Shame is not welcome here

Beautifully brokenOver Thanksgiving, we traveled to Florida to spend time with my side of the family. They are a wonderful, fun, crazy at times, group and we had an awesome time. It was a holiday, so it only made sense to bring a couple pieces of my nicer jewelry with me, including a bracelet with enormous sentimental value. Because of their value, I wore them on the plane both directions…I didn’t want them to get lost or taken from my luggage. Makes sense, right?

On the way home, we had an early flight and I took a little snooze when we got on the plane. Once I woke up, I settled in to watch The Proposal, which I honestly could watch 100 times. I love it and laugh every time. I casually reached down to feel my bracelet on my wrist…and felt…nothing.

The blood drained from my face as I started feeling more frantically and quickly realized it wasn’t there. I started shaking, thinking I might be sick, and panicked, I mean, really panicked. “I don’t know what to do,” is all I could say, over and over. I knew I’d double checked the clasp that morning. As I started to search, it was as though someone pushed play on the shame tape in my mind.

You don’t deserve nice things.

You can’t be trusted with nice things.

You’re not worth it.

You have disappointed your parents (who gave me the bracelet)

Over and over…

At the same time, I tried to override those thoughts, telling myself, “it’s just a thing,” but the voice in my head screamed that it was not.

I prayed, God please let me see where it is, let me focus.

Nothing. Still feeling sick, having torn apart my area in the middle seat, going through my bag, having my husband go through the bag, and my son for good measure, nothing. With nothing else to do, I returned to The Proposal, and wasn’t able to laugh at all the scenes I normally would, well, except one. Who wouldn’t laugh when they accidentally walk into each other, naked, and flip out. Again, funny every time.

About an hour before the flight ended, the window seat guy got up and I searched that area, nothing. My husband pulled his seat cushion off all the way and even though I’d felt behind mine, I did the same. And lying on a thin metal strip beneath the cushions, was my bracelet. It had broken. After thanking God for revealing it, I felt a flood of stress leave my body.

I thought then and think now about my initial reaction, shame storm that erupted in my head, louder than ever. Not the first time I’d heard those words in my mind and they started very quickly. Far more accessible than I would have thought. In coaching, we call that the gremlin voice. The voice that keeps you small, that plays on your fear, or things you’ve come to believe, that develops over the years. I thought I’d worked through it, but apparently not entirely. The truth is, some of those messages shape how I live my life today. I don’t feel comfortable buying many nice things, I don’t feel worth it. Disappointing anyone is a nightmare to me.

Sitting there on that plane, the voice made me feel stupid, careless, like I’d done something wrong.

But I hadn’t, and I wasn’t. Even if it had gotten lost, though I would have felt sick, it didn’t mean I was stupid, or that I couldn’t be trusted with nice things, or was a bad person. It just meant it had gotten lost, I would have still been sad, but not worthless.

How do we get to that truth in the middle of the megaphone blast in our heads? That is the trick. Prayer, breathing, telling yourself the truth. Knowing that a mistake doesn’t make us a bad person, doesn’t define our worth. Knowing that I am not alone, particularly among women, in going to this dark place at times makes me want to embrace others with these words of truth.

You are worthy

You deserve happiness and joy – and nice things

You are not a disappointment

Believe it my friend. Stop the shame tape, it is not true. You are beautiful, you are loved and you are brave.

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