This weekend something happened. Something that I may or may not have blown out of proportion given the situation. The details of this something could make up a whole other blog post, but the bottom line is that my Husband went through something a few years ago and there was some lying and covering up. We got through it and things have been good since then. But, when I came home from work late on Friday night, I saw something that instantly made me suspicious that the problem was back. (To reassure you all: I’m not talking about an affair.)
He was already sleeping so I tried to leave it until morning, but I had a horrible sleep. My mind was racing and going from one “what if” scenario to the next. The biggest thought in my head: “I can’t handle this right now. I am barely getting by right now in my chronic state of burn-out. How can I deal with this now too?” When I woke up in the morning I was still devastated and I built up the courage to talk to him about my fears. While he didn’t deny that what I saw was indeed what I thought, he did his best to reassure me that it wasn’t a manifestation of this past problem. And while his “story” was completely plausible, it was just a little hard for me to believe given the past. He concluded by saying: “I was so worried all night that you would think this.” I didn’t know what to make of this.
I needed some time alone to just let the emotions run free. I went for a drive to get away from everything. For so long I’ve been functioning right at the peak of my stress curve. I’ve used up all my reserve and I just cried. In my car I cried.
It’s okay to be weak sometimes. I know that. It’s okay to say that you’re not doing okay… To admit that maybe, even for a moment, things are more than you can handle. But we are so used to being weak alone – hiding it from everyone else because we are ashamed that we can’t handle it. In my quest to conquer shame I have learned that it’s okay to show your weakness and vulnerability to other people; Reaching out to the appropriate people when you need to helps to eliminate shame and make room for empathy.
But in this moment, I wasn’t sure I could do it. Only two people ever knew about this problem when it first happened a few years ago. My close friend Heidelberg was my rock through it all the first time, but she no longer lives in my city and I knew she wasn’t accessible to me at the time. The other person: K. I was pregnant last time, she was my doctor, and I broke down in her office when it was so acute. I knew she probably wouldn’t remember it all, but I just couldn’t talk to anyone else – I promised my Husband to keep it between us.
As I sat there and cried, I thought of everything I’ve been trying to improve on in my life. I thought that maybe it was time, in my moment of difficulty and struggling that maybe I should reach out and ask for help, even if it is just to talk. So I did it. I texted her
“K, Sorry to bother you, but do you have 5 minutes to talk?”
She sent me her home phone number and told me to call.
And I did. And I cried to her. Not because the situation itself was difficult, but because on top of everything else, it just pushed me a little bit too far.
I think I remember telling her that I was sorry to bother her… that I had no one else to talk to… And she said it was okay (because why wouldn’t it be?) She just listened, she let me cry, she gave me some suggestions. Most importantly, she empathized, and in that moment I felt a little stronger. I hung up the phone and realized that everything would be okay. I was glad I reached out.
It didn’t take long, however, for the shame to set in. The words and the moments constantly replay over and over again in my head and with each repetition I feel more and more uncomfortable. I can’t believe I let her see my weakness. What does she think of me now? That was a stupid thing to do.
I know it’s the shame coming out and I know I have to beat it. I know I have to remember how much better I felt after talking it through. But I just can’t do it. Almost constantly I go back to that conversation in my car, and with every thought, I feel the discomfort grow. I want to take it back, I want to go back to beak weak and vulnerable all on my own.
I know it’s not logical. I know she doesn’t see it that way. Unfortunately, I can’t fully believe that now. I hate that I was weak and she saw it. I hate that I am always the one who need to rely on her.
And in this moment, I fear that the shame is beating me.
- Shame is a emotion you can use to triumph against defeat (embracetheuncertainty.wordpress.com)
- How Secrets Hold Us Back (revitalizingme.wordpress.com)
- Shame and Fat Shaming Week (esoterictrad.wordpress.com)
- Shame, Shame, #ShameLESS (inveritatefortitudo.wordpress.com)
- “Listening to Shame” via Brene Brown (strucknwords.com)