I’m about halfway through Brené Brown’s Gifts of Imperfections. It’s a short book, but I’m taking it chapter by chapter, averaging one every two weeks to really unpack this. It’s like my Voice of Reason and I have our own little book club (although, mostly one-sided), where I draw parallels between other things I’ve read and learned. Brené’s theories on Wholehearted Living had me all in from Day One.
And then there is this whole shame thing.
When I began reading the book, I realized I never connected with that word: Shame. I still find myself pouring over dusty memories in an attempt to discover the start of shame; the root of my disordered eating.
I remember in 3rd grade, my teacher called me (at the time: a tall-for-my-age, big-boned, brunette girl) and a super-tall-for-his-age, athletic blonde boy up to the front of the room. We stood there as the class was instructed to compare and contrast us. (Why? I have asked myself this 1000 times and still can’t come up with a reasonable answer.) To this day, I remember the names of my teacher and my comparison counterpart. I remember how isolating that felt. And I certainly remember that inner voice saying, “Pretend you didn’t hear it. You feel nothing. Don’t let anyone see you sweat.”
As I grew older and my body changed, I shielded snide comments and insults. Someone even told me how pretty I would be if I lost weight. (Making me a million times more grateful for my gem of a husband who would never say such garbage.)
It turns out my memories are not unique. When I started having body image conversations with other women, it was shocking (with weird solidarity) to discover how many times we’ve all experienced the same thing. I could write a hundred of these stories, maybe more, but none that I would point to saying, “Yep. That’s the one. We can all go home now.”
Even though the word shame didn’t resonate with me, there was a question that did: “What has your shame kept you from?”
How many opportunities have I turned down to because I was scared I wasn’t enough? How many times have I sat in the back of the room, not sharing my ideas because I was worried what others would think? How many times did I tell myself no for fear of sticking out?
This realization directly impacted choosing BRAVE as my word for this year.
Scared. Worried. Fear. I am done.