This title “I Confess” came to me this morning, when I was trying to shape today’s blog post in my mind. I knew I wanted to write something about (1) uncharacteristically missing a second planning meeting for my high school reunion last night and (2) doing a first presentation at work, which I’ve written about here (as a way to manage my anxiety about doing it).
I think I used the words “I confess” in yesterday’s blog post, when I was revealing something that felt riskier to me — something I felt some shame about it.
Shame is something I’ve been particularly aware of, during this Year of Living Non-Judgmentally. As I’ve written about before, shame is different from guilt, as follows: Guilt is feeling like you’ve done something wrong, where shame is a more all-encompassing feeling — that there is something wrong with you.
Last night, I realized, horror-struck, that I had totally missed the second planning meeting of the reunion, when I noticed, at 8:30, this e-mail which had been sent to me:
Ann, are you on your way?
And I wasn’t. In a flash, I realized several things:
- The second meeting, which I had been looking forward to, was going on THEN.
- The date wasn’t in my iPhone calendar, although I remembered distinctly entering the next date at the first meeting.
Those were the facts.
And I sent an e-mail back and tried to phone the person who had sent it, Peter … but no dice. The e-mail and the phone message I left included apologies and several types of “I confess!” statements, including this one: “I suck!”
Then, I fought the automatic and distorted thoughts that come up for me — in waves — until I did hear back from Peter. Those thoughts included some rather uncomfortable visualizations of people at the meeting waiting for me, puzzled, and then annoyed. (That’s what the mind is for, apparently, visualizing people whom you fear you’ve disappointed, being pissed at you.) (I should speak for myself. There are parts of MY mind dedicated to that kind of processing)
I also imagined people sitting at the meeting thinking things like this about me: “Boy! Is SHE unreliable!” “What a space shot!” and other variations of “She sucks!”
Those thoughts involved mind reading what people were thinking. They also involved my over-estimating my importance, and I had some shame about that, too.
I did use some “antidotes,” to challenge those uncomfortable thoughts and visualizations. But it was difficult. I had problems distracting myself. I had a pit in my stomach, until I heard back. And the e-mail said, “Don’t worry about it.”
Good advice, Peter. I agree. (Actually, that would have been a cool title for today’s post, too. “Don’t worry about it.” Maybe a future one.)
Arrghh! I’m looking at the time and I want to finish this post off before I leave.
Here’s what I want to say. “I confess” indicates that Shame is in the house. And here’s a list, that comes to mind now, of things I feel ashamed about these days:
- That I forget things (like the reunion meeting date and my friend Jeanette’s birthday). Honestly, I don’t think I’m forgetting things that much more than I used to, and I am probably forgetting things these days because I’m so friggin’ busy at work, but there is a new way to “tell the story” of my forgetfulness now. I just turned 60. I’m getting older. It’s a challenge, now, not to think of forgetting in a different way– as a sign of aging. (And aging, my dear readers, is not something that is really valued in this world, for the most part, is it?)
- That I think about my own importance to others.
- That I don’t love my iPhone, because even though I’ve had it for several months, I still screw up doing things on it, like entering calendar dates. I feel isolated and uncool about this Lack of iPhone Love, people! Everybody loves their iPhone, it seems. But — I confess — I miss my Blackberry.
- In general, things that make me uncool.
- In general, things that make me feel different.
- That technology in general, including my iPhone, seems to be bamboozling me in ways that feel unfamiliar to me. Now, this might just involve the normal learning curve, when doing something new is involved. However, NOW, there is that additional shame of aging. Am I unable to learn new technology, because .. I’m getting too old?
Here’s one more thing I want to say before I wrap up this hastily-written post and publish it — with all it’s imperfections — I want to say a couple of things about the presentation yesterday.
- It went fine.
- And I confessed some things at the presentation. I self-disclosed that my passion for the work I do is somewhat fueled by “experiences I had as a child involving hospitals.” And, I confessed that I was anxious at the beginning of the presentation.
I feel fine about those confessions, because they fit the presentation. And they were short and sweet.
I like being transparent and “confessing”, when it helps other people (and me, too). I think NAMING things can be very helpful.
Sometimes it’s confusing to know what to reveal. Sometimes it’s confusing to know whom to reveal things to. I confess: those are issues for me here, too, as I write to you.
Blogging as confession.
I guess there’s no shame in that.
Thanks for reading.