“Shame is the lie someone told you about yourself.”
The prompt for Sinful Sunday this month is unedited. As a photographer, I found it inspiring. As a subject, I found it uncomfortable. The thought – the simple thought of an unedited image of myself was enough to spike my insecure-o-meter, making it shake and flash and generally make a nuisance out of itself, you know, like an insecure-o-meter does.
I wasn’t even going to participate in the prompt. It isn’t mandatory. Why would I choose to make myself uncomfortable and vulnerable? Oh. Because that’s how I’ve grown in all areas of my life. By making myself vulnerable and open.
I’ve spent the last couple of years taking hundreds of photos of myself. Finding out who I am through my art and exhibitionism. That doesn’t make it easy to share such vulnerable parts of myself that I have spent decades loathing. When you have yourself convinced of some truths, no matter how illogical they may sound to an observer, those truths are hard to dismantle and replace.
The good news is that sometimes you can completely let go of that shame and fear. The bad news? It’s a terrifying journey to get there. You see, the only way that I’ve found to lessen the shame is to expose the things I’m most ashamed of, the things that I was convinced needed to stay hidden away, to be safe and disgusting in the darkness. Expose them, shine light on them, share them, talk about them, really look at them. It’s nightmare fodder. Showing up to class naked.
By exposing these things, often times I learn that I’ve been wrong about how ugly parts of me are. Inside and out. Being met with love, kindness and empathy can be a healing balm for the wounds. And there are wounds. Healing can be an incredibly messy, painful process. Cutting away toxic, poisonous parts of yourself isn’t always pretty, even if you are replacing them with healthier alternatives.
So here I am. In all my glory. Trying to love my skin and everything it keeps in place. My body gives me pleasure, and brings my partners pleasure. That in itself is a reason to be thankful for it.