When shame and the desire to hide meet #continuouspractice

IMG_6314Yesterday, I was reading at clinical and this sentence stopped me in my tracks.

Alienation is shame on steroids. It is the extreme, unshakeable feeling of being “less than” and unlike normal people. (From It’s not you, it’s what happened to you: Complex trauma and and treatment by Christine Courtois)

It’s something that rattled through me like a freight train, and I was considering throughout the day.

Fast forward to today, when I’m sitting at my kitchen table, staring at my journal. You see, I haven’t done my #continuouspractice writing in over a week… and I felt shame up to my eyeballs. Questions about my self-worth, my ability to do this (and it’s interesting to note how quickly the “this” spirals out to include everything in my life, not just practice), about posting on Instagram and having to acknowledge that I hadn’t been writing… I nearly set my journal in the pile of stuff next to me and start doing my homework. Why continue? You’ve already messed up, it’s been more than just one missed day. It’s NINE! You’ve screwed it up.

And I told myself that I didn’t have to write, but that I missed it. That I could do 20 minutes then start work. And so, I did. And in the space of writing practice, I realized that this throw-my-hands-up-and-run-away response is not unfamiliar; nor is the stream of put-downs about that response. It was a wake up call how quickly shame responses lead me to alienate, to pull away and pull back. To make myself invisible, as though that will make the shame go away.

Usually? It doesn’t. It just becomes a ghost that haunts me, about why I can’t do something (anything), and it freezes me in my tracks.

In practice, I reminded myself I have a choice. I don’t have to continue doing #continuouspractice. I can continue. I can start back at day one or keep going from where I was. I can choose to hide. I can choose to be honest about these feelings or I can shut down and try to ignore them. There are many ways to go. I have the power choose.

So today, I chose to show up to myself and my practice. To show self-compassion {yeah, it’s been busy and you haven’t made time to do this} and accountability {don’t run away from this, even if it seems “easier” right now – show up}, recognizing self-compassion and accountability are not mutually exclusive.

I can choose to hold both.

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