The Things I Carry – The Preamble to Failure

Just because we are at war with ourselves doesn’t mean that we didn’t cheat and we didn’t act out.

Samuel, Infidelity Scars

My wife and daughters would rather I die on top of my white horse than fall down. When we reach out and be vulnerable we get the shit beat out of us. And don’t tell me it’s from the guys, coaches, and dads, because the women in my life are harder on me than anyone else.

Brene Brown

On November 24, 2017 my life caught up with my fears.

Within 24 hours I was living out of my van and my Love of loves was not speaking to me. It was the first day of a very long twenty months where I would find myself isolated and ostracised by people I considered friends, family, and community.

Fear, anger, shame, and loneliness conspired with exhaustion and heartache battering me about driving one short-sighted, anxiety fueled choice after another. Pursuing C – and forgiveness – through emailing, texting, calling, and writing. I was finally broken…and secret-free.

I was both relieved and terrified.

Yesterday, I was digging through the archives of another online journal I maintain and rediscovered this post about My Shame I made thirty days before the reveal on October 27, 2017. This letter represents a plea to C to hear me. I was pleading with her to help.

In all the chaos over the last twenty months I had forgotten I wrote this, and several other things to her.

I’ve added it below.

I realized this is one of several things I wrote in the year leading up to the end hoping C cared enough to talk about what I wrote the way I talked to her about her paintings. It was an attempt to confront the conflict without having to confront the risk, uncertainty, or emotional feelings.

It was an unskillful attempt at vulnerability and connection. I really loved that woman. I never, ever, wanted to be anywhere else.

Shame was one of many things I carried as I tried to fix this failure alone.

Twenty months later I also recognize how quiet My Shame has become in my life. I find talking with My Shame has taken away it’s power. Openly talking about my Ugly, in my journal, here, in therapy, and with my friends has removed the ability of the ill-intentioned and ill-informed to emotionally blackmail me or make me responsible for their behaviors. Talking with My Shame has lessened the harsh voices condemning me for having the audacity to breathe.

I am, for the first time in a longtime, not afraid or hiding.

As such, this is who I am and if it makes someone uncomfortable, they can take responsibility and walk away. This awareness has created these interesting boundaries where I’m not internalizing other people’s opinions because it is so clear when it isn’t about me, and when I am unsure, I have people smarter than me to help me reason it out. I am willing to be seen and ask for help.

As a result, today, over twenty months later, I realize I’m free. I cannot be blackmailed or bullied by people using my secrets or lies to harass or humiliate me. I have discovered a deeper and more meaningful connection to others, an appreciation for my good, bad, and Ugly, borne from a deep and heartfelt curiosity about myself and my life. Not every day can be the best day and there are moments I still struggle with forgiving myself and granting myself clemency but those are moments, and they pass because shame is not the overriding factor in my choices.

I am living, most days, the life I choose with moments of sorrow and joy, and as I am reminded over and over, so are my former Partners.

© is engaged, and found someone that keeps her safe, and K has found a deep inner peace with her own life.

I’m truly happy for both of them, and I’m not ashamed to say it.

If you connect with this at all, I put a few links of things worth watching and reading.

If you connect with this, know you are worthy of love, compassion, forgiveness, and kindness. You are more than the worst thing you have ever done.

I cut and pasted my entry in its entirety below.

Power of Shame

Originally published 10/27/2017

My truth, my self, my heart, my humanity is unworthy of being shared with others. What you tell me you see, feel, think of me is not who I am. I did not say, I “feel” or “think” or “believe” what you tell me you see, feel or think of me is not who I am. I know absolutely I am not the powerful, smart, handsome, strong, brave, courageous and worthy person you think I am.

And this is the power of shame.

There are no doubts or confusion about this absolute knowledge. Lack of worthiness is the one area people living with shame know with certainty while all other truths, perceptions, needs and wants are clouded by doubt. It is my only unshakable, unbreakable faith.

Shame is my jealous, vain and wrathful god and enabler.

Shame is fundamental to my identity. It is my religion and I am an apostle. Like all evangelicals, with zeal I’m willing to gaslight reality, you, and my life, to prove I’m unworthy. Out of misplaced ideology I am willing to ignore, demonize and distort all reason, counter-experience, rationality, decency, science, math and history to prove I am unworthy.

It it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is my internal theocracy. It is my cult.

Success and acts of kindness are are met with a rising crescendo of taunts, sneers, derision and mockery. Voices of culturally anointed, venerated and hollowed coaches, parents, teachers, Drill Instructors, frenemies and exes yell, shout, ridicule and demean my humanity, my worth. Overlapping stories of failures and failings endlessly looped for reminders of how I am unworthy. These venerated Saints of Shame tirelessly make self-respect and self-worth seem selfish and undeserved.

What you tell me you see, feel, think of me is not who I am – unless it is hurtful, destructive, vindictive and mean. Then the Saints of Shame harrumph their approval and add the mantra to their Star Chamber of Shame’s jukebox of one hit wonders.
The dogma is simple: I am unworthy of companionship, compassion, consideration, counsel and kindness. I am unworthy of love and friendship. I am unworthy of success or recognition.

This is the power of shame: I am unworthy of all the wonderful qualities of humanity. I am a weed in humanity’s garden to be uprooted and supplemented. I take up space offering nothing worth harvesting. I provide no bounty.

Living with shame isn’t like living in darkness. It’s staring into the sun; forever corrupting our ability to accurately perceive our significance and contributions to the world around us.

Without detached, patient, logical and consistent efforts to maintain a self-awareness, we willing become one of Shame’s Four Horseman. Riding into the world, creating the reality of a destructive, dangerous unworthiness.

On a bad day it still will.

This Is What Happens When the Unfaithful Spouse Doesn’t Forgive Themselves

A video from Samuel at Affair Recovery

Listening to Shame

“Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Brené Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word.”

The Power of Vulnerablity

“Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share.”

2 thoughts on “The Things I Carry – The Preamble to Failure

  1. “Talking with My Shame has lessened the harsh voices condemning me for having the audacity to breathe. I am, for the first time in a longtime, not afraid or hiding. ”

    That statement resonated with me, like deep down in my core. I know all too well what it’s like to be condemned to the eternal hell we create within our mind due to secrets we intend to carry to our grave. So many times we deliver our own life sentence and become the judge, jury and executioner.

    Once I freed myself from the constraints of the secrets and lies I was able to breathe again and those who still wanted to keep me chained to my past no longer had power over me…….and boy, does it piss them off not being able to effect me like they once did.

    1. Wanders – #Infidelity is an outcome of an unskillful coping mechanism, everything else is a story someone imagines. Sharing thoughts and letters with those the men and women that #betrayed their Loves, lives, and selves too. What you do today matters most. All anyone can do is own the experience and practice doing better.
      SeanTheExplorer says:

      Thank you again.