We all know this little snippet and it makes us laugh when we see it, but shame is real. It is a painful emotion to carry. This isn’t even close to embarrassment. Embarrassment passes quickly. It’s a fart at a party. It’s walking in on someone in the bathroom and backing out quickly. These are silly little moments that you laugh about with your friends.
Shame is a deep cut. It’s harsh. It isn’t easily forgotten by you or others it has influenced. Shame can cause physical reactions, like deep blushing, and a stomachache when in public because you feel you are being judge by everyone walking by. It is an emotion that is difficult to conceal.
Not everyone carries this weight. I do. To this day I cringe at things I have done in the past. Certain days on the calendar give me a stomachache. We are talking about things that have happened over a decade or more ago. Now, I am not riddle with guilt like I use to be. It’s just random moments that catch me off guard. That is the weight of shame.
Some cultures can put more value on simple things causing shame easily. Like, weight. Some cultures see being overweight as shameful. They can withhold food and force a person to endure extreme workouts. If a woman is overweight, it can be much worse.
No matter how carefully we live our lives we have all had a moment of shame. Have you ever cheated on a test and got caught? Have you ever been sent to rehab? Have you ever totaled your car while drunk and needed a lift home? These are examples of shameful moments. At some point we have all felt worthless.
Writing this is as easy as laying that feeling on the page. “Shame is like wearing a cloak of darkness while under a burning spotlight.” – me. When you write this remember this is not a fleeting feeling. It is not embarrassment. Dig deeper. Shame is an emotion you carry with you forever. You can always offer a glimmer of hope but describe the struggle to get there.
Be careful when describing shame physically. Shame isn’t simply blushing. It steals your breath and brings you to your knees. It isn’t, “Oh my.” It’s, “Oh My God!” Shame is excruciating pain. It is deep regret. It’s those things you do not openly show your friends. This is a kid not wanting to invite friends over because they live in a busted trailer and have no food to offer as a snack. It’s looking over your shoulder to make sure no one you know saw you walking into the food pantry in town.
Think on this. Feel the feelings you have held in the past. Remember those cringe worthy moments. Now put it on the page. Bleed, cry, and whimper at the emotions leaking through your pen. If you write it but don’t physically respond to it, then you need to add more. Cut deeper. Cry harder.
- Write a scene where your character wrecked their car while drunk. But the driver of the other car was harmed. Dig deep to build the emotion of shame at harming another because they drove drunk.
- Pick a shame from childhood, then write a scene in which an adult character is haunted by it. (Being poor, living in a busted house, no food)
- Write a scene forgiving your character of a shame they carry. Example: The injured driver forgives the drunk driver. Take your character through and arc of emotional growth. Not only do they have to accept the forgiveness of another, but they must forgive themself as well.
Please remember that I am not trying to write this book for you word for word. I am skipping a lot of detail. I highly suggest you purchase the book and read between the lines.
Polish your sparkle and keep twirling.
Find joy. Be joy. Enjoy.
I’m always looking for new friends!
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