I don’t watch a lot of television because I find it to be a complete waste of time and brain power. So when I was told that one of our group therapy sessions was designed by a woman named Brené Brown, who had been on Oprah several times, I automatically wasn’t interested. Judgmental much? For the first two groups that I attended, I pretended to be interested but wasn’t really paying attention. Then I saw this video in a different group that I attended. This video changed my opinion drastically. Why? Because it was all about shame and vulnerability and how it affects our ability to be fully present in our own lives.
While watching this video for the first time (and I have watched it several times at this point), I had a true “ah ha moment”. I realized just how much shame has ruled my life since I was a teenager and just how much effort I have put into not looking or acting vulnerable. I have gone out of my way to always appear to be just like every other woman out there. I was too afraid just to be me and it took a significant amount of energy to keep up with my public appearance. I always felt like I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough, etc. I entirely agree with her statement, “Shame, for women, is this web of unobtainable, conflicting, competing expectations about who we’re supposed to be. And it’s a straight-jacket.” It truly has been for me. I think that is one of the biggest reasons that the rageful side of my bipolar manic episodes were so bad. All of my energy went into being what I thought everyone else wanted me to be and I had no energy left to control my own emotions. This left me with the feelings that I was a bad person and those feelings were reinforced by anyone who had ever seen me at my worst moments. This was especially true of my family.
At one point it the video she states that for shame to flourish it needs three things; silence, secrecy and judgement. That should be my family motto. No one talks about anything in my family. Especially the important things. And God help you if you talk about things to others. No one needs to know what goes on behind closed doors, right? Until recently I took all of those teachings to heart. No one needed to know what I was dealing with. Not even my family. And I was certainly not going to tell anyone outside of my family about the fact that I have bipolar disorder. Holy crap! Are you kidding? That would just be setting me up for even more judgement and for even more people to think I was a bad person. No one was more shocked than me the day that I started this blog and then posted it all over the internet. I did it and then a couple of minutes later completely freaked out. I did not realize at that point that by doing this I had decided to be open to vulnerability and that it took a tremendous amount of courage to do what I did. Even now I have moments of “Oh my God! What have I done?”, but I choose to keep going. My hope is that by doing this I can finally be truly present in my own life, to be who I truly am and hopefully to help someone else to realize just what there life can be like when they choose to change their world.
I want to end this with the quote that she uses from Theodore Roosevelt because I believe it to be an important one and even if you choose not to watch the video I want to at least give you this: “It is not the critic who counts. It is not the man who sits and points out how the doer of deeds could have done things better and how he falls and stumbles. The credit goes to the man in the arena whose face is marred with dust and blood and sweat. But when he’s in the arena, at best he wins, and at worst he loses, but when he fails, when he loses, he does so daring greatly.”
Today’s shout out is a little unusual because it is actually the “Let It Go” song I heard last night while watching Disney’s Frozen. When I was listening to it last night I knew I wanted to incorporate it into today’s blog post. I just didn’t know how I was going to do it. Oddly enough, it seems to be perfect for the topic I chose for today. Enjoy! And much love to all of you!