Tuesday, 11 October 2011

My heavy overcoat of shame.

"Gonna rise up
... find my direction magnetically."
- Eddie Vedder

I sat listening to a panel at BlogHer in August, called "Your Perfect Imperfections: Blogging Your Way to Self-Acceptance." (Full transcript HERE.) After Brene Brown, Mr Lady and Gluten Free Girl spoke, there was a call for questions from the audience. I asked Brene about not shielding the truth about my story to my children. When she answered, to my horror I started to cry.

"WHY ARE YOU CRYING YOU IDIOT? STOP IT!!" (I have very caring self-talk.) Sitting across from my esteemed work colleague Mrs Woog, I wiped my hot tears away and silently thanked her for not looking up and giving me one of those bullshit sympathy looks. This is why we are friends.

Brene saw me cry, though. Her answer was as beautiful as she is, and I haven't forgotten something she said:

"We cannot love our children any more than we love ourselves."

I thought wow, if this is true? My kids are screwed.


Last week I was looking for something on the internet, but found myself instead accidentally on Brene's personal blog, Ordinary Courage. BAM I was met with an invitation to join her in doing an e-course in ".. the power of owning our story and the path that unfolds when we decide to cultivate shame-resilience instead of allowing shame to send us into hiding, numbing, perfectionism, or lashing out."

I clicked away and thought - sounds nice, but pffffft. Then clicked straight back five seconds later, signed up, registered, paid, bought a DVD and two books.

I do not do shit like this on the internet, have never done an e-course in my life. Never believed in them.

Like every other human on the planet, I have deeply entrenched core issues that could do with a big cleanout every once in a while. I carry around a lot of shame, like rocks in my pocket. It gets really heavy, and stops me from doing a lot.

I suspect a lot of this shame was never really mine to begin with.

Dr Brene Brown is a research professor who has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She's like, a Shame Professor. I started her course today. Last night I cracked open her book "The Gifts of Imperfection." Rocco was still awake at 9.15pm and running into our bedroom and I just gave up and let him sleep there. Dave was talking to me, so I had to re-read the same paragraph six times.

"Courage originally meant 'to speak one's mind by telling one's whole heart' .. over time, courage has become synonymous with being heroic. Heroics is often about putting our life on the line.

Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerablilty on the line. In todays' world, that's pretty extraordinary."

So, I'm doing an e-course. Bono says he always wants to remain teachable, and goddamit so do I.

I don't feel any different yet. Especially today after a particularly spectacular text-fight with my husband, then getting cranky at the mess in my house, walking around in circles and feeling useless because the social media job I was offered a few weeks ago is now withdrawn because I don't have a university degree.

As if I could ever get a university degree ... I'll be battling to see if I can actually finish this e-course, because I find life tricky. It's hard to do things.

I still have Hope, though. That has to count for something.


If you want to make a cup of tea one night and have a spare fifteen minutes, check out Brene talking here on the "Price of Invulnerability." Anything that cuts through my jaded heart like this is pretty cool.

This is October's Year of Turning Forty entry, but not the one I was planning on. Every time I have an idea for one, it gets pushed aside by something else.

Like a fucking e-course that I know is going to have a profound effect on the rest of my life and will cause a ripple effect to all those within close proximity.

Life is weird.



  1. I sense some of those rocks will be finding a new home soon.

    Good for you Eden, good for (and on) you. xo

  2. "To speak one's mind by telling one's whole heart" Damn, I love that definition of courage. And isn't it just the truth. Good for you Eden. Wishing you lots of vulnerability. x

  3. Jesus. I was very moved by this post. My life story: Feeling constant shame and not wishing to show vulnerability. The End. But maybe not if I do this e-course? Heaven knows I have tried everything else.

    I shouldn't say The End. I should say To Be Continued, and things are looking up.

  4. OK - pardon my lack of interest in your internet course. I'm not much for self-help, touchy-feely stuff. It's much easier to just bottle that shit up and get on with life. You can come visit me during the recovery period for my eventual bypass surgery, as the bottling up = stress = heart disease in my family. Knowledge is power, right?

    What does interest me is this: Who in the hell would require a university degree for a social media job? WTF? Are they unaware that half of the people who made social media possible did it without degrees or before they finished college? How fucking ridiculous!!!! Clearly you are better off not working for the obviously clueless. Please call them up and laugh at them for being idiots.

  5. I almost tweeted you to say that I love it when my insomnia..4am UK time collides with one of your posts.

    Instead I have watched that amazing clip and it dawns on me why I don't sleep sometimes. The quest for perfection wears me out.

    Another inspiring post Eden, and your right hope does count for something. Plus you quoted his Lordship Mr Eddie Vedder.

    People often write, thanks for sharing. This time I really mean it. xoxo

  6. I find life tricky too, and yes, life is weird.
    These words resonate with me today.

  7. I think you are infinitely teachable... but you have more to teach back than you seem to know. x

  8. The bit thatbshocks me most about your post, is that the job offer was withdrawn because they found out you didn't have a degree. What a load of old bollocks. They offered it to you, because they knew your work? They clearly thought you could do the job. What idiots.
    Considering the amount of plagiarism, slacking off and scrape the bottom of the barrel standards that are now entrenched in tertiary education, I find this astounding.
    Give me a talented, writer with life skills and experience a plenty any day.
    Re: issues. I have been in some sort of talk therapy since I was 20 yrs old and on meds for the past 15. Not many know. I have a massive let it all out blog post in me, but just can't...yet.
    I am about to turn 52, have raised three divine humans, but am still guilt ridden over all I did wrong, and I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

  9. It concerns me that you think you couldn't get a university degree. 17 year old's with no clue on earth are able to get degrees. You are an amazing, talented woman who has been through so much, and has achieved so much considering where you have come from and the journey you have taken... I only have to read a few of your posts to know what courage is in your heart!! A university degree is basic in comparison. Time consuming, yes. But with so many options these days - SO EASY! I just started mine through Open Universities Australia - a Bachelor of Internet Communications. You should check it out if you are interested. I am loving it. I feel like giving up everyday due to work and family lack of support, but I'm fighting for it tooth and nail because I want to achieve something for myself.

    You can do anything!

  10. Totally agree with maxabella.

    That video is amazing. Makes you think. Deeeeeply..... and because its not my parents talking, it is sooo much more interesting.

    Your shoes look soooo like mine! It made me smile! (if they are your shoes?

  11. Well isn't that the truth. You go through life expecting that your children will get better only to find they don't get better, they get you. That same you (and I'm talking for myself here only) that is just as neurotic and fucked up as she always was, she's just now responsible for children and not just their bodies which are resilient. But their emotional core. I am screwed.

  12. It is hard to do things. I leave a lot of things unfinished. Hopefully not the important stuff.

    That you ended up on Brene's website could be serendipitous.

    Best of luck, Eden x

  13. That panel was the most powerful thing at BlogHer and I remembered her answer to your question. I've dragged Brene's book out to read. A good friend sent it to me a while back and I hadn't read it. I will now. Thank you Eden. And there is always, always hope x

  14. I love Brene and the work she does around shame. Another person who speaks wisely about shame is a dude called Robin Grille (Sydney psych and author) - he says that shame is the most toxic thing that we can give our children, because it gets imprinted in their brains... and the opposite to shame is humility. Being humble infront of our kids is the key to healing ourselves and them. They respect us more for it. Wishing you good courage as you put one foot infront of the other.

  15. Speak of your gratitude. If only it were that easy as it sounds, but it's just so convienent to forget.

    I remember when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, my oldest sister would constantly leave little reminders on all of our phones that she loved us. Just because.

    And just because of this post, I did the same.

    Thank you for the reminder and know that I am grateful for you all. Beautiful post, as always.

  16. "'We cannot love our children any more than we love ourselves.'

    I thought wow, if this is true? My kids are screwed."

    Wow. E. You are on a blowing-my- mind-roll (the bf-ing post was great, BTW).

    Like Pam said of herself in a post recently, I, too, tend to be an absurdly earnest person ... for one thing ... because the energy it takes to baffle people with BS and still come out ahead is not something I have ever possessed. Plus, I have working memory issues with being something other than what I am: myself. I can't pull the fakey-fakey off. I'll tell you what, though, none of us here in PMLand are exactly getting a hero's welcome nor any medals for speaking truth to power lately. I wish it was a fairy tale where telling the Emperor he has no clothes is rewarded, but so far ... our lives are much, much messier than that. Especially right now. I find that people who can actually ~hear~ truth and see it for the treasure that it is without judgement -- and the dysfunctional actions that usually follow it -- are as rare and as precious as the thing itself. If this is a self-help fairy tale, it is a Grimm one. Take care, Little Red (she says as much to herself as anyone).

    Looking forward to the TED video.


  17. Honestly your posts lately have really had a massive impact, you would not believe how spot on all this is right now thanks :)

  18. Here you are, tapping in to the collective consciousness again! What a brilliant portal you've got going, E. Love it. LOVE your workings-out, even more that you share them so effortlessly. The weaving, clever Universe. Thank you. Brene sounds a-mazing, I'll have to check her work out some more.

  19. I was profoundly struck by the words in your post. I have never thought about "shame" and how it is tied into striving for perfection, but now I can't stop thinking about it. I am actually struck silent as I contemplate those words, and I look forward to reading more about your journey through this e-course. Thank you for your striking honesty.

  20. You could have paid 1 million dollars for this course, and still it'd be worth that a thousand times over.

    I'm not lying.
    The only drawback is, once you even begin this path...open this door...you will not see others the same.

    You will recognize them all, especially the lashing out ones.

  21. Look at you making this progress! Now I'm off to check out that damned ecourse, and btw you're full of it, you will finish it. If only because you've put it out there now.

  22. I think you should write your own version of an e-course as most of the wisdom I get from the internet seems to come from your soul searching posts which never fail to resonate with everyone who reads them!

  23. yeah, i almost signed up for that course. like you, though, i carry lots of rocks in my pockets. they weigh me down--or, at least, fool me into thinking i'm weighed down when i could actually run faster if i just believed i could. am actually enrolled in TWO online courses at the moment. unfuckingbelievable. like, what made me sign up for e-courses?—hope. yes, i remember now.

    brené brown totally rocks. love her. like me, she's recovering from addiction. i put one of her TED talks on my blog:

    hope you'll stop by. you're a strong woman and i'm looking for other strong women these days. /G

  24. My partner had the no degree, sorry we'll take back that offer even though we think you're perfect and have 10 years experience. IDIOTS. Yes go and get yourself someone straight out of school, hope that works well for you! Of course you could get a degree - they're not as hard as most of the things you do day to day. Perfectionism is a real thwarter in life, so hard to talk the kids (and myself) out of it though, silly how your mind gets a vision and won't let things rest until it's fulfilled, what about all those other lovely visions that are totally achievable!


Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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