I was talking to Gloria, my therapist, and she brought up a lady named Brene Brown. She said I needed to listen to what she was saying and read her book about shame. I told her “ok” and had no intention of looking into this.

Gloria knew that.

So the next time we met, she had a book waiting for me. “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. Gloria is quite persistent…

I love to read and she knew that but I also didn’t help with figuring out who I was. I was DonMon, I was either 0 or 100!! I wasn’t going to just listen to her – why would I do that?!? Fuck this shit. I don’t have shame. There’s nothing for me to be ashamed about. I am who I am, and I’ve done the shit that I’ve done.

It is what it is.

– Literally, Everyone

During this time, I was heartbroken and entering one of the darkest times I will have ever experienced in my life. I had just lost my job, lost the love of my life, and failing miserably at managing my PTSD. I was falling head first into a severe depression that would leave a scar so deep, I can feel it as I type about it.

The Shame Researcher

I had a moment of weakness and saw Brene Brown’s name on a book at Barnes and Nobles while shopping with my kids. We love the book store. I picked it up and being the fast reader that I am, breezed through the first 3 chapters in the hour we were there. I was hooked. As I absorbed everything I was reading, I also kept thinking about Brooke. My heart was still raw from our separation and I wanted to try to connect with her in any way that I could. I was still in love with her even though I told myself I wasn’t.

So I ordered it online and sent to her. Then I bought the book for myself.

The infamous TED Talk from the gifts of imperfection

I studied this book and embraced everything it offered. I then finally picked up “Daring Greatly” and let all of the information pour itself into me. It was my productive way of coping. I systematically picked myself apart and analyzed every behavior and every aspect of my being. I took notes and did additional research on the things I read. I watched Brene’s TED talks and then when I was done…

I read it all again, reanalyzed my notes, systematically picked myself apart again and then tried to rebuild what I could with the pieces I found.

I bought more books and studied harder. I looked for employment and worked out WAY too hard at the gym – would be there everyday for hours just pounding away at my body until it hurt to move. Then I would do it again the next day.

The talk that started a journey

I would have panic attacks and random bits of uncontrollable sobbing in public; gym, grocery store, coffee shop, the bar I started working at to help cover what unemployment couldn’t. It was bad and I was so embarrassed and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I couldn’t control the feelings or the guilt but mostly… I couldn’t control the amount of disappointment I felt in myself for the things I felt made me “great”. I was an asshole. My behaviors were asshole behaviors. I walked around like I had everything figured out and I was fucking clueless. I felt ashamed of the person that I was. I was practicing cowardice by not facing my own fears and not living my truth and yet there I was – telling Brooke to “figure it out” when I should’ve been saying it to myself.

Discovering Wholeheartedness

With intense therapy and a compass guiding me towards understanding that which I thought I already knew. I was so lost and it took a deep hit to my pride and my ego and it broke everything in me to accept that I indeed, knew absolutely nothing.

I let go of the thought that I knew anything and began to un-learn all of the behaviors that I calculated were causing me more harm than good. Then I had to figure out what I needed to learn to become wholehearted. I started doing things to take care of my mental health like meditation and being more deliberate with my thoughts, my words, and my actions. I listened more and tried harder to understand their perceptions.

Brooke and I were not on good terms. Somehow, we ended up having a conversation that was just the “business” since we still had some financial stuff mixed together. During that conversation, I went with the “fuck it, she’s already gone anyway” approach and opened up. I opened up and accepted that she was on her path – far, far away from mine. I was healing and it felt good.

I didn’t realize that my healing would completely rock the world that she had created as a result of our separation. In opening up to her and finding myself because she couldn’t hurt me anymore – she began to allow herself to be found as well. And very quickly, we began to hold each other’s hand and finally allowed the other to see the raw truth of ourselves.

And we felt more connected than ever.

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