i was listening to one of those white-haired wise women speaking from a podium at a conference of speakers and healers and teachers. i closed my eyes because the conference room had bad fluorescent lighting. i sat up straight, rolled my shoulders back, cracked my neck, and took a breath so that i could listen deeper. i heard her words speaking about broken hearts and letting the world break our hearts over and over again. i swallowed, just in case tears started forming a lump in my throat. i’ve been letting the world break my heart over and over again for most of my life. heart-broken-open is my usual state of being. the situations that require my vigilance are the ones where my heart closes in pain rather than breaking open.
sunday afternoon i got drunk on purpose to avoid responsibilities that were too much for me to carry later that night. i knew what i was doing and i knew why but i hadn’t told him of my plan. when he suggested i stop drinking (once i’d barely begun to buzz) because he knew i had responsibilities later that night (but he didn’t know i’d decided to flake on them) i reacted with a shame-fueled bitterness that he didn’t understand. i felt shame for wanting to get drunk. i felt shame for shirking responsibilities. i felt shame for not having the strength or stamina to fulfill my commitments. i felt shame for my unwillingness (or incapacity) to ask for help. i felt shame for my non-communication. i felt shame for the anger that was masking my shame. and in typical downward spiral, i felt shame for the suicidal feelings that arise in conjunction with my shame.
it was a bad night.
i pushed him away because i push people away when i’m shame-filled and feeling unworthy of love or kindness or compassion. he continued being kind, attempted to understand, and kept loving me no matter how many hurtful things i flung in his direction, because that’s what kind and loving people do when they love you and you are reacting with shame.
i never got drunk enough to have an alcohol-related hangover the next morning, but i’ve had a shame hangover all week.
since the shame isn’t receding, i’m sitting in it, i’m surrounded by it, i’d wading in shame up to my armpits. shame makes me want to die. opening my heart to feel the shame breaks my heart open. heart-broken-open is the way i choose to live.