum what he needs and she makes a noise somewhere between a sigh and a scoff. I buy him a bottle of cognac, nice cognac but still a gift for a particularly helpful neighbour. I tell him I'm ashamed that I couldn't get him something more personal and he says, 'I'm happy with this. I don't have any hobbies really, I'm sorry I'm not more cultured.' I think this was my most important shame lesson - don't make your shame someone elses problem, you might end up feeding thier own.