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Walk of shame

“I only share when I have no unmet needs that I’m trying to fill. I firmly believe that being vulnerable with a larger audience is only a good idea if the healing is tied to the sharing, not to the expectations I might have for the response I get.” ~ Brené Brown


Photo by Deborah Neary

Photo by Deborah Neary

“You get what you’re given.”

“Who do you think you are?”

“Don’t be so selfish.”

These phrases echo from my formative years. Instilled in me was the sense that I ought to be satisfied with what there was.  And, dare I ask for more, was thrust into a shame storm, the word selfish wielded around me like shrapnel.

As a wife, I acquiesced to my husband’s wants, believing that when one was coupled, yes was the answer to any and all questions.   Well, “yes” turned out to be the answer to his want, “no”, to mine.  From the get go, “no” became the dominant message: to intimacy, to touch, to openness, to truth.   Living in the no reinforced what I already believed to be true about myself: I was worthy of little.

I created the same dynamic in the next significant relationship – beginning with a resounding “yes,” our partnership died whimpering “no.”

When one is denied for so long, knowing one’s desires becomes an impossibility – and that is where I started my journey.

I had to travel to the center of the storm and become Selfish in order to heal – exactly what I was ashamed of being.

I wish I could say I had it all figured out.

I wish I could tell you I have the answers to everything.

The truth is, I am both the cartographer and the traveler here – and sometimes I have difficulty reading my own map it is so scratched up, crossed off and confusing.  Standing in that truth, no matter what, is what makes me not an expert on the subject, but a story teller – and a powerful explorer in my own life.

So when deciding on the adventure to date several men consecutively, I decided I was not going to accept “no” as an answer any more.  In fact, I was going to believe the opposite as the truth – that, beneath each “no” underlies a current of “yes.

Let me preface that for the past three years (in the hopes of better understanding and healing my own wounds around men – believing them to be unemotional, manipulative, elusive, distant….) I had done a fair amount of reading and research, and had discovered this: everything I believed prior was a lie.  They actually love to please.  In fact, it is really important that they feel acknowledged, valued and needed.  It fulfills them like nothing else can.

Knowing this information, I set forth on my adventures and asked to be taken roller skating. The day we were to go, my date mentioned that, because of rain, the rink might be full of kiddies and it would probably not be as much fun.  I agreed.

“So, he asked, What’s plan B?”

My old self would have come up with the pat response, (pitchy whiny tone…) “Oh, I don’t know… What do YOU want to do?” But I had my list of desires at the ready.  I had Plan B in the bag.

“Why don’t we go to the movies?”  I proposed.

We agreed on a local movie house.  But, which film?  I pulled up the schedule online and read.  First on the list?  The Great Gatsby.

(Now, I am a Baz Luhrmann fanatic – and I had, a few weeks early tried to cajole my son into going with me to no avail.)

“Nah.” he said.  “What else is playing?”

Disappointed (but not dissuaded) I read the remainder of the listings.

But I knew this… I knew I wanted to see The Great Gatsby and I knew he would enjoy pleasing me…

So when I was done reading, I looped back up to the description of The Great Gatsby, then relayed to him how I loved Baz Luhrmann, his choice of soundtrack music, his use of angles, camera speed, vivid color.  How he had a both bizarre and intriguing way of unfolding a story that captured my artistic sensibilities.  How I had loved Strictly Ballroom, Romeo and Juliet, Moulin Rouge.  How, if those movies were any indication, this story would be told with the same intensity and fervor.  How much I would so enjoy seeing this particular movie.  And how much I would appreciate him taking me.

“Yes,” became his answer.  Followed by the suggestion of dinner to my favorite restaurant next door.

I had not become irritated at the initial answer.  I had not ignored his request to hear the other options.  I had not thrown in the towel.

I had just chosen to believe that “yes” was the final answer.

I stayed clear on my desire and his change of heart came about not because he felt guilty, but because he recognized my passion for Baz Luhrmann movies, and knew that I would be happy if he could take me.  In so doing, his need to please was fulfilled.  And he could be my hero.

He was.  And I acknowledged the crap out of him over dinner – recognizing how the movie had not been his first choice, but how much it meant that he had said, “yes.”  How grateful I was to him for doing so.

He glowed.

I tell you this story risking you might find this, and me, manipulative.  I want to share how a true, heartfelt desire relayed to another ignites their desire to have it manifest on your behalf.  We all want to please.  We all love to give.

His saying “yes” to The Great Gatsby was his gift to me.  The joy I experienced watching the movie was my gift to him.

I was learning that no, doesn’t mean no.

Is that selfish?  Nah.

I believe I am worthy of a yes, as are you.

Because when desires are heard and honored, we all benefit, we all heal.

In love, service and pleasure,




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