I felt real shame when I had to admit, once and for all, I was a single mum. It felt shameful, it felt ‘less’, it felt lonely and it felt like I was no longer part of that ‘tribe’ of successfully married women in my family and in my group. People will try and shame you if you are out-with their social norms or grouping, it’s the law of the jungle really. It can be subtle (invites stop to couples dinners, ‘that’ tilted head ‘ oh poor you’ look from the smug married friend who suddenly has a ‘perfect’ husband) to full blown ostracism of calls unreturned, emails unanswered, catty comments and friendships ending totally.
I think a lot of it was self imposed as I was no doubt guilty of some of the above for many different, immature reasons in my life. In my head I fought the shame hard, even if no-one but me was making me feel it. How to work your way OUT of this feeling, it may of course come and go but a strategy to lessen that heavy insidious cloud of shame, an emotional umbrella for you will help.
Try this -
HONOUR - the quality of knowing and doing what is morally right.
It’s the counterbalance to SHAME.
My mantra of this time was GRACE, GRACE, GRACE
I tried to handle all situations with the most amount of grace I could to be the best example you can for your children, for yourself and for your future self. Okay it did not always work when the screaming harpie came to call after a rough night of a teething baby and the ex wanted a bit more than I could give of my patience or my children. It got me through a few things as I just knew that to honour myself and my two little developing spirits in my care, required grace.
Deep breaths, what is right in this situation, what is the next BEST step? It might not always have been what I wanted to do, right there, right now. Hell I did not want to be FAIR, calm or honest but would I want to look my kids in the eye in 5, 10, 30 years and say ‘yes, I tried, I did it with as much grace as I could muster for you, for me’ Would they find themselves in a similar challenging situation and something in their dna, nurtured or natured that whispered ‘have grace, breathe, keep your head held high and do the right thing’ God I hoped so but it was playing the long game really with a short fuse.
There may have been an element of well aren’t I the perfect, bigger person but somehow just trying it, whatever the intention, it came from, made me make a few better decisions based on what was going to make me happy, deep down, and not just being ‘right’.
What fills you with HONOUR? What makes you feel honourable?
Is there a word you can return to when you feel shame? Can you find an image that works – I often held my head high like an African queen. What would Beyonce do? What would Maya Angelou do? What would Taylor swift do? Shake it off? RISE…. To the best self you can find TODAY…
Grace, love, calm, integrity, authenticity, ?... Find your Honour mantra and work it baby!