I was once talking to a dear friend about transformation and learning to find my true self. She asked me how long it took for me to get there and I told her just a few months, ”you witnessed it when I started the newsletter,” I told her. She didn’t believe me and kept asking, “but it took a long time before that, right?” I didn’t feel the need to convince her because all that mattered was that she was a loving, supportive presence in my life so I just let the conversation go.

Connecting to our true selves doesn’t mean we are done on our journey (which I thought I was at the time), or that we’re perfect or don’t have more to learn. What it does mean is that we are connected to the deepest core of ourselves. I remember early on in the journey of sitting on my bed, after I had dropped the kids off at school, and meditating. All of a sudden, a rush of overwhelming joy, love, light and beauty flooded my body and I started weeping. I remember being embarrassed by the experience and didn’t quite understand what had happened. What I know now that I’ve been several years on this journey, is that I had connected to my divine, the birthplace of love and inherent worth.

I think back to how that initial transformation went so quickly. It could have been the calling I felt when I discovered women’s portraiture that started me on this path, meditation, daily gratitude journaling, reading, etc. but the thing that had the biggest impact was feeling compelled to start this newsletter when I didn’t understand why. Despite the terror I felt, I started sharing all of the deepest, darkest shame I had been carrying around, starting with the present and delving ever deeper into childhood, excavating all that had been buried long ago.

I’ve been reading the book Healing the Shame that Binds You that shed light on why sharing that shame made such a big impact. James Bradshaw writes,

“At the deepest level, toxic shame triggers our basic automatic defensive cover-ups… Once these defenses are in place they function automatically and unconsciously, sending our true and authentic selves into hiding. We develop a false identity out of this basic core. We become master impersonators. We avoid our core agony and pain and over a period of years, we avoid our avoidance.”

I now understand how releasing all the shame I had been carrying empowered me to drop that false identity and allow my true self to finally emerge. That self was always there. She had just been hiding. Brene Brown says, “Shame cannot survive being spoken” and I have found this to be true. I no longer feel ashamed of my past, recognizing much of it didn’t even belong to me and while, admitting a raw truth in this newsletter still feels scary and too vulnerable, I still speak so that my true self never goes into hiding again.

We all have shame that we carry around, keeping us from our truest selves. Let’s get together and have intentional conversation about it this Saturday for Coffee with Intention. And if you’re interested in reading Bradshaw’s book, we will be doing a deep dive Book+Journal study of it starting next month.

Coffee with Intention on Shame