Holy shit you guys, I committed the absolute cardinal sin of the liberal nation. It pains me to even admit it to you…. I didn’t vote Tuesday.
I intended to vote, I researched the candidates, I considered the millage for our district. I imagined myself walking into the middle school, smiling at my neighbors and casting my straight party ballot.
When I woke up yesterday, however, this socially involved, well-informed woman, forgot all about voting day. I had my coffee and began to think about my day and then I looked at my schedule.
This was my first mistake.
You see. I usually look at my schedule for the next day before I go to bed at night. The night before I assumed it would be a usual Tuesday. When I looked, I saw that I had scheduled someone an hour earlier than my normal start time. I jumped up, got dressed, threw some food and my water bottle in a bag, made sure the dog pooped and flew out of the house right on time.
Then I drove down the street and saw the political signs in the yards of my neighbors. Holy shit, I forgot to vote!
I quickly thought about my day. I live about 45 minutes from my office. How could I find a window in my day to drive back home and vote and then get back in time for my next commitment? I couldn’t!
Then it hit me… the Shame Wave!
What had I done? How could I have forgotten this duty, this action that is so precious and important to me? What kind of horrible person forgets this and doesn’t make it a priority?
Later I perused Facebook and saw the wonderful women in my life, the ones who inspire me, encourage me and support me, positing photos of their voting trophies, the beautiful sticker that proves they made it to the polls and made a difference. I saw a SheHive post asking what number we were in line at the polls, a way of encouraging conversation and sharing in the joy that is using our voice in our state. Another Shame Wave crashed. I slumped and then I remembered my beloved teacher, Brene’ Brown.
Brene’ studies shame and resilience. If you have not read her work, stop reading this NOW and go watch her TED talk! It is the best 20 minutes of information you will hear, perhaps, ever. She lets us know that shame is the root of all hurt, struggles and emotional challenges. She also lets us know we are not alone and we can heal our shame when we share our secrets with those safe enough to hear them. In a beautiful talk she did with Oprah, she delineated the difference between shame and guilt. She teaches that guilt is the awareness that we have DONE something wrong, we have made a mistake.
Guilt can be a wonderful teacher, it shows us our errors and allows us to change. Shame, however is the belief that we ARE something wrong. It is a comment on our character and is not something that we can change, it is a rotting wound that cannot be healed.
It’s also a big, fat, fucking LIE.
I am not wrong, I am not flawed. I made a mistake. I overbooked my life (again). I didn’t look at my calendar last night. I didn’t put the election date on my calendar, I slept a little longer than usual, and probably 50 other mistakes that stopped me from casting a ballot. This does NOT get to have any reflection on my character.
I sat for a few minutes with this new awareness. I thought about my life the last few weeks. I admitted to myself that I am not doing a very good job of taking care of myself. I’ve been over-scheduled, under-nourished, lacking in fun and just plain out of alignment with my goals.
I spent some time breathing and letting this sink in. Yes, I didn’t vote today. Yes, I’m a good person. Yes, I have something to feel guilty about, lack of self care and priority focus. But NO, there is no need for the Shame Shit Storm. That ends now. You may have seen my post in The SheHive thread, I said some of this there.
I invite you dear woman, to examine what you are currently feeling the Shame Shit Storm about. I invite you to see that guilt is about your choices, which likely need some tweaking because NONE of us is in balance, NONE of us have it correct. I invite you to see that there is no place for shame in your self talk.
You are not wrong. You are not broken, or damaged or unworthy of love, healing and belonging. You are whole, and in process and perfectly imperfect.
Welcome to the club!
Corinne Rogers, PsyD, LP
P.S. Want to share your story about guilt and shame? Leave a comment below! Who knows who you might inspire!