This is where I grew up. When I was a preteen and an adolescent, the trailer wasn’t so grungy. But the trees weren’t so lush and green either. That shed in the background is where I raised fifty baby pheasant from egg to adulthood, and later two young raccoons. It would also eventually become an aviary for my collection of wild birds. Yes, I loved animals (still do!).
It was actually a point of contention between my dad and me. He was hostile to life, preferring the cold comfort of his large gun collection. Mine was not a happy childhood as you might guess. Being poor was only a small part of the pain. If my dad had been safe and sane, the lack of money would not have been such a big deal. But he could be warm and loving one minute and cruel and terrifying the next. The worst part about growing up with a mentally ill parent is trying to make sense of their erratic behavior all the while believing that if you could just stop pissing them off, everything would be fine.
But that’s a pipe dream. Mentally and emotionally imbalanced people will always find a “reason” to punish you.
All these years later, I am grateful to have left the insanity of my childhood behind and to have found so much healing along the way. Therapy, coaching, support groups, 12 step recovery and even self-help books have all played an essential role in my journey. And today, I have the privilege of helping my clients move past blocks to their happiness. Sometimes my clients are dealing with some very heavy shit. And other times their problems are pretty mild. But one thing they all count on is the fact that I am The Shame Free Zone. I don’t judge them and if they want to do better in the future, I am so there! To me, life is all about second, third, fourth, fifth . . . chances. As long as the desire to change is sincere and you are doing your best, there is no reason to feel bad about yourself.
I believe positive change can only come about when we are moving past the shame and taking responsibility for the consequences of our actions. In fact, it is through the process of making amends for our part, that we heal our shame.
Another way to heal shame is to share our stories with others. As you will discover in this interview, I share a lot. Without shame.