“It’s a shame,” she said when I had the guts to tell her I was getting a divorce. “Yeah, well, not for me,” I replied. And for anyone else thinking my divorce is or should be a shame for me, I ask you to rethink your unconscious response to something that’s quite the opposite. For me, this divorce is an act of love, empowerment and freedom. And there’s no shame in seeking these things out for myself, and/or my family.
From Google: Shame: a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
From Merriam-Webster: Shame: a feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong.
Considering these definitions of shame, I ask you, what exactly have I done wrong that I should be shrouding myself in shame?
Right…nothing. The behavior: not wrong, bad or foolish. On the contrary, the behavior I’ve had to exhibit the last several months has been conscious, vulnerable and courageous. Period.
Please do not try to throw your wet, old fashioned blanket of shame on top of me. It’s too heavy and right now, I’m trying to fly. Please, pause before you react to someone who’s just divulged their personal story to you. Think and breathe before you label them. Keep an open mind and an open heart to what you’re hearing. Do not judge, unless you happen to have been in their shoes, and even then, don’t judge.
I’ve worked a lifetime to shed the soul-rotting effects of shame. I’m still triggered, I admit. It’s difficult to not be – those wounds are core wounds, deep and penetrating. Cleaning them out is kind of like a bad root canal, if you don’t get all the infected tissue out, you’re going to have to deal with it again and again. And it’s torture.
In the six months I’ve been writing about and responding to the people around me about this, this was the first time I heard, “It’s a shame.” It surprised me. I had heard several, “Congratulations,” and many “I’m sorry’s.”I have to say, out of all the possible responses, I like congratulations the best. Congratulations to me says, “Congratulations for being brave enough to not settle for less than what you really want and deserve in a relationship,” “Congratulations for being brave enough to actually take action through the paralyzing effects of fear,” “Congratulations for being brave enough to know it wasn’t going to change and that you’re doing something healthy for you, him and your children.”
Why can’t people begin to see that divorce is sometimes a grand act of bravery? There are many reasons, I’m sure, that people believe it’s a shame. We were conditioned to believe this for cultural, religious and other “This is right, and this is wrong” reasons. Today I’m up for redefining it.
Who’s with me?
This article previously appeared on Laura’s website.