In Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories That Kept Us Small, 27 women come together to share their truths through transformative accounts of their path into, and out of, shame. (Merriam Webster defines “shame” as “a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety.”)
While sometimes sympathetically painful to read (stories #8 and #22 cover child molestation; #4 has dogs run over) each story is ultimately worth it.
These courageous authors (who used their real names while publicly displaying their darkest secrets) empowered me to become unafraid when examining the shrouded moments of my life.
Shame comes in many forms but in the end it’s the same: we experience something that makes us unworthy of everybody else. We try to fix it, hide it, or compensate for it. These moments, or series of events, can be labeled “me” and we endeavor to become someone else to ease the pain.
Instead the shame becomes a “slumbering-with-one-eye-open” monster, eager to remind us that we are not worthy, that nothing we accomplish will ever be enough, that we cannot make up for what we are not, and for what it is impossible for us to become.
Many authors shared childhood moments, when their perception of life was limited by their experience, by what they were allowed to know, and the framework in which they could decipher that knowledge. It was enlightening to see how childhood impressions, unchanged by the passage of time, could affect someone many years later.
As children, we desire to be admired, to belong, to be loved. As adults, we seek to discover who we are as separate from that; to belong within ourselves, to love and cherish ourselves for who we are and not for who we wish we could grow up to be.