This week I am working on a project called tessellation with my daughters. In this project, my children write an essay addressing the characteristics they find most important about themselves. We have decorated pieces representing each child and others to who we are connected, and even those we believe are beyond our sphere of influence. The pieces all fit together like a puzzle. Each piece of the puzzle is necessary for the whole—this is a perfect representation of how we fit together as a family, community, and humanity.
Last year brought something I will be shaping my career to address to the surface. I have observed how we judge one another as too much of this or too little of that. The biggies like race, class, and sexuality are front and center. But there are other characteristics and behaviors which we continue to judge. The cultural ideologies suggest what are considered good or bad characteristics. Generationally I see how we have been programmed to evaluate characteristics in others and how that has shifted over time. Masculinity is a perfect example. What is considered masculine has shifted over time, and those who fit the norm great but who do not are judged to be dysfunctional and are coxed to change their performance to match the standard set.
I see how these unique characteristics bring about shame in the individual. It can create unhealthy behaviors as these individuals attempt to fit in. Shame is used to make others believe there is something wrong with their innate being, forcing them to find ways to cope. I learned to detach from my core due to these standards and adhere to the norm to provide safety. However, since 2019, I have worked to reattach that core being and hold firm in who I am. I will no longer shift my characteristics or have unhealthy coping mechanisms because of the pressure of those surrounding me. We are all a unique piece of the puzzle, affecting more than we know.
We impact every person we interact with. Our children and family are our greatest creations. When raising my children, the behaviors I had created patterns of behavior in them, beliefs which they shaped all behavior around. I no longer shame my children. It is what I was taught, but I eventually realized what that was doing to them. My younger children have a different mother than my older children, and I find it my responsibility to reshape things with my older children with radical honesty and acceptance. It was me who hurt them; I played a part in creating some of their maladjusted behaviors. So I openly explore with them and accept responsibility for my part. My behavior has allowed for healing and the courage to look deeper into their creations. Our impact is far and wide.
I watched as a woman discussed how her daughter was a drug addict and would probably struggle with that her entire life. She never took responsibility for her role in creating any of the maladjusted behaviors in any of her children’s lives. It was just all shrouded in shame. From my perspective, it was there right up front to see, but no one addressed it. Every child had an escape behavior, which was derived from the escape behavior of the mother. But no one stepped up and said fuck shame; we are all in this together; what can we look at, discuss, and take responsibility for that provides the freedom we all so desperately desire.
Recently I had someone list characteristics and behaviors that they had, implying my characteristics, opposite to theirs, was flawed. It was an attempt to shame me for who I am, my traits and behaviors not measuring up to what this person believes are desirable. I find it very interesting that this person would take this approach because they have characteristics and behaviors that do not fit the norm. They have experienced shame and pain caused by others not allowing them the space to be who they are at their core being. But again, it is easy to see in the areas we have begun to address as a culture but not in others. It isn’t easy to see the connection to other characteristics and behaviors and the judgment that comes from outside an individual’s norm or culturally deemed desirable behaviors.
I thought about the implications of these accusations, that I was too much of this and not enough of that, for a few weeks. It opened the door by looking at the shame it had caused me in the past and how I had detached from who I was to people please. Instead of being ashamed and feeling rejected, I stood taller and prouder in who I am, loving and embracing these characteristics and behaviors. And something else showed itself, which allowed me the space to stand stronger. The same behaviors and characteristics that this individual was attempting to shame me for were the same characteristics and behaviors my husband of fifteen years deemed the most important in his list of love for me. I would not trade my husband for a trillion of anyone. He is my best friend and love; he has unlocked and allowed me to be the person I am finally. When he says he is your friend and loves you, he means it to his core. His love and friendship do not wane because I said something he did not like or disagreed on a subject.
That is where we are as a society. We effectively cancel people if they have a characteristic or behavior we disagree with. And further, we do not explore on our own. We take others’ words and perceived experiences as truth, never recognizing that we are all experiencing something different based on our previous experiences and inner narrative. We are in a hazardous time, where the truth and context are avoided for the meme and fragment to be used as weapons. While the current events offer the opportunity to see what is happening beneath the surface, exposing the things we have avoided or blinded to, we choose not to look. We want to cover it all up, behavior according to the cultural norms, and attempt to move forward, canceling those who raise questions. Those who recognize cognitive dissonance in others do not see it in themselves, and they effectively bulldoze each other with what they deem acceptable characteristics and behaviors. Only when the other measures meet their expectations will they have the space to stand together. What lies beneath is a superiority and righteousness complex that will never allow anything different in its place. This behavior is a historical trend and one on which western culture was based.
I have an innate desire to go against the norm. I always have. I see what others do not, and I realize that it is entirely human to reject ideas outside of our bias. However, when you remove the judgment and take a deeper look, you begin to see this approach’s freedom. Facing our conscious bias and exposing our unconscious bias is the key. It truly connects you to your higher self by taking you outside your comfort and prejudice. I have decided to no longer use the term shadow; it elicits a negative response in people, poking at their fear and shame. Because most of us have not had the opportunity or courage to facilitate an evolution of neurodevelopment beyond black and white thinking, fear and shame keep us locked into old narratives used to control. Shame has been used to keep us locked into these judgments and behaviors.
I know the value of looking at my most uncomfortable parts and pieces. I get satisfaction by venturing to the places. If we look throughout history, we see that the most significant growth had happened when we stopped trying to cancel one another and began to give others outside of the norm the freedom to be human. When we look at how our behaviors affect one another and take responsibility, the most remarkable positive change can occur. I have observed individuals escape bias only to get locked into another box due to comfort and belonging. But it is time to get uncomfortable. Can we approach one another without shame, blame, and guilt and find our way into the balance that the earth and humanity so desperately need?
A start is to love all of the pieces of the whole that make up humanity. Some of us have starkly different characteristics than the norm. We will never fit into this perfect mold that cultural history has created. And my goal is to hold space for individuals to stand proud in the energy of who they are. To love themselves fully and know their unique characteristics are essential pieces to the whole. I stand up against shaming and canceling individuals. This fearlessness as a social warrior is an important characteristic and behavior of mine. Without shame and blame, I have no problem discussing what is hidden from us. I have a gift and the ability to open and look deeper into the abyss without fear. My characteristics and behaviors are essential as I bring awareness to those unable to see. And I have the love that defeats the shame we all have been programmed to wield.
I continue to see this everywhere, people who have been shamed their entire lives because they bring the resistance into areas in which others have taken so much comfort. I observe individuals like me, who do not stand firm, bombarded by the pressure of those who shame their characteristics and watch as they buckle under the pressure. They give up on living as who they are; they bend and twist to meet the expectations, allowing shame to disfigure. They cannot find stability, and never being armed to recognize true love, they implode. And those who continue to judge and cancel them take the pieces out of context and judge that much more, never realizing it was their actions that created the foundation of the very behaviors they despise.
So, I am educating my children to recognize the significance and beauty of the necessary characteristics to the whole regardless of their discomfort. As adults, we express ourselves as wounded children, so I am proactive in not harming the next generation of adults. I am here to combat shame and look deeper into the spaces that we are afraid of and beyond the illusions of comfort and freedom. We can find true freedom by shedding light into these spaces and kneading the clay that has hardened with love.
Stand firm in who YOU are because you are an essential piece in the tessellate of consciousness expression.