Poisonous Shame

One of my least favorite personal traits is not always being able to fall down, get up, brush it off and keep moving. When I fail at personal tasks that affect other people – even tiny failures, like forgetting to call a friend at a previously set time – for days afterward I’m consumed with guilt that if only I had tried harder, been a better person, I could have saved everyone the inconvenience. Inconvenience of what, exactly? Being my friend? Having to suffer through knowing me? I’m not sure. It makes my heart hurt to think of all the ways that I could be a better person towards those I love, and on days like today, when my stupidity is playing on repeat in the background of my memory, I just feel sorry that you all have to deal with me.

Simultaneously, however, there’s another thought that keeps rising to the surface. How many people have proven their worth to ME? A handful of you. You know who you are. But only a handful. The rest have been much worse at this game than I seem to be. It gives me hope that maybe I am doing something right, even if I do screw up from time to time. It makes me think that maybe I’m one of the good ones, and maybe in some small degree, my shame is a symptom of that. It makes me regret my humanity less. Not enough to make me feel any less guilty, of course – I ache to be able to take back so many of my actions in life – but enough for me to realize that tomorrow I’ll most likely be OK. I’ll be able to file away the sadness of today and keep moving forward towards doing the right thing next time.

Oh, next time. Ugh.

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