Maria turned to me this morning, her eyes were filled with tears, I asked her what the matter was.
I have something to tell you, she said, it is hard, I am ashamed to say it.
She told me what she had to say, it was not shameful or awful, it was very human, the old thoughts of a child who had been treated badly. I could see on her face how hard it was to tell me those thoughts, how heavy was the load she had been carrying all of her life.
I was proud of her and grateful that we had the trust between us that made it safe for her, I have told her some of the things I was deeply ashamed of, things, I had never told anyone.
One of the stones we carry on our backs is the idea that we and our stories are shameful, that others are better than us, purer, less tormented, that we alone have great secrets to bear. We are taught all of our lives to hide our stories and our secrets, to feel ashamed, to fear what others think of us.
I learned some time ago that everyone in the world has a harder life than I do, has suffered more. We all carry our secrets. To me, the measure of love, of friendship, is trust. Maria has seen me at my very worst, seen me when I would not permit anyone to see me, when no one else could see me.
Many people run and hide from that kind of shame, but the blessed are encouraged by the angels to take the things they are most ashamed of and bring them into the open. I do that here sometimes, with therapists sometimes, with Maria often.
Mara was shaken by the stories she told me, watching carefully for signs of disapproval and disgust. I felt none of those things, I was overwhelmed by respect for her strength and honesty. It was a difficult thing for her to share. It told me much about her life that this is what she expected when she told the truth, became authentic. I told her that her stories were powerful, I thanked her for trusting me, I told her this was the road to personhood to authenticity.
There is not one single human being reading this who does not carry shame and fear deeply inside of them, who has not hidden their worst moments and feelings away. I am here to tell you to share them, to bring them into the open, the prophets were right, the confessional is cleansing, truth is the path to rebirth and redemption, but everyone does not need a priest. A lover is good, so is a friend. I have confessed my shame to dogs and donkeys, written it on my blog, danced around it in my memoirs.
When I can look the world in the eye and say to anyone, this is the worst of me, this is the best of me, then I will be close to my destination, my quest to be authentic.