Often, when I wake up at 3am, I have this feeling that something is wrong. Like I’ve done something wrong, and someone is going to find out about it and I’ll be in trouble. That’s what it feels like, like a kid afraid of getting in trouble. Afraid her parents will find out what she did. And then my mind starts to search, going over the day, trying to find the one thing or everything that I’m guilty of.
And I know this feeling goes way back and has to do with feeling shame about myself. But I don’t know the specifics. I know I spent most of my life hiding. Afraid to say how I really felt about things, because I wanted people to like me. Afraid to make my art, thinking it wasn’t good enough. Afraid to ask for what I wanted and needed in a 21 year marriage. Believing I was unworthy of the most basic needs and pleasures. Feeling that there was something deeply flawed inside of me, something I could never let anyone see, something that I had to hide. And not knowing what this flawed thing was, just feeling its weight, I would search for it. And, as I still do when I wake up at 3am , I would find it. Constantly changing, growing and evolving as I did. Sometimes it was something I said to someone, I was mean or thoughtless, or I forgot to put something back where it belonged. I had one glass of wine to many, or feared I would be caught in a lie. I spent too much money on dinner or a pair of shoes. I divorced my husband. I got angry and shouldn’t have. In my mind one wrong was not better or worse than another. They all fell into the same category, they all made me feel the same shame.
It was just a couple of weeks ago, after I had the massage where the images of the desert kept coming to me, that I realized I had done nothing wrong. That there was nothing inside of me that I needed to keep anyone from finding out. That the feeling of shame, of having done something wrong was just a feeling, not the truth.
Since spending time in the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona, I’ve always equated them with honesty. Their bare rocks and buttes and canyons, not covered with layers and layers of soil and plants, out in the open, visible and seen. The bare bones of the desert is the desert.
I see now that the antidote to shame is honesty. Saying the words, sharing the story. Instead of hiding, I’m saying this is me, with all my flaws and flowers. This is me as naked as the desert. Nowhere to hide. Nothing to hide. This is me.