I got the opportunity to dance with an unpleasant situation.
Shocking, I know.
The details don't matter much and the wide brushstrokes are that either there was a big dose of miscommunication between the other two parties involved, or someone, in an effort to cover their butt, threw me under the bus. Having done just a bit of questioning I see the latter as more likely.
Feeling myself vulnerable to confusion, I did a quick "What Do I Know For Sure?" scan and came up with this: I know for sure that what is being told is not true. This was a good place to stand, like a sturdy sandbar in the middle of a wobbly sea. That brought me peace and with peace came the ability to mostly let go. My own basket was clean and I could begin to release whatever was going on in the other people's baskets.
Until I needed to find myself in the same place and at the same time as the person who most likely created the self-serving story.
Oooooo. I did not like that. Basket or no basket, I watched my mind do a few pirouettes to avoid the situation.
I could go later.
Except I couldn't.
I could pretend to be on the phone as I walked in to avoid any conversation.
The more pirouettes I invented, the more my tummy felt a subtle but familiar weight. I KNEW this. I knew this thing I was trying to do. I had done it before. What was it?
I got still and went to visit that feeling. I talked to it. I know you. I know you from a long time ago. Who are you?
Instant response: Shame. I am Shame. And more specifically, I am your childhood response to Shame. You're right, you know me well.
Whew. That felt sickening. And as the seconds passed and I stayed with the nausea of it all, that also felt good also because guess what? I am no longer a child.
I am no longer a child and I have grown and learned and lived enough to know that:
1) Someone else's ugly actions are not mine to feel ashamed of.
2) Walking through that door will not kill me.
That second point probably feels dramatic to read, just as it felt dramatic to write. But it is the most accurate way for me to express it. The most honest way. Because that's how it felt: that walking into the place where someone had wronged me could end my life. Some of you will get it.
The physical remembering was still there. The mis-attributed shame, the fear. I could feel them both.
But I could also feel the years, even see them on my face. I could feel the safety of being a grown-up, of knowing for sure that I had done nothing wrong, of knowing for sure that walking through that door would not kill me.
So I did.
My inner 7-year-old and I walked through the door holding hands. We did not act overly, compensatingly friendly, we did not placate. We said hello and we did not stay long, just long enough to take care of what needed to be taken care of. We took care of ourselves.
We did not feel ashamed. We did not feel ashamed on behalf of someone else's actions.
Again, some of you will know exactly what I mean and know, just as I do, what a healing big deal this was. An invitation accepted, an opportunity to be grateful for what the years have given us, traded us.
For those of you who don't know what I mean, I tenderly envy you while am grateful that this is not something you recognize.
Shame is slippery and contagious and sneaky. Giving it its own container and making sure it stays there is something we can now do for ourselves.
And when we do, it feels amazingly good.
Someone else's ugly actions are not ours to feel ashamed of.
In Happiness School, I share with you ALL the tools from my very own toolbox. in 90 days, you will learn to adapt with less pain, more excitement - and more magic.