Speaking Shame & Sharing Humanity (How high is YOUR laundry pile?)
I love Twitter. There’s always someone around to chat, and sometimes epic conversations unfold in which connections are made, and hearts are healed by laughter. Tonight was one of those nights. I saw a friend posting about housework, rather, house-wreck, and soon I, and others were chiming in. Our stories were similar. We want clean, organized, Pinterest-worthy houses, and we just can’t make it happen. We feel sad, overwhelmed, and embarrassed. We feel we’re not good enough. We feel it’s just us, that we’re set-apart and special in these domestic challenges. We feel shame.
People don’t often come out and say “I feel shame,” but the notion of not being good enough runs like a current through our culture, and it colors our interactions. I listen for the shame stories in my own voice, as well as in my conversations. Do any of these sound familiar?
Shame doesn’t always roar. For me, it’s quiet and constant, a mantra scuttling across my psyche, “do better, get it together, never enough, never enough…”
Here’s what I know about shame from Brené Brown‘s research-
- Everyone with a capacity for connection experiences it
- Nobody wants to talk about it
- Not talking about it makes it worse
Shame is the painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging. It’s the voice that says “you suck. You’re a failure at homemaking. Don’t let your friends come over. You know, your friends who don’t suck. The competent ones with clean houses. Don’t let them come over, Miss Messy Mess-Mess.”
Shame is the frenzy of shoving shit in closets before the doorbell rings, because somehow OUR VERY WORTH is attached to our baseboards and countertops.
Shame is the idea that everyone else has it together, but we somehow missed the class on proficient adulting.
My shower curtain is nasty. Shame is nastier.
But here’s something else I’ve learned-
“Shame cannot survive being spoken. It cannot survive empathy.” -Brené Brown
By sharing our struggles and our perceived failings, we are cultivating shame resiliency. When we say, “my laundry pile is more mountain than molehill and I feel real bad,” and we hear “me too! me too!” HOT DAMN! That’s empathy!
The truth is, we are ALL imperfect, ALL wired for struggle, and ALL very much worthy of love and belonging. By speaking shame, and sharing humanity, we learn, heal, and grow together. I am grateful for the vulnerability that allows connection, and the treasure that is laughter amongst friends.
Tomorrow is laundry day.