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What I have learned about shame

Posted Dec 31 2012 3:59am

I have been writing this blog for 4 or 5 years and in the process have learned a lot about shame.

I have written many things that I am very proud of.  When I got my end of the year report from wordpress about how this blog had done one of the things that they pointed out was the most popular posts of the last year in several cases were things that were several years old.  They said that what I wrote had staying power and that was neat.  I dont know if it is true or not— but it was still neat.  They also pointed out in the last year this blog had been read by people from 119 countries.  That also felt very neat.

On the other hand I have written many things that later I just cringe when I read them.  Some times I have written things I really thought were good and got absolutely no response or little readership from.  And some things I wrote just really to have something to write have turned out to be very popular. 

I have had more than one day that my stat count defined whether or not it was a good day.  But…….

More and more and more I have come to understand that this blog does not define me.  I remember one reader I had a couple of years  ago who spent an incredible amount of energy trying to find something bad to say about everything I wrote.  More than once he tried to say I was worthless because what I wrote was stupid, simple-minded, or dishonest.  It took me far too much time to realize he really wasnt interested nearly as much in conversation as he was in violence.  Somehow me being stupid seemed to help him feel smarter. 

He seemed insatiable.  He couldnt be nasty enough.  Finally I ended up banning him from this site.  I remember telling him my biggest problem with him was not what he said but who he was.  But I hold a certain measure of gratitude towards him because he started the process of shame busting that I still try to this day.

I learned that:

  • This blog did not define me.  If bad responses could not ruin my day then good responses could not make it.  I wanted good responses.  I wanted it badly sometimes.  I learned finally not to need them. 
  • It was okay to be vulnerable.  Courage I found was the place where fear and vulnerability met.  I found myself posting poems although I was by no measure a poet.  I found myself taking positions I knew were going to upset someone and knowing that was okay.
  • I truly began to understand that what I knew was not nearly as important as who I was.
  • I realized this did not need to be the most successful blog.  It didnt need the most notice, the most acclaim, the most readers (at one time I thought it did).  It wasnt about comparison or competition.  It was okay to do the best I could.  And if others liked it that was gravy.
  • I realized that this blog needed to be more about what I gave rather than what I got.  It was good enough and I had nothing to prove.
  • I realized that I didnt need to hide the things I was ignorant about.  Everyone knew already. 
  • And finally I realized that this blog was not a substitute for the more important things in my life and in that I begin to realize its true importance.

I dont know how much sense all this makes.  I have struggled all my life with trying to prove I am good enough.  I think a lot of us do.  Finally, now in my old age (I least feel old when I get up in the morning) I have begun to realize that it was never something to prove.  When I  know I am already good enough I become much more at peace with being vulnerable and in my vulnerability become more the person I had hoped I always was.

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