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Owning Your Shame

The thing about doing something you regret is that you are often too ashamed to own up to it. When you are afraid to share your humiliation with other people, it ends up burrowing deep into your psyche. It then festers inside your soul like gangrene as you are left alone to deal with the remorse. Not only are you then shouldering the burden of your guilt, but also the heavy load of keeping it in.

I feel like the only way to truly forgive yourself for misdeeds is to air them out like socks. Rather than tucking your offence back in like teenage boy with a boner, just let the mast of your transgressions fly erect.

I had one of these experiences the other day. I was bringing The Munch to her last day of school picnic, and of course, was running late. I was also supposed to pick up her Uncle and Cousin Calvin on the way, so I was consequently making them late too.

Of course in the grand scheme of life, it is not a big deal that we weren’t going to be on time. We were probably just missing out on some pagan Waldorf ceremony where the group sang to grandmother moon while making mazes out of freshly harvested wheat – but I was feeling anxious non the less.

Part of my problem was that I was SUPER FUCKING STRESSED out that week. A lot was going on, and I was NOT on my best form. I am not usually one to take out my feelings on others, but much like those rare moments when you think a fart is just a fart – shit happens.

So Munch and I got in the car, drove down the driveway, and were about to turn onto the highway.

Munch: Wait Mom! Can we go back and get my Frozen Flip Flops?
Toni: Dude no. We already have your sneakers and other sandals. Let’s just go… we are already late.
Munch: PLEASE MAMA I WANNA TURN AROUND AND GET MY FROZEN FLIP FLOPS!
Toni: NO!

This wasn’t just any “no.” This was the kind of “no” where I screamed in Munch’s face with such vigor that her hair blew back from the velocity of my breath.

The Munch turned away from me, looked out the window, and silently cried.

Okay, there is NOTHING more disturbing than a child crying silently.

I felt soooo fucking horrible about myself. But I was also still SUPER aggravated! GODDAMN THOSE FROZEN FLIP FLOPS! I HATE THEM!

Toni: Munch, I’m really sorry. I should not have yelled like that. But sometimes you can be really annoying when you don’t take “no” for an answer. Can you understand that?
Munch: Yes.

Munch was still pretty damn sad. So just to totally mix messages, confuse things, and probably fuck her up for life – I turned around and got the shoes.

Toni: Here are your shoes. I really resent doing that, but I did it out of guilt because I snapped at you, and I don’t like snapping. Just please realize that when people say “no,” you have to respect it.
Munch: Okay.

We hugged it out, but she was still pretty quite on the drive to her cousin’s house. So when her Uncle and Cousin got in the car, rather than let the energy chafe the vibe of the car like testes on a hot thigh, I just told them the story of what happened.

Toni: On our drive here, Munch really wanted her Frozen flip flops, but I really didn’t want to get them, and I yelled at her super loud! Like I was a child! I acted like a big baby rather than the grown up!

We all laughed.

Munch: And then I cried! But we made up, and my mom gave me a hug.

Then everything was fine. Why hide this outburst so we both had to pretend it didn’t happen? By talking about it, we both could let go of it. People flip the fuck out all the time, and the best way to deal with it is to look it in the face and admit it happened.

This is me gearing up to be an asshole…

shame-blog-(i)

3 Responses to Owning Your Shame

  1. Laszlo Nagy says:

    This makes so much sense. I vaguely remember this. Everything seemed fine when I got into the car and .. it was just you and me and two babies. But for sure, if shit is flipped, one talks about the shit that was flipped, why the shit flipped, what are the prospects for shit flipping in the future, de-risking shit-flips in the future, such that the basic containment of any shit-flipping is perhaps 50% accomplished by the candid acknowledgement of more than one person that once upon a time, shit was flipped.

  2. joel says:

    You’re not going to credit playwright Munch?

  3. Lizzie says:

    This is very smart and such good advice!

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