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With a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction degree (Goucher College, August 2014), I am looking at a new phase in my life. From 1992 to 2009, I served as Founding Executive Director of Miriam's House, a residence for homeless women living with AIDS. I left this position when Chronic Migraine Disease overtook my ability to do my job. Now I hope that a writing career will both accommodate the migraines and give me a creative, productive outlet. And soon, September 4, I will launch my Inkshares author page in a bid to hit the 1,000 pre-order goal in 90  days. The book I want to publish is "Nowhere Else I Want to Be," a memoir of ten of my years at Miriam's House.

28 October 2014

Shame Resilience Final Post

What better way to wrap up a series of posts than to write about a personal experience that illustrates the main points? And even better if one hasn't planned it, if it just happens when one is out of control.

Photo by William Marsh
To recap a bit: I was diagnosed with occipital neuralgia this spring, and began treatments in August. At that time, I understood the doctor to say that the treatments may help or even eliminate the migraines. To my surprise and shame, I realized I was feeling afraid of getting better -- I wrote about it in this post in August.

(It turns out I'd misunderstood; the treatments rarely make a big difference with migraine, though they do well eliminating the neck and back-of-the-head pain.)

That was embarrassing. However, this blog explores and processes the interactions of spirit and chronic pain, so I wrote the post despite embarrassment. And shame. And feeling like there was something wrong with me. That post has turned out to be one of my most-viewed ever. It would seem that others struggle with the chronic-ness of life as I do.

As I reflected on and did some research about shame, I came across Brene Brown and an interview she gave, here in Spirituality and Health Magazine. The bit on shame at the end of the interview became the basis of this series of posts, of which this is the sixth and final.

So here's where the lessons all begin to flow together. Last Friday, I had a treatment for occipital neuralgia. Before the doctor began the injections, we talked about next steps. But I had a migraine, and was still caught up in the original confusion, and so I misunderstood my doctor to say that there was no further treatment and he couldn't give me more of these injections (they're steroids, and will atrophy the muscles). Suddenly I thought I'd be stuck with the pain whose absence the past 12 weeks had been such a relief. And I just about bawled, right there in his office. (I did cry, but later, while lying down until the dizziness caused the the injections passed.) 

While the tears smeared my mascara, I suddenly realized that the fear of healing I'd 'fessed up to in August was gone. I wanted the healing. I'd had it for twelve blessed weeks, had experienced some improvement in quality of life, and was NOT going to give it up. What a turn-around from the original post!

As I lay there I also realized how the blogging illustrates the process of attaining shame resilience.

Writing that August post helped me understand and name something that caused me shame. The process of getting it out, as well as
the comments and interest in the post, helped me practice compassionate awareness when the shame returned. More aware and open, I found the Brene Brown interview and ended up writing about what I was going through.

It's serendipity. Or God's guidance. Or the leading of a spirit guide. Or the will of Allah. However we understand and describe these marvelous comings-together of spirit and mind and experience, they are surely more available to us when we practice the awareness and compassion that come with greater openness and honesty. I have come to see shame resilience as an important part of it all.


Thanks for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.


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