All The Shame Only We Can See

If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can't survive. – Brene Brown

On the cusp of Mother’s Day, I’ve been thinking about that which I have not shared. In visual art, the term is “chiaroscuro,” meaning, “to employ contrast, shadows, and light for dramatic purposes.” For example, when you leave part of a picture in the dark, it forces the brain to fill in what can’t be seen, while emphasizing what is visible.

My blog employs written chiaroscuro, intentional in some cases, other times, sub-conscious, driven by shame. When I write about the searing pain I feel, caused by the gulf between my daughters and me, that’s a bright light. In the shadows are my doubts I will ever truly connect with my daughters. I haven’t talked to my oldest daughter in close to a month. When I imagine the call, I know it will be topical, light-hearted. She will share plans. I’ll ask if there’s anyone new, or significant in her universe. She’ll say not really. She will ask me “what’s new,” a question that triggers shame. I’ll chuckle, replying “I’m keeping busy writing, and wasting time on Twitter.”

After the conversation, I will find little if any comfort from the most meager of connections I just had. Externally, when questioned, I smile and say, “Yeah! I just talked to my daughter today.”

My ex-wife is in France with my youngest daughter. They’re taking a week-long bike tour of Burgundy. This is the second time my ex has visited our daughter while she studies in Rome, junior year, spring semester. I don’t begrudge my ex one iota. I am envious, but I know my daughters are not “choosing” my ex to my exclusion.

In my verbal portrait that is this blog, I have kept my shame over my financial status deep in the shadows. In truth, I struggle, often ignoring the fact my 28 year marriage was a partnership, that my ex and I both made sacrifices and choices for the sake of the family, that we shared our lives without condition. It is easy for me to feel undeserving, a charity case. When I do, if I’m lucky I focus on my breath, and the compassion I feel for myself re-emerges. Alternatively, I mix a Manhattan. Or three. On a positive note, I am happy to report a consistent trend toward compassion and meditation rather than self-medicating.

I suspect the pecuniary shame I feel prevents me from developing new relationships. I dread that moment when I will need to explain how I am living off an allowance doled out by my ex-wife.

I’m not writing this as a plea for friends, new and old, to remind me I am loved, though I know some will reach out. Thank you in advance. I do feel appreciated, loved, that I’m a good person. And I take solace aaware I can feel both the positives while carrying shame at the same time.

I am writing this post because I am absolutely positive I am not alone in my feelings, and I hope for at least one person out there, something I share resonates, and helps that person to feel less isolated.

Thanks for listening. Stay in touch. Connect.

P.S. A not-so-random video. I love seeing the lads on stage. It demystifies them, at least for me. Enjoy.

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