I’ve been trying to figure out a nagging feeling these last few months. A feeling that’s been coming and going since I can remember, a sort of low, barely noticeable humming tightness and pressure in my throat and belly.
I’ve discovered the this feeling of shame has been influencing me way more than I care to admit. Not the kind of burning-cheeks, watery-eyes kind of shame. More of a constant low level stress or anxiety.
The kind of shame that sits with you, even when you think you’ve accepted yourself.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t know exactly how to handle this kind of shame. I’ve been doing some experiments on myself, to try and see what the answer might be.
An honest life
What’s given me the most relief has been honesty and sincerity. To myself especially, but also to some extent to those around me.
One of my major shamers that I managed to single out from the torrent of self-judging, is the nature of my sexuality. I know I’m not alone in this. It’s no secret that sex is taboo in western culture, even though we simultaneously venerate it through media and advertising.
What’s been causing me shame? Well, I’ve finally decided to admit and accept that I’m not a totally straight dude. What that means, I don’t know. All I do know is that I don’t fit into the labeled frame of heterosexual male.
And I’ve known it for years and years, but somehow I kept repressing it, hoping it would go away.
Accept yourself as you are
Admittance and acceptance are conscious decisions, they are not arbitrary. We have way more control over the way we feel than we realize.
After admitting it to myself I decided to admit it to my girlfriend, and later to my best friend.
Both of them were totally fine with it, which says a lot about the quality of my loved ones. It was a great relief, in fact way more of a relief than I initially expected. The proverbial load-off-my-mind has been very tangible.
Now I still have some way to go before I’m fully shame free, but this has been an important first step to my mind.
I have a lot more digging around to do regarding my sexuality and what I want to do about it, and I can feel that there are other issues that I need to get off my chest, but that will have to wait until I’m fully ready.
Coming to terms with the fluidity of my sexual interests has really intrigued me, especially because of how much it had been weighing down on me without me actually noticing.
It’s like if you’ve been carrying a ten pound backpack on your shoulders for ten years straight, without ever taking it off, you’ll eventually stop noticing that it’s there.
And you won’t be able to imagine the incredible relief you’ll experience when you finally manage to shrug it off.
The magnifying glass
One other thing that I’ve noticed, is that working with shame can actually magnify the feeling before actually being able to release it.
When I started poking around in the recesses of my psyche, looking for the shamer, the feeling of shame started to become pretty strong, way stronger than the low humming from before.
When I finally admitted my shame to myself and accepted it, it felt like something was trying to burst out of my chest. I felt like I just had to tell someone, anyone. And the combination of acceptance and sharing released the tightness in my throat, and the pressure in my abdomen.
I started feeling a wonderful feeling of self-love. I’ve been cultivating self-love for some time and it’s been increasing gradually since I started, but this was like a boost, like an injection of some beautiful loving chemical into my emotional veins.
I understand now that the more shamers I discover and disarm, the more I’ll be able to love myself and others. This will be the main work in my journaling efforts until I release them all.
What can I do?
For those of you that want to experience the wonderful release I’ve been describing, it will take some work. Don’t be discouraged though, every journey starts with the first step.
Make a decision, a decision to write in your journal every single day, however little time you manage to scrape up in the beginning.
Write whatever comes to your mind. At first it will be superficial and facile, but it’s like an onion : The sweetest, juiciest layers are deep within. With time and patience, you will reach the core of your being, and at that point all the work will be repaid with interest.
If you’re up to it, you can throw some psychedelics into the mix. Be careful that you know what you’re doing though. They can be incredibly therapeutic but only when approached with respect.
A human being is a complicated thing, at the same time as it’s a beautifully simple thing. There are many facets, many different things to examine and observe, but at the center there lies a soul, so pristine and perfect that you won’t believe that this wonderful thing was to be found within you all along.
Whatever your past, and whatever happens in the future, you can decide to forgive yourself and others for all wrongdoings, and especially for your wrongbeings. You will eventually find that existence is perfect exactly as it is. We only suffer because we allow ourselves to do so.
I wish you luck on your own shameless journey of self acceptance.