shame and expectations [living life without expectations]


Have you ever been at a crossroads with a friend? Where you are sensing that the friendship just isn’t good for you and that it’s time to set it down and leave it behind?

I’ve been in that place a few times. I think I may be approaching it right now. And as I sat down to write my next post on expectations, I saw that the next topic on my list was about shame. And because I’m me, I found a connection between the two.

The famous “vulnerability TED” Brené Brown did a second TED talk called “Listening to Shame” and when I first made the list of topics to write about on living life without expectations, I wrote, from her talk, “Vulnerability is not weakness. It’s courage.” I’m not entirely sure I know what I was thinking when I connected it to the idea of living life without expectations, but I do know that right now, in my own life, there is significant shame connected to the expectations I have with the aforementioned friend.

This shame looks embarrassing. I picture it living in the corner of some room in my heart, all shriveled up and pathetic. Hiding from that side of me that wants, more than ever, to grab a shotgun and blow it up. But it’s also in there smirking, knowing that I won’t have the courage to do that, because every time I walk into that room it HURTS with every fiber of my being.

I stand at this crossroad, and one road is labeled “this is probably bad for you” and the other road says ‘I really love them and want them in my life.” I am feeling shame. I am remembering the times I was vulnerable and honest with them. I am remembering the times they promised something and how they didn’t come through, and I feel stupid for believing them. I am remembering the expectations I had that caused me disappointment. And I. am. ashamed.

Shame focuses not on the behavior (like guilt) but focuses on the self. I feel shame because of this friend, which means that I am ashamed of who I am. Honestly, if I can parse this, I am ashamed of who I am with them. Yikes. That’s a whole other post.

I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable with this friend and they let me down. I trusted them with some hard things, and the only return I get are a few text messages. (And a failure to acknowledge my birthday. I’m trying not to behave like a 12 year old here, but, alas, I am.)

I opened up myself to a person who I thought deserved it. And I am so very ashamed at just how wrong I was. Yes, I have expectations. I worry sometimes they are unfair to the other person. I’m also concerned that not having the rights ones are unfair to me.

“Vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage.” This statement of hers blows me away, but then I remember what courage looks like. Today, we are so fearful of people really seeing us that I believe the gutsiest thing you can do is to let someone in. But when rejection comes, that shame grows. It may still hide in the corner, but it gets bigger. It stands up straighter, gets a little bolder, and before you know it, it’s looking you right in the eye and saying, “You are not enough.”

Get me my shotgun.


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