I am so easily and willingly choosing shame as a default for just about any difficult or uncomfortable thing that happens. I gather my courage to do something new, take a risk of some minor nature and on the rare occasions when nothing bad happens, I am so relieved that no negative consequences follow.
Risk taking, as a part of accepting responsibility for my mental illness, was one of the foundation skills on which I focused at the training earlier this month. Taking risks is hard for most people, but that is only a guess because I am not a member of that population. I think, most days, that I would like to be a member there, but that just ain't gonna happen. My mental illness sometimes isolates me in ways beyond my control. It is not that I am more comfortable in the company of other ill people, it is my awareness of how differently I might react to all of the normal aspects of interactions, all that perilous face-to-face stuff. Landmines and grenades litter my landscape
But, back to shame. Criticism knocks the beans out of me every time. I recover more quickly these days, but...but...but, no matter how much work I do in this area, no matter how benignly it is expressed, no matter how clearly I can see that taking the risk in the first place was a supremely stupid idea, I feel the sting of having failed in what I wanted to do, having failed in my intent. And, I shame spiral.
I started using shame spiraling to describe this process decades ago and only learned that it is an actual and valid term. I know, because I Google-d it yesterday. Good thing, as I took a risk yesterday and was rewarded with a chastisement for it this morning. It is not as though what I tried was bad in any way; it was not. And, it is not as though I know the person all that well, which I do not. I do not even care that she felt the need to slap me down a bit. I most especially do not care that she chose to do it in a slightly snarky way, you know, that subtle sarcastic, 'oh, I'm only mentioning this to help you' way.
All right, I do care. I care a lot. And, I accept the entire responsibility for feeling this way. I took the risk, knowing that it was risky, knowing that I would most likely have someone who thought what I shared (it is a free on-line product, if that matters) was stupid.
More importantly, I took that risk with full knowledge and acceptance of the hazards of doing so, as an exercise in facing my fears about being dismissed or criticised. Yay, me.
My plan for today is to use my relatively quick recovery and the energy it produced to tackle more of the unpacking. I chose to add in some organizing yesterday and now have several boxes/bins of art stuff to which I can keep adding. It finally dawned on me that I was duplicating the effort by just shelving stuff without parsing it out somehow. The process is inelegant, but it is working, and I have a more than excellent chance of being able to find things when I need them.
I am slowly learning that shame is a completely appropriate feeling and response when it is earned by doing or saying something truly stupidalicious. Some day I hope to ratchet that down to simple embarrassment.
Shame is not appropriate when I use it to reinforce my feelings of inadequacy or to limit what I am willing to do. Or try. Or risk.
Large image wise, this is an equally large forward movement. An actual leap into the healing and recovery stratosphere. Yay, me.
On a less comfortable note, CoolCat has been vomiting more. He checks out just fine, physically, but I fear that he is still caught in the thrall of our experiences from the other life. His food issues are increasing; anytime his food bowl is not filled to the brim, he panics. All of his bodily functions are in working order, and I am glad for that, but the emotional vomiting is very distressing to me. I feel sorry for him and how he is suffering, but I am feeling sorry for myself as well. I do not have extra sheets to put on the bed when he spews in the middle of the night, or even when he manages to upchuck on the floor and I do not notice it until I get up in the morning and find myself flying ass over teakettle.
Petty, yes. Unloving, absolutely. CoolCat is only 14 years old, but that other life, how he was neglected by my ex after I fled has informed who both of us are today. I am going out today to buy a bunch of those cheap, flannel-backed tablecloths. I will put them over the bed and furniture whenever I leave. Just in case he is not long for this life, I will be spending more time with him, just hanging out, playing and grooming him. The grooming benefits both of us and there is never a time or moment when he will not become fully engaged in the brush and comb and me.
I think I might go and do just that right now. The tablecloths can wait until tomorrow.