Shame, shame, shame


Today I am dealing with serious feelings of shame. In my impulsivity, I wrote that one line e-mail to my TA. “OR maybe the class could be more informative and the homework could be more related to the exams. Just a thought.” I got this in response:

“I’m sorry you feel that way. As a TA, I don’t decide what is on the syllabus, homework or on the exam. If you have any questions or concern, feel free to stop by Li’s office hour or Help room on Thursday morning. I’ll be happy to explain things to you regarding questions on the homework or practice exam. I have forwarded your thought to your teacher. In the future, I think It is better that you share your thoughts directly with him instead of through me. Have a good weekend!”

This is the guy who 1) told us a problem on the practice exam was just wrong, when it wasn’t. And 2) has no idea how the professor teaches so when he taught us he taught us completely different methods, confusing us right before an exam. 3) Flat out said, go get extra help.

Now 1) Do I leave it at this and let him be an asshole with the upper hand? 2) Respond and tell him that I was responding to him telling us to get tutoring instead of being a visible presence in class like all my other TAs are in other courses.

The Shame in me says, do nothing. Now you’ve done it. You stuck your foot in the mud and you’re stuck. You’re an awful person and you shouldn’t have said anything to begin with. Now your professor knows this response, which was not actually your goal, and you’re going to be considering a piece of shit.

Alright fuck it. I wrote back. Because I don’t think he should just be able to write me off like that. I said, “I was responding to you, because you suggested we get extra help, not the professor. So if you don’t want me to talk to you, that’s fine. I won’t. But to totally rule out talking about how I feel about the class is pretty intense.”

Maybe it’s not the right thing to say but I am mad at this class, and him. Part of the reason I started this blog was so people could see how my mind works. This is how it works. It’s ugly, it’s intense, it can be mean, and it is full of doubt and shame. This little interaction is absorbing a huge amount of my mental energy. I don’t want it to. I want it to go away. I want to be able to back away from the situation but my brain won’t let me. It’s stuck on a loop because it’s a negative thing that I feel like I did and am embarrassed about.

We have to be vulnerable to be creative, innovative, to affect change, according to Brene Brown. But being vulnerable sucks. I have serious regrets about sharing things in my life. I want to be able to say, “Fuck it.” So far only good things have come from it. People have been positive, I get a lot of great feedback or people sharing their stories with me. But there is still a loud voice in my head that says, “What about the people not talking? What are they thinking?” Then I ask, “Do I want to be brave? Do I really want to be courageous?” Dr. Brown sited the word courageous as particularly apt when talking about storytelling, because it comes from a word that means to tell a story with your whole heart.

I think I was meant to tell stories. I’m not always in a mood where I can do that, but overall I think that is one of the reasons I’m here. I love to write, I love to write about my experiences, and I love to learn from writing and research. I want to tell stories with my whole heart. But sometimes my whole heart is broken. Like the past couple of days I haven’t felt solid. Yesterday was a two Xanax day and I went to bed at 7pm. Granted I’m also sick so that lowers my defenses, but it’s also this feeling of shame that I didn’t do as well on my exam as I would have liked, and then the response from the TA that made me feel like a piece of shit. It makes me want to close my heart off, to become invulnerable. If I can’t feel it, it can’t hurt me.

I don’t know. I feel very insubstantial right now.

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