The shame in my game

Brene Brown says ‘show up, be seen’. She says that’s what courage is; showing up and being seen. I haven’t identified one area of my life where that is harder for me than investing in my body through exercise.

I am terrified I’m not worthy of such a pursuit.

I started running in May. I could have never imagined the shame trigger that would be. How all of my feelings of inadequacy would be exposed.

Show up. Every time I did, I viciously attacked myself.
You don’t belong here, doing this.
You’re too fat.
You’re pathetic.
You’re not good enough.

It was harder to fight the hateful shaming voices in my head than it was to actually run. And actually running was really hard.

But I kept showing up. I kept fighting and running.

Once the showing up got a little easier….

Be seen.

I signed up for my first race and instantly began berating myself for doing so.
Even though in training I had far exceeded the distance of the race numerous times, I told myself the ugliest things about my ability to complete it.

The last place in the world I should show up was a public running event. Showing my face there was a violation of my dignity. I was going to crawl over the finish line, panting, hours after everyone else had returned. Everyone who saw me would think all the same nasty things about me. I wasn’t good enough. And I didn’t belong.

Being seen there was the hardest thing. The hardest.

Being seen. Even with my friends – not even my best friend escaped the arrows of my shame.

She’s totally the catalyst for this shame exposing running thing in the first place! She said ‘you’re running my next half marathon with me’. And I uncharacteristically thought ‘what if I could?’

She gave me 2 things that light fiery passion and motivation within me – an audacious goal (which are the only kind I like) and someone I love to share it with.

Next thing I know, running that that race with her is exactly what I was going to do.

Later, it became apparent she wasn’t really thinking we were going to race together. Not that she rejected it. Just that it wasn’t on her radar. Which made me feel dumb because it was the biggest thing on mine.

My inadequacy was exposed in a big way. Inside I was screaming at her “but! I’ve been busting my ass this whole time! You ditched me! You took back my big crazy goal and my someone I love to share with, and you ditched me!” I told her I was sad we weren’t doing the race together. And I was jealous of the people running it who would get to share in it with her.

But, honestly, my biggest problem was the mean things I was saying to myself. In my own feelings of unworthiness I was convinced she specifically did not want her and I to run together. She didn’t want us to race together because I don’t belong in that world and she knew it. Because she thinks I can’t. Because she knew I would struggle and she didn’t have any room in her world for my struggle.

Why is this so hard?! I mean, I have pieces of the puzzle but haven’t quite put them together.

I’ve felt this way as long as I can remember. That my body is not worthy of investing in and taking care of. And if I do it’s something to hide, because I don’t deserve it. I had the same feelings as a teen when I would wake up hours before anyone else so I could exercise without anyone knowing.

Maybe I learned this through a lack of support I received. Parents refusing to take me to my basketball games – telling me it was a waste of time and they had better things to do. Forgetting to pick me up from practice. Refusing to celebrate my accomplishments because it might make a sibling without such an accomplishment feel bad.

Maybe I learned this in the times my body was violated. Surely a body worthy of investment would not be treated so ugly.

Maybe it’s the cognitive dissonance. My body is strong. And I know it. It’s powerful. Maybe the conflict of feeling strong and capable but feeling utterly unworthy leads to an exaggerated need to keep all that power – all my power – locked away tight, or it might get out of control.

I don’t know. And I guess it really doesn’t matter.

I write this as I’m sitting in my car on my way to my very first crossfit workout, where I’m certain to fight off all these shaming thoughts again. Maybe what matters is that I keep showing up and being seen. That I welcome opportunities to confront these oppressive voices. That I even seek them out…. Like some kind of shame slaying ninja.

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