Regret and Shame

Many of us started out on our path in life ill-equipped completely unaware of the problems in life we would encounter, let alone how to navigate them when they arose. We did the best we could with what we had and experienced it may very well have not been enough.

Now we might be stuck in the looping pattern of rehashing the past, recriminating ourselves with a barrage of what we SHOULD have done, but didn’t. So, we hang our heads in shame from the heaping mounds of evidence we hold against ourselves. Or, we feel resentment building in our hearts and get angry how unfair life has been becoming more and more cynical how impossible it is to have the power to have life be different.

We find ourselves living our life from the energies of anger, guilt, shame and depression, oscillating between these states feels impotent.

Personally, I started out my young adult life very ill-equipped. I was a very young wife and mother, at the age of 18. I remember my mom saying something about, “You’re going to move in and have a barbie-doll dream house.” The only barbie-doll dream house I knew wasn’t that fabulous. White picket fences, a happily-ever-after marriage, and well-mannered children are not what I ended up with either.

There are so many things we are not aware of when we start out. Hopefully along the way we find others that are willing to walk alongside of us to support our learning.

I remember moving far away from home, we lived in Washington, and I think I was 21 when we moved down to Texas. That was a lot different place than Washington. In Washington I grew up in the country and it was a whole different culture. When we moved down to Texas it was in the heart of San Antonio, and there was a Dirty Sally’s right across the street from the apartment, and it was scary to me! I’m not saying that San Antonio is full of places like that, yet there are places like that and when you are young and you have not been exposed to many things in life you don’t know, or I didn’t know, how to be with it.

When you are far away from what you are familiar with, and you are doing your best to find your way, in my experience I was trusting of others. In that innocent naivety, I got caught up in whatever others were doing. Which wasn’t life serving for a young wife and mother, and I learned some hard knocks along the way.

The regrets that I hold and have held and the shame that has done its best to take me out, was mostly around how I showed up as a young mother. Because, I love my kids, I love children and I always have. When we find ourselves in a situation where we’ve dropped our needs or ignored the needs of our child, that can be debilitating to find our way back to forgive ourselves. To slow time down and to understand what might have been going on for us in our youth. To find ways to let grace start to come in, some warmth of understanding and acknowledgement around your own developmental curves.

From time to time a memory will pop up and I will cringe. What I’m practicing doing is slowing down to be with that inner experience. To bring in my adult compassionate self now, my grandmother self, to acknowledge my youth, my inexperience and my lack of education around the importance of developing secure attachment. Or even finding ways to have it for myself and noticing what it’s like in my body when that happens.

For years what kept me stuck? I found myself disillusioned by my life experiences and beat myself up with admonishments such as; “You’re such a loser. I can’t believe you did that! There is no forgiveness for you. How could anyone be so dumb. You are worthless.”

I huddled in the darkness of my own inner prison. Suffering in silence. Others of us rage through our life daring anyone to EVER try to take advantage of us again! Suffering, none the less.

In my life I have discovered it is possible to experience life empowered and wide awake, while still holding your impossible dream of what yet is to emerge tenderly, deep in your heart. Impossible dreams are rich with empowerment and freedom when they are grounded in Truth and anchored in your sacred values.

What can our new perception begin to be? We can begin to listen deeply to our inner chatter, and sit patiently with our pain, with kindness and warmth. It’s possible to receive understanding and grace from our warm inner Light. We can be empowered to sit with our inner experience of pain acknowledging how it feels to have this human experience. We can name the needs that were unmet in our youth, and allow ourselves to mourn with accompaniment to process learning these life lessons.

What skills do we need to develop to move forward? To notice our inner chatter and learn what lies underneath the pain. To trust Life is for us, rather than against us. To expand our window of welcome for uncomfortable emotions, and to develop a language to name what we value and honor in life.

Are you ready to live your life empowered and wide-awake? You might begin by paying attention to what you tell yourself. Recognize which emotions you find uncomfortable to be with, and as you do, name them, and then notice what happens within you. This will begin to expand your window of welcome.

Life can only appear to be against you when you are being someone whom you are not.


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