I’ve been lost in a circle of shame. Lost with untold stories. And my partner in crime is not here to release me. He died of cancer.
I tell others that there is no shame in a mess. That it is all usable by the Divine. To turn that mess over to God and watch the miracles multiply.
It seems I hold myself to another, less forgiving, measure.
I found the quote above in a Somerset Life magazine that was tucked into a care package of goodies intended to help me heal from flu/bronchitis complications after my breast surgery. Dropped off by an earth angel who had no way of knowing the key to freedom her gesture – and this quote – offered.
I was in agony. Not from the flu or bronchitis or even the breast cancer. They paled in comparison to the hurdle mounting within me.
Survivor’s guilt had escalated to shame. And my grief was complicated by a relationship decision, made by Ray and I, to preserve the love between us. Our decision to divorce acknowledged both our stumble and our treasure, and embraced the best “save” we had with the information at hand. Some days it is a load to be the one left behind with that decision – knowing what we didn’t know then.
“You divorced. He died of cancer.”
God grant me the serenity to share and shed my shame.
The roots of the word shame derive from an older word meaning “to cover.” There are stories I desire to tell without covering, censoring or questioning myself at every turn. There will be no joy expressed in my healing work or creative play without owning this place where I stumble.
“We divorced. He died. I got breast cancer.”
How do I claim health for myself when I could not claim it for him?
That’s a question that shame and judgment ask. Not reason. Not compassion. Not forgiveness.
I am giving myself permission to accept that my guilt grew to shame for the years of divorce. I am letting go of the shoulda-woulda-coulda stuff. I am not going to layer pain atop more pain in berating myself for a messy organic progression of feelings – feelings that I can love you through but not myself. The “shush don’t talk about it” shame train stops here. No more soul-crushing judgments on myself.
They say we are only as sick as the secrets we keep.
I tell stories to open doors, give permission, offer connection and invite forgiveness. I am grateful to have you witness my shame, released through this story. It is a story about life and death and love and forgiveness – and what it looks like to thrive while moving through the meSSy sTuFf.
I am not telling this story alone. Ray is with me, looking over my shoulder. He is saying,
“Honey. We made that decision together. And it did save US. We never stopped loving. That is our story and the one I want you to move forward with. I am not here in the guilt or the shame. My death freed us from those struggles. Please don’t carry that load. I’ve got this now. Let it go.”
To be continued? I’m thinking so.
Take a deep breath. Now exhale. That felt really good, didn’t it?
I always love to hear your thoughts, DEar HEaRTs. You matter to me! And I have no shame in admitting that! Mwah! XO Bernadette
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