Humiliation: I'll Share Mine If You Share Yours.
There’s nothing quite like public humiliation. The hot, flushed skin. Every sense is heightened. It’s like you are sneaking peeks at the audience from behind a curtain, hoping they didn’t see or hear what you know for certain that they did. Well, that’s what happened to me this weekend. Long story short, I had just taught a great yoga class and was sitting in the welcome area after class, waiting for my students to come out of savasana. I watched as a man approached me. He looked at a me a little strange and then said "Isn't there still another 25 minutes of class left?"
Shit. Shit. How did that happen? I had an insane lapse in mental ability. Somehow during teaching I got confused on when the class started and when it was supposed to end; yeah, I don’t know. It was so embarrassing. I mean REALLY embarrassing. I walked back into the room to somehow try and explain what happened. I realized quickly that there really wasn’t an explanation other than; I am human.
Human. Aren’t we all just human anyways?
I remember my husband telling me a couple years ago that I shouldn’t tell people all my failures, so easily. I understood what he meant; I think he was trying to protect me in some way from being judged. But the thing is, I’m not sure how to operate in any other way. When I share with someone my failures, my weakness, my inability; what I am really asking you is: “are you with me?” I feel constantly bombarded with all the reasons that I’m not good enough. I didn’t finish my degree. I don’t own a house. I don’t have magical craft hour with my kids every day. I swear too much. I still have more IKEA furniture than I would like. Some days, I’m sure that my child had too much (insert, HOURS) of screen time. I feel inadequate because some of the adult things that I’m just supposed to know, I am clueless about. It can be overwhelming, having all these reasons, all these ‘need to improve upon’ weights pulling me down. I suffocated in regret and comparison for too long. I’m happily finding new freedom in what it really means to live authentically, for me.
I was at a new friend’s house the other night. They have a baby and conversation turned to parenting. I told them a story of when we first became parents. My husband and I assumed that everyone accidentally dropped their babies from time to time but no one ever talked about it. My first-born fell off his change table (we turned around to get new wipes), he flipped himself out of his crib (we should have lowered the mattress) and he fell off the counter (he was helping me make cookies, OK?!). I laugh about it now, but I realized after a few years that no – most people, in fact, do not constantly drop their baby. When I tell people this story, I usually get one of two reactions:
The first one is a look of relief. Maybe they haven’t dropped their baby, but they have fucked up somehow. Our eyes lock and we share our humanity. By being vulnerable with my inadequacies I am saying, “I’m human too, I see you and you can be safe here.”
The second one is a look of unease. My confession has made them uncomfortable. Previously, I would have taken reaction to heart and it would have fuelled my “I suck at this” story. I’ve slowly learned that the only reason their reaction is one of horror is because they have yet to admit to themselves that they don’t have to be perfect. In most cases, it is easy to interpret their fear as judgment.
And to that I say: no more.
I’m not sure why in particular it is harder to share our parenting failures; but I know one thing for certain: I will be waiting, ready to befriend anyone who will come meet me at the park bench wearing the same pants we wore yesterday (and maybe even the day before). I’ll continue to share my story because I can’t be the only mom out there who has days where crackers have made up the majority of all three meals. Who cracks a bottle of wine at 3pm and looses her patience over trivial matters. I can’t be the only one who sometimes feels like an imposter, waiting to be found out. Besides, if I can’t laugh at myself, then what is the point?