Scorn the Shame
I was so ashamed. No one was victimizing me, I just couldn’t do what I needed to do at that time. The reasons didn’t matter when the bar I set was beyond my reach. There was a simple solution but I couldn’t see it, behind the cloud of shame. I needed to reach out for help. In this case seeing beyond the fog included letting go of the pride that tries to hide the shame of failing. I must scorn the shame, becoming mindful that failure is not an end in itself if I can gain wisdom and act accordingly.
Sometimes the fog of shame is delivered in a more heinous manner. Behind the scenes where no one else can see, a person is treated in a way that breaks their heart. Abused, mistreated, lied about, even betrayed by their own body. They aren’t given a visible scarlet letter like Hester Prynne, but feel as if their pain is visible to the world. How much we disdain the look of pain in the “You’re ok, I’m ok” culture. That person has been altered. Their original path is marked with a turning point. In this case, it’s not just stubborn ego that darkens the path, it’s undeserved pain. Confusion. Unearned feelings of fault.
Support groups are so valuable in this case. Listening to others who have experienced a similar path and all the confusing emotions that come with it are vital. They say, “Yes, I feel that way too,” but we are not “that” way. We endure and help each other scorn the shame of it all.
In his poem on honesty, David Whyte writes, “Where we cannot go in our mind, our memory, or our body is where we cannot be straight with another, with the world, or with our self.”
Enduring and scorning. Part of being human is learning this double art. I know of no life that hasn’t dealt with evil or with tragedy or with its own blind stupidity. Scorning is despising and ignoring the shame. It is not holding yourself in contempt because of how another might view you or your situation.
The singer laments for change from another, “Why do you use me, try to confuse me, How can you stand, to be so cruel, Why don’t you free me, from this prison, Where I serve my time as your fool?” (It’s a shame, The Spinners).
Understandable, and probably necessary, so as not to take on another’s fault as our own. But, it is just a step on the path. No matter what anyone else thinks or says, each of us must do our own living. The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer reminds us,
“What a person is for himself, what abides with him in his loneliness and isolation, and what no one can give or take away from him, this is obviously more essential for him than everything that he possesses or what he may be in the eyes of others.”
I’ve been thinking of Jesus who said, “Pick up your cross…”. I take it as; bear what your life has brought you to bear. Don’t let it take your life from you. Then he went to endure a final cross, but scorned it’s shame as he did so.
“…Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”