Maybe my ambition was actually shame.
It makes a lot of sense.
How else can you achieve things that most people deem special and amazing and extraordinary, and hardly feel a fucking thing?
Shame can’t be compensated by achievement.
The universally nagging ‘I’m Not Good Enough’ can never be silenced by success.
It seems that shame has been the driving force behind most of my bigger endeavors in life, from careers in the spotlight to life-threatening, stupid habits.
Seeing it like this actually levels the playing field.
It highlights what CAN be good about shame, or that good things can come out of it.
Shame not only ‘helped’ me in becoming an alcoholic; it also helped me quit drinking after 25 years.
How incredibly versatile!
I’ve been walking around with shame forever, and I only recognize that now.
It’s a sense of ongoing restlessness, with the faint scent of pending punishment.
It’s like always being in a hurry to get to a place that will have vanished the moment you finally get there.
It has accompanied me in everything I did, and made it almost impossible to just sit down and do nothing, even though I tried very hard (as a very spiritual person, ugh…).
Shame isn’t inherently bad, just like nothing is.
It can bring about beautiful and powerful things, but that doesn’t mean that those things can only be brought about by shame.
I know very well it’s scary to let go of the relative comfort of shame as the engine behind almost everything you do, because it can feel very unsafe.
But what might help is appreciating the shame for what it has brought you.
There WERE good things.
And by doing so you can acknowledge its deeply motivational qualities and its essentially loving purpose, and it will no longer need to be so pervasive.
If shame is a replacement for safety, or a way to keep you alive or make you special, no wonder you’ll keep hanging on to it.
Shining a light on this deepest of emotions, this very human sensation, will help you find new ways.
(Photo by @tabithabrooke, for Unsplash)