S is for Shame-Less
By Amy Ferris
I can now list my shame alphabetically.
A is for abortion(s), B is for bad, bad boyfriends, C is for countless nights waiting for the phone to ring and cigarettes, D is for drugs...
And on and on and on...
When Hollye and I ventured out in the world - the publishing world - with our anthology, Dancing at The Shame Prom, we both knew the essays we were going to contribute for the book. We had talked, and talked, and shared and talked some more. Both of us are straight forward in terms of speaking and writing our truth. It's become our individual and collective mantra: Speak the truth, write/right your life.
We both write blogs about writing and living our truth.
We don't hold back.
It's not in our nature. And since Hollye and I are great at talking through life issues, the more we talked, the more at ease, more comfortable I was with putting my shame - my personal shame essay - out in the world.
But what happened after the book came out in the world was unexpected.
A whole new wave - a tsunami - of shame manifested.
It was like an infestation of shame starting with A.
I started remembering every little single detail of every single 'bad, awful, unpleasant, horrifying, embarrassing thing" I ever did, said, and yes, thought. I wanted to hide in a corner, stay in bed, change my phone number, and yes, even run away. Like far away where no one knew me, and I could wipe my past away with the stroke of a Bounty paper-towel.
It was as if writing about one shameful experience sparked all and every shameful experiences I ever encountered. The cork was out of the bottle. I remembered guys I slept with whose names I didn't know, I remembered the lies I told my mom, I remembered driving without a driver's license and getting into an accident, I remembered dying my hair vermillion, and shaving my eyebrows. I remembered the boy I loved madly and passionately who didn't even know I existed.
A floodgate opened.
And then I was filled with more shame.
Buckets of shame.
But, Hollye and I have a huge desire and goal.
We want to wipe shame off the planet.
We want girls and boys, men and women to awaken to their greatness.
We want folks to shed the coat of misguided personal beliefs that keep them small, keep them from being intimate.
We want this book, this anthology to open hearts and create dialogue.
We want women to stand tall, be proud, wear their imperfectly perfect lives with joy and hope and unlimited self-esteem.
We want folks to know that every single god awful mistake can be transformed into a mighty powerful mission.
We want regrets and worry and fear and self-loathing to go the way of dial-up connections.
We want every single human being to know that what drives us, motivates us, clings to us... is love.
And just like that tsunami of shame took over, there was a moment of understanding, an epiphany of sorts. I knew with every fiber in my being that every single shameful thing I ever did, or believed I did, or felt I did, was because I wanted to be loved.
Wanted to feel important.
Wanted to be noticed.
A calm after the tsunami.
And just like that I started loving me, imperfectly perfect me, just a bit more.
Author. Writer. Girl.
Book: Dancing at The Shame Prom, sharing the stories that kept us small - Anthology, Seal Press (2012)
Co-edited by Amy Ferris & Hollye Dexter
Book: Marrying George Clooney, Confessions From A Midlife Crisis,Seal Press (2010)