Shame, I’m Breaking-Up With You

I know we’ve been thick as thieves for many years, Shame, but enough is enough.  I used to think that you were a harmless part of life, that you existed as a kind of check-and-balance to keep me in line.  But no more.  I see you, Shame.  I know that you’ve been trying to squelch every ounce of my happiness since the moment we first met.  I know that you are sneaky and sly and that you try to pass off all of your wicked thoughts as mine.  I’m on to you.

When I left my kids in my husband’s capable hands for bedtime to have some take-care-of-my-soul-time with other women at church, I heard you accuse me of being a monster of a mom who chooses her church over her kids.

Then, when I left the office for a half-hour to watch my daughter’s dance class perform, you told me I was a terrible pastor, a disappointment to God, because I chose my kids over my church.

I’m on to you, Shame.

When I denied my kid an after-dinner treat because she threw her food on the floor even after being sternly warned not to throw said food on the floor, and then she cried alligator tears and said she promises she’ll never do it again, please, please, please give her a treat, and I still didn’t give in, you told me I’m heartless and uncompassionate, not worthy of motherhood.

And when I gave my kids an unexpected piece of chocolate on a random afternoon, you told me that I’m irresponsible and indulging, not worthy of motherhood.

I’m on to you, Shame.  With you, I can never win.

Like the time I was sick of you telling me how much of a failure I am because my house is always dirty, but whenever I spend time cleaning you say I’m a failure of a wife because I should be spending that precious time with my husband.   So I bought a Roomba to get you to shut up already.  And then, I heard what you said when I was sitting on the couch with my husband after a long day while the Roomba cleaned beneath our feet.  I heard you hissing in my ear: “you are so lazy, you can’t even use this free time to do something productive.”

I’m on to you, Shame.  You’re not just ruining my life, but also millions of lives around the world.  You make motherhood feel impossible when you demand a perfection that even Wonder Woman couldn’t attain.  You make marriage feel like a string of disappointments when you tell us that we’ll never have it as good as the movies.  You take the life right out of Life when you tell us that we will never have A Really Good Life because we don’t deserve it.  We are too (guilty? fat? damaged? weak? You just love to fill in the blank with whatever will cut the deepest).

I used to think I couldn’t live without you.  But now I’ve realized that I can’t live with you.  At least, I can’t live the fulfilled, joyful life I want to live.  So, I’m done.

And I’m going to tell it to you straight, Shame – the truth is, there’s Someone else.  Someone who doesn’t make me feel worthless or unloveable or like I’m never enough.  This Someone made me and knows the number of hairs on my (never styled to your standards) head.  He rejoices over me.  He calls me things like “beloved” and “cherished.”  He knows every single thing about me, and he still thinks I’m worth dying for.

It’s His voice I’m interested in listening to.  Because like you, He knows when I mess up.  He knows when I do something foolish and selfish and stupid.  But unlike you, He doesn’t make me feel foolish and selfish and stupid for it.  He may help me see that I made a mistake.  But He will never tell me that I am a mistake.  Unlike you.

So, Shame, you can leave your key and go your own miserable way.  I know, I know.  You say you’ll never leave me.  You’ll come back again and again to whisper your poisonous lies whenever I am not on my guard.

But here’s what I’m going to do.  Whenever I know you’re close, I’m going to draw closer to the One who loves me no matter what, simply because I am.  I will drown out your sorry voice by whispering what I’ve learned from Him, “I am beloved.  I am worthy.  I am beloved.  I am worthy.” over and over and over again until you finally get the hint and go.

So you see, Shame, we’re breaking up.  I am not going to be manipulated by you any longer.  Because I’ve finally realized something that has changed our relationship forever: The problem is not me, it’s you.


*Dear Reader: if you are ready to break up with Shame, too, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Dr. Brene Brown.  I am reading through it now and devouring every single page.  Let me go ahead and say in advance, you’re welcome.

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