Thursday, April 2, 2020 - Shame, empathy and love



I can't watch the media reports anymore. Dan and I watch one video report from a London doctor, Dr. Andy Thompson, each day. I now limit the pings and notifications I pay attention to.


This time of isolation has been bringing up old thoughts and feelings that need to be named and let go.


Many spiritual leaders that inspire me have been talking about grief. They talk about the grief the world is experiencing through the loss of connection and basically the loss of how our lives used to be, because things can't be the same. We will never go back to the way things were.


I've been meditating and wise mentors have been holding space for me as I work through what is coming up that needs to be healed.


I've written a lot about the death of my mom. We had a complex relationship. Despite it having been 5 years since she passed, I still have some hangover emotions.


It's been hard for me to find meaning in my mom's death. Her words and actions were often hurtful and left lasting wounds.


I have felt a great deal of shame in my life; shame in not creating better boundaries with partners, managers and people in general. I allowed behaviour that I would never let a friend accept. And I numbed the signals my body and mind would send me. And I have felt terrible about myself because of it.


Yesterday, I listened to that podcast about grief again; the one with Brene Brown and David Kessler (from her podcast, Unlocking Us).


One incident keeps coming up in my memory that my mom said to me. I was in my early twenties and a guy had just broken up with me. I told my mom about it, heartbroken at the time. She said to me, "Couldn't you just be a bit more needy?" This has stuck with me my whole life. I was stunned. At that time in my life, I wanted to be ANYTHING but needy; needy like her.


But something profound happened after my wise mentor held space with me for a long conversation to sort through feelings and anxiousness. I woke up the next morning thinking about how much shame my mom must have had in order to tell her daughter that. How much pain and shame had SHE lived with? Maybe I was just carrying HER shame. I immediately had empathy for her then, and my judgement of her softened. I finally got outside of my own pain.


Maybe the shame we all carry can be healed with love and empathy.


My television time has been very limited but last night I watched a movie called There's Something in the Water. I urge you to watch. It's a terrifying account of the injustices done to indigenous and African Canadian communities, specifically in Nova Scotia. Actor, Ellen Page narrates and helps film the documentary.


Watching it, I couldn't help but wonder if this time in history is for us to heal the wounds we've inflicted on others, the shame we have brought THEM.


Maybe the shame the world is carrying can be healed with love and empathy too.


Only then, can we begin to heal.

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© 2019 Shauna M Rae