It cuts somewhere deep inside when you think you have done your best and you look back and realize that a good deal of the time your “best” was pretty close to awful, for whatever reason.
In fact, one day you realize that you never even considered doing your best at all.
You just did what you did. Without thought or consequence – at least any thought or consequence that mattered.
You were too something – selfish, immature, negative, irresponsible, prideful, narcissistic, debaucherous, reactionary… and the list could go on.
The shame, guilt and humiliation follows you everyday. It is an oily, greasy shadow that taints everything. You hope it is invisible, but you are positive it is not – everyone is just polite enough to pretend to ignore it. But you can see the knowledge in their eyes.
So what do you do?
There are options. Always options.
You can let the past bleed on the future. You can carry the shame with you like an open sore for everyone to be horrified by. You can bend over backwards in an attempt to do the impossible – make up for the past. You can pretend that it does not bother you and it never crosses your mind. You can deny it happened. You can practice some revisionist history telling to redact all the bad bits. You can wallow in it. You can confess – over and over until no one wants to hear it anymore. You can wear it like a scarlet A. You can grown up.
But what does that even mean?
Is there such a thing?
How and when does it happen?
What does it feel like?
Where does it come from?
Why does it happen for others?
And why has it never happened to you?
You – the one who needs “it.”
It – wisdom, responsibility, pragmatism, truth, forgiveness, honor, respect, patience.
So you walk through your days wondering if people see you the way you do, and you pray to whatever may or may not be out there and in control of it all that they don’t.
You hope that one day the humiliation will dissipate. All the while sure that it won’t. There are too many witnesses, too many judgments, too many faults and too many mistakes.
Love may be what we need, what we crave, what we strive for –
But humiliation, well, that is what we have, what we fight, what we live with, what we struggle to overcome.
Originally written February 23, 2011