A miracle happened this Monday morning.
I was driving to work and felt my belly and hips. Employing a coping strategy from treatment, rather than personalizing my thought, I observed it: “Hmm. I feel my belly and hips. I am noticing they are there.”
Then, I did the usual next thing. I reached over and pinched my side. I felt the extra skin and extra me that is now there where it wasn’t before. I observed it: “I feel this extra skin.”
Then, something totally miraculous happened. I thought, “I’m okay.”
Wow. I haven’t thought, “I’m okay” in a really long time. It felt good to think that I’m okay.
I started I Thought It Was Just Me by Dr. Brene Brown over the weekend. Everyone talks about Brene Brown. Most people love her; a few don’t. If you don’t know much about her, the research focus she has taken on regards shame. Not the most fun topic, and she admits it.
I have tried reading her books previously, but they always just felt like too much. I can’t take this on. I can’t grapple with my imperfections. It will take an hour to read each page, if I really want to let it sink in. I would rather read another book on eating disorder recovery or body image, preferably a memoir, thank you very much.
Yesterday, though, I started and couldn’t stop. Beyond the title, the sub-title is actually what hits home for me the most:
I Thought It was Just Me (But It Isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I am Enough”
That. That is the goal. To believe I am enough.
Shame resilience, a term Brown coined, is a powerful concept. I’ve been diving in the depths of shame my entire life, believing I am not worthy of love or acceptance. Me. As a person. Not my behaviors, but who I actually am. This is shame.
Shame resilience says, “I recognize that as shame, and I can move through it in an authentic way that allows me to grow from my experiences.”
When I feel the shame coming on, “I am disgusting. I am unlovable,” shame resilience responds, “I feel unlovable because of this extra me I’m carrying around. But I’m not unlovable. I have a husband who tells me everyday how much he loves me and is moving his life to Texas for me. I have a daughter who wants me with her all the time. I have a friend who is letting me live with her temporarily because we needed a space. This is being loved. I am lovable for who I am, not my body.”