Shame On Me?

Shame On Me, a blog by Bernadette Rose Smith

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.

Shame On Me, a blog by Bernadette Rose Smith

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.”

Shame On Me, a blog by Bernadette Rose Smith

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.”

Shame On Me, a blog by Bernadette Rose Smith

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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3 thoughts on “Shame On Me?

  • March 12, 2018 at 10:58 pm

    Bernadette you are the most courageous woman/writer that I know. In just those few paragraphs of love, life, death …and mESsy choices; you reminded me WHY I spill my guts by writing my personal StUfF and posting it on Facebook. Because I have to write. The words inside me are endless. I have embarrassed my family, my real friends love me no matter what, and the rest of my friends list is made up of people I haven’t seen in years who stick around just to watch the train wreck. Oh do they really not think I don’t know? Seriously? Our stories Bernadette are our “journeys thru this life,” the most precious pieces of our soul. Your story, and Ray’s, no matter what comes next is sure to touch the hearts of so many people. I’m with Ray. Be free and let it go. Sure we could hide our real lives away and continue as if we lived in a fairytale, but we do not do that. Why? Because we cannot stop ourselves. We were born to write, to share, to touch lives. This life and the next will no doubt continue to be a MeSsY place because we spiritual sisters will carry on wherever we land. I applaud you and encourage you to keep on writing! I’m honored to be included in the next chapters of your love story with your beloved Ray.


    P.S. I’ll probably wish I’d wordsmithed this before I wrote my immediate thoughts. Oh what the heck, like life nothing I write will ever be perfect because I don’t want to be perfect. I want to be me.

    • March 13, 2018 at 8:30 am

      Kimberly, You’re RigHt, we came to WRiTe about the meSSy PieCeS of LiFe. And to be ourselves in it ’cause it’s about giving ALL of US permission to be as God made us, not our ideas of perfection. I suspect we were Psalmists, back in the day, though I think most of my stuff never made the cut and wound up in the campfire. Guess I’ve been making up for it ever since. I have ALL THESE WORDS left! 😉 HeeHeeHee ….

      I am so grateful that YOU are not afraid to be YOU – and that YOU USE your gift. And I always benefit. No edits or wordsmithing necessary, Hon. We’ll keep telling the stories, without censor, ’cause that’s what we came here to do. And when MY time is up there will be a HUGE campfire just to dispose of ALL THESE JOURNALS! 😉 Love you and thank you for all you shared here. You are good for my spirit. XO

    • March 13, 2018 at 9:54 am

      And your story, Kimberly, is just as courageous. In that small paragraph you boldly venture into vulnerability because our strength lies in our vulnerability. How many people really know that?

      Not many, I think. There are not many who boldly venture there. To admit that you embarrassed your family….. For Bernadette to admit to a divorce (that we know wasn’t really real, but that she carried the shame for anyway), to admit to our deepest losses and then have to confess that they were all on us, our faults, no one else’s. ….. Those are the confessions that loosen the shackles of shame and give us wings.

      I applaud you both.

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