“Where perfectionism exists, shame is always lurking.”
Today, one of my biggest shame monsters came out to play. I have a lot of these assholes (don’t we all?) in a variety of shapes and sizes, colors and temperaments, but since becoming a parent this particular shame monster has become increasingly vicious.
Species: Monstrum (monster), Family: Vercundia (shame), Genus: Tardus (late/tardy).
I hate being late. Even a few minutes turns me into a screaming monster in my own right. It’s something I constantly work on, something I thought I had pretty well under control, yet here I am, yelling again, making my child cry on the way into school. All for being a scant few minutes behind schedule.
And because shame monsters breed like rabbits in the outback, a different, quieter monster has appeared, Shadowy on my shoulder it whispers all its favorite nasty, shameful things:
“You’re a shit mom. You should never have had kids. You’re ruining them. They’ll never forgive you.”
And overseeing all these monsters is the big one. The meanest, nastiest, most insidious monster of them all. Perfectionism. Perfectionism controls all these monsters and, in turn, controls me. Perfectionism telling me I’m never going to measure up. Never be good enough or organized enough or on top of it (whatever “it” is) enough. But like the monsters of childhood, the nightmare bringers with their fangs and claws, these shame monsters can’t survive the light. So here is the light, as I have learned to embrace it.
Light is acknowledging the monsters without inviting them to stay. I see you. I hear what you’re saying. And now it’s time for you to go. This is not your home, this is not even your part time residency or vacation home. You have made your point and now you need to return to the darkness where you belong.
Light is staying curious about how you got to this point. Shame doesn’t happen in a void; there are always many contributing factors. Are you tired? Stressed? Hungry? These aren’t excuses, but they may be able to help you better understand the why (and the how to better handle it a different time).
Light is talking to others. It’s getting support and empathy from those you love and care about. Light is being reminded you are a whole, worthwhile human being whose flaws are only a very small portion of your being.
Light is making amends, explaining to the ones you hurt that you understand the pain you’ve caused. That you were acting from a place of shame and that while you can’t change the past you are committed to battling your shame monsters in the future.
Light is giving yourself grace. As the ever wise Brene Brown said, “Grace means that all your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame.”
Today the shame monsters came to play, but shining a light on them will always vanquish them. Live in light today, my friends. Live in light.