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Keys That Unlock the Chains

“You either walk inside your story and own it… or you stand outside your story & hustle for your worthiness

Brene Brown

The culture I grew up in during the 60’s was a culture of the post WWII baby boom. Everyone was building homes, buying cars, consuming, consuming, consuming. The “Greatest Generation” was seeking to have the things that they had lived without during the Depression years and they were seeing to it that their children would not want for anything.

During that decade, I made the discovery, not many years into my life; that I was born into a lower middle class family on the outskirts of town. A lot of my friends had new cars but we had a 1956 Oldsmobile. Their cars were new and sleek and had power windows; ours was black and clunky and had the old manual handle to roll down the windows. Comparison became my greatest enemy! I was so ashamed that we were not as well off as other families, that I would practice rolling down the back window of that 56 Oldsmobile in such a way as to make it look like it had power windows! (it was all in the wrist!)

Shame became such a tyrant over my life, that even though our family ancestry was Latin, (Hispanic and Portuguese) that I was secretly happy that I looked more like my mother with fairer skin and light blonde hair. Isn’t that horrible?!It got worse as I grew older. Not only did I feel vulnerable due to my ethnicity, but it became obvious to me that I was not the sharpest tool in the shed when it came to learning.

I put on layer after layer of defensive clothing in the form of cheating on tests, stealing other kids’ homework, pretending I was sick, and lying about the dog eating my homework that I became enslaved to patterns of behavior that would lead me down very dark paths. All of this, because I was ashamed of something I had no control over, and which: was only a big deal to ME! When we speculate about what others think of us, we place shackles on our own wrists and ankles. We imagine shadowy figures coming in and out of the woods of our lives…and we don’t want anyone to venture in!

In retrospect, after over 40 years I discovered I had friends I thought were really rich, who I later learned had grown up in a mobile home, (a trailer park) and that they” had worked REALLY hard to portray themselves as something they were not!”* (*their words not mine). The more we cloak our vulnerabilities in secrecy, the more power our shame has over us. One of my favorite authors, Brene Brown; a shame and vulnerability researcher, says in her book Daring Greatly

“Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection”.

We tend to applaud people who stand and admit their failings in life. Think about it…aren’t you inspired when you read about someone who overcame a dark, ugly thing in their lives and shared it out loud now that they had found the way out? Of course you are! So am I! When THEY do it…it is inspiring and heroic! But if YOU did it…it would be humiliating and appear as WEAKNESS…right? Why is that?

Most of us would not be willing to show our soft underbellies; and admit to others how we had become addicted to porn, or alcohol, or vanity. It is secrecy that gives shame it’s power over our lives! 

Listen to me…, let me tell you a little secret… I had such an INFLATED OPINION of myself, that when I tore my hamstring in college during gymnastics warmups, I lost my scholarship and was forced to leave I.U. after two semesters because I couldn’t afford to go back to school! I was so embarrassed about it that I MOVED OUT OF MY HOMETOWN FOR 32 YEARS!!! I imagined that all of my High School friends would judge me as a failure. I went to NO high school reunions, NO get togethers until much, much later. SHAME covered me like a smelly, wet blanket.

But here is what I have discovered. Again, Brene Brown says,

“You either walk inside your story and own it… or you stand outside your story & hustle for your worthiness

Of course, there is a proper time and place for everything. Sometimes sharing something about your life, without the proper timing and healing, can actually damage people…especially those close to you. However, I have discovered that as I remove the layers of protective shell that I wrapped myself in and begin to share the former areas of shame in my life out of a healthy healed place, …PEOPLE GET SET FREE!

It’s not that I have anything to prove by doing this. Truth and courage are not always comfortable, but THEY ARE NOT WEAKNESS! I own my story, and the best part of that story is that Jesus set me free from self- judgment, and the judgments of others. I AM growing something called “Shame Resilience”

Again, Brown states,

“Shame resilience is the ability to say,

“This hurts. This is disappointing, maybe even devastating. But success and recognition and approval are not the values that drive me. My value is courage and I was just courageous. You can move on, shame.”

The more healed we become, the greater our vulnerability, the more we expose our areas of shame to the light and we discover new power and freedom! I invite you to be set free my friends.

A few years ago I wrote a poem inspired by Brene Brown’s book “The Gifts of Imperfection:

Cracks By Doug Pacheco

“There are cracks in the china

There are cracks in the vases,

There are cracks in persona’s and lines on our faces.

There are cracks that leak water

But I think you’ll agree,

That the cracks we hate most are the ones others see.

And we putty, and mortar these cracks that we find

And we hope that by hiding the cracks we will blind,

the perception we’re weak or as needy or broken,

An attempt to escape the world’s judgments unspoken.

‘Cause we all have a need to be loved and belong,

so we hide all our faults as though nothing is wrong,

But our cracks and our frailties instead of reproach,

Can make us much easier for friends to approach.

For our lives are imperfect,

We know it innately,

And that none were born noble, or perfect or stately.

And the more we’re authentic,

And allow their inspection,

The more all the cracks

start to look like perfection.”

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