Self-pity and self-loathing are running rampant and crippling some of the most incredible people this world has to offer. For me, self loathing typically sprouts its evil soul-destroying tendrils in my heart when I’ve done something incredibly dumb and I’m petrified that someone else might find out. The shame for my foolish decisions sets into my abdomen like a cold frost, then eats away at my heart like ravenous honey badger. I become consumed with a genuine fear that the revelation of my secret will devistate the people in this world that I love the most.
So, I bury my past. I find a deep dark pit in my soul where I can bury my icky parts. I live alone with my secrets in this darkness.
Most of us who have endured the pain of self-loathing and shame do so in a state of emotional solitary confinement. We suffer in secret because of a fear of how the people we love will react when they learn who we truly are.
We turn the people we love into involuntary participants in our shame.
The day I realized this, I recognized how unfair this was to my loved ones, and to myself. I was spending hours wallowing in private misery over feelings and conversations that hadn’t - and may not ever come to pass.
With this new knowledge, self-love has become a process of learning to carefully expose the things I have hidden in the darkness to the light and love of others. As I’ve learned that I am capable of being loved and accepted by others, even while standing naked before them (metaphorically, of course) with my fears, doubts, and insecurities completely exposed, learning to love myself has become incredibly rewarding.
Conquering shame and self-pity and replacing it with self-love (just like any other form of love) starts with taking that giant leap into vulnerability.
That leap into vulnerability requires raw, unadulterated courage.
It requires staring your most personal demons in the face. It means the potential of causing pain and suffering to the people you love and yearn to protect.
You must invite your loved ones to be the heroes who can help you slay your demons rather than the chains that bind you to your emotional prison. You never know. They may just surprise you.
In the spirit of practicing what I preach, I’m offer you one of my vulnerabilities. Something that I’ve had stored up inside me for a long long time. It’s a secret that very few people know about me.
I’m currently going through a crisis of faith.
I was raised in a very religious household in a very religious community, and over the past few years have begun to experience doubts and feelings of estrangement from my life-long faith…
And I’m terrified.
I’m terrified that I’ll be judged and condemned. Terrified of the potential my doubt has to disappoint or insult my deeply devout family. Terrified that this will all but eradicate my chance of being a desirable spouse. Terrified of the possibility of eternal suffering caused by my choice to willingly stray from the path of a God I’ve always claimed to know, love, and follow.
I don’t know what this doubt means about me at my core as a person, or what it means about my future. I don’t know how it will affect my most cherished relationships. But I know that I can’t carry it alone.
So now you know. And now (if the people close to me read this, which they probably will) they know. It’s time for me to start shining a light into that darkness and falling in love with my icky parts.
I invite you to do the same.
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