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  • Tiffany Marlink

Shame spirals and vulnerability hangovers

Over the past few months, I have been experiencing a lot of dreams. I'll lie in bed recalling the details and trying to understand what each story was presenting to me. One night earlier this week was particularly interesting. I dreamt that I was in an office that turned in to a bar while I was looking for someone. At one point, I started getting a little boisterous as if I had been drinking. The last thing I remember before waking up was feeling intense shame as the bartender told me that I was a total embarrassment.

My curious dream decoding self woke up wondering what my subconscious wanted me to know. Had writing about my sobriety last week triggered something within me that needed to be healed? Was the office a sign that I need to forgive myself for something that happened at work? The list of questions continued on as I deciphered each and every little clue. Then, with a tug on my heart strings, the message landed.

I had been stressing about what to write after my sobriety journey story from last week. I had started a number of stories and then found myself editing them to a pulp. I was afraid to write something that might not be good enough and was worried that committing to sharing my writing had been a huge mistake.

Wow! And hello shame!

I knew when I chose this path that it would be scary, but I didn't expect it to knock me off my center in the first two weeks after making my announcement. Part of me wanted to believe that by committing to my dream it would somehow make it easy. I also know myself well enough to know that an easy path would soon becoming boring.

As I sat wondering what to do next. Brene Brown came to mind. She is the leader in the field of vulnerability and shame research. I highly recommend checking out her books or, at a minimum, her TED talks. Brene says, "“If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three ingredients to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in the petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can't survive.”

I am sharing what I am facing not only to continue on my path of truth and transparency, but to show you that I am human too. I experience vulnerability hangovers just the same as everyone else. The thing that snapped me out of my shame spiral was giving myself the grace to talk about it.

Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Absolutely!

Giving myself the gift of an honest conversation about what was happening in my mind opened the door to be able to write about it here. It gave me the courage I needed to write bravely and once again step into the arena of vulnerability.

Today, I invite you to take a look at the stories your mind is telling you. Where are you getting hung up or held back by your own shame story or fear that your are not good enough. It's time to break the spiral! Reach out to someone you trust. Choose someone who can be there for you with empathy and compassion. Do not let shame hold you back from experiencing your true potential. The world needs you and the unique light you bring to this world.

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