I spoke with a dear friend the other day, and we reminisced about our first meeting. He waxed, sadly, about how I had sat in his office, nearly collapsing into myself, imploding beneath the downward spiraling pressure of guilt, shame and fear over what I had endured at our university in the months prior. He reawakened how I had been torturing myself over being sexually assaulted, brutally violated, and crushed under the weight of my subsequent tanking performance. He then waxed gratefully, at my—long but successful—journey out of rock bottom, and into a present happy healthy wholeness.
It made me think deeply about the nature of embarrassment versus shame, about the acidic corrosion that can occur when we don’t understand that we are so much greater than what we have been through. When we don’t understand that it is possible to transcend anything...to transcend everything.
Often, we realize that it is possible to overcome embarrassment. Given, it may take prolonged moments of reliving an uncomfortable exchange, or public folly. It may take us weeks, months on end to rebuild our self esteem from a vaudevillian nightmare, but eventually—with exploration, self-forgiveness, and perspective—we come to believe, to know and acknowledge, that our inner selves, our souls and spirits, the impact that we have on the world around us, is exponentially greater than that of one mere wobble.
So, why do we let some things take root, and seemingly attach themselves to our core sense of worthiness? Why is it more difficult with so-called mortification?
It shouldn’t be.
Our power (and forgive me Gentlemen for a moment, as I speak from my particular point of view) especially the power that we innately have as women—is omniscient to our circumstance. There have been ancient wars fought over us, countries created, boundaries erased, movements declared, entire species birthed. We have unique capabilities that no men posses. Just as men have those unique from us. As mammals, we are, simply, magnificent, and perfectly complimentary, in our distinction.
A world imbalanced without both sexes—all sexes—embodying their full power, filling out the space already reserved for each of them, is lopsided. And will only tilt more and more so if not rectified. Guilt, shame, profound fear are the most corrosive of all human emotions if left unchecked, unchallenged. They eat away at the finely tuned centrifugal force that allows our earth, our galaxy, our universe to spin so beautifully, so perfectly, so synergistically. When we witness one of our beautiful brethren or sistren imploding with guilt, shame or paralyzing fear, it is imperative to offer solace, to give support, to help heal and patch that which could jeopardize the brilliant choreography of our existence. This beautiful soul with whom I had reminisced had done just that for me, at a pivotal time in college, when my life quite literally depended on it.
“Leave no man or woman behind” isn’t just a saying—it is a biological calling, a coven that we take the moment we join this earthly realm. It is our human oath, our sacred vow, to protect the very balance of our ecosystem. And it is essential. Like a wad of bubble gum on the edge of a Potter’s wheel, ignoring it can distort the momentum, destroy the power of the engine, misshape our experience as we know it.
The reclamation of self is our first step in keeping orbital, cyclical harmony. And anything we can do to instigate that, to promulgate it, to foster it, doesn’t just rebuild one—it rebuilds the whole, and allows for the very sustenance of life. This might sound grandiose, but why toy with the possibility of a single lifetime of suffering...and in turn, the possibility of total extinction of our joy, our relationships, the entire experience of our species...?
Let us take this moment, right here, right now, and focus on rebuilding ourselves, reconstructing that which has eaten away at our perfectly symmetrical balance. Do the work, look inside, to heal what has been crippled by toxicity. No one deserves a body, a mind, a spirit ravaged by guilt, shame, fear. We are all human. We have all seen and experienced our share of horrifying incidents. We all deserve to learn what it takes to feel good. If not for yourself at the impetus of your journey, then start for those in your immediate orbit. Get better so that you can be better to those who surround you. Get to know and understand your value until you witness, you feel, you embody the magnitude of your delicate symbiosis, of the greater delicate symbiosis—and that which can throw it off. You are not alone.
We truly are all in this together.
Polo REO Tate was born in Lansing, Michigan, where her family has deep ties to the community. Her Great Great Grandfather was Ransom Eli Olds (R.E. Olds), a pioneer and prolific inventor most notably responsible for inventing the first internal combustion automobile—the Oldsmobile. Growing up, [...]