A while ago, I wrote about sin in The Courage to Sin. That writing was long and laborious. I felt as though I was giving birth to a 100 pound yam.
It’s not the most comfortable topic for me. All of my writing boogie monsters come out when I even get close to having a thought to blog about it. There are a lot of people invested in maintaining the idea of ‘sin’ as a way to keep us on our best behavior. But boogie monsters or not, the shame is here and I know I have to write about it.
This is a picture of Jody – a beautiful big horse whose gift it is to help heal. Jody taught me something profoundly beautiful about the sacredness of our animal bodies.
I’m coming back again to a big piece of shame that’s been stuck in my body for way too long. This is shame that stems from projected sinfulness, meaning sinfulness that others believe is true about women and the world. It’s shame that has to do with sexuality and sensuality, with the power of women, and with women’s joy and passion.
This shame is dark and sticky. It feels as if it resides in my chest, covering over my heart, and even making its way down into my solar plexus and belly.
The shame keeps things pretty darn stuck. It causes me to think twice about using my voice, about writing what I feel called to write. It leads me to be really cautious and careful, to stay away from taking risks.
This shame borne out of projected sinfulness is a ploy used to keep women in check – to keep us small, silent, and dutiful.
It’s not like this is the first time I’ve met it face-to-face. But, this time is different. I realize that in the past, there were many ‘reasons’ to listen to it…but upon closer listening I’ve found all of those reasons aren’t reasonable. They are about as reasonable as the very idea that’s been passed around that women, like Eve, are sinful.
The more aware I become of the shame that is stuck in my body, the more clear I am that a) it is not mine, and b) I don’t want to carry it around any longer for those who decided long ago that I should.
I mean, why would I? Why would I go along with such a cockamamie story that tells me I should feel shame about who and what I am because I am a woman?
In the past, I’ve circled around the shame, mucking up in the shame, trying to figure out where it came from, what it meant, and what I had to do to get rid of it. That worked to a point, but now I see it’s more helpful to back up and look at the whole picture. This isn’t remorse or guilt or something I am feeling because I did something to hurt another. No, this is cultural, religious, systemic and toxic shame that comes from this fishbowl I live in.
Dr. Brené Brown writes that shame is “the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging”.
Well, in the story that holds Eve was bad, the same story that constantly tells us women we should feel shame for what we are, women are seen as unworthy of love and belonging.
The question is…to what world do we want to belong? Do we want to belong in a story that holds that women are sinful? Or would we rather belong in a story that holds that all of life is sacred and holy?
Mary Oliver wrote:
“You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
What if Eve was only letting the soft animal of her body love what it loved?
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I’ve decided that’s how I want to live my life. Shame be damned. I am a soft animal and I know what I love.