SHAME WITH OYSTERS
As we say good bye to 2015 and walk ourselves into 2016, who of us has not taken some time to reflect on the past year? When I think about the past year, I inevitably start thinking about my past experiences in general.
I would like to say that I think back on my successes and feel pride and gratitude for having arrived to where I am now. But no, this mind of mine is not where it wants to go. My brain likes to go to the difficult moments in my life. I am ASHAMED to say that I find moments where I was ASHAMED of my actions.
One of the definitions of SHAME is “a feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong”. Moments in life where I was ashamed that I made that phone call that I shouldn’t have, or ashamed of NOT making that phone call that I should have. I can think of several moments in my personal life that make me ashamed and I feel ill when I think about them. Although, I can justify my actions with my youthful immaturity. I keep those thoughts hidden in my memories and in my heart where I don’t have to face them. But this year, my resolution is to face them. And the more I confront them, the less power they have.
I’m actually lying to you…I have those good intentions but it’s certainly not easy. The minute that we recognize we are ashamed we try to justify our actions. But it doesn’t feel comfortable…it’s like wearing tight shoes.
An element of SHAME is embarrassment. This is different. Embarrassment implies an action that you don’t have control of whereas shame implies an opportunity to control but you made the wrong choice. When we experience embarrassment we are afraid that we look bad to others, that somehow they won’t like us as well.
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I experienced extreme embarrassment a couple of weeks ago when I was having dinner with someone that is very special to me. We were having a dinner party with a group of his friends and we were all enjoying the food at the table. I am ASHAMED to admit that my eyes were bigger than my mouth, as I reached for the biggest oyster on the plate. But it was literally too BIG for me to swallow, making me choke. I got up grasping for air. Everyone at the table immediately knew something was wrong. For a fraction of a second I debated what to do since I was so EMBARASSED, it was a matter of life or death, my death, since I was choking and not breathing. He immediately came towards me and proceeded to do the Heimlich maneuver, releasing from my throat the biggest and now famous oyster. Yeah, he saved my life but not my pride!!
I know this year is not going to end without me having other moments of SHAME, but I’m certain I’m not going to have them with oysters.