Free Yourself from the Shackles of Shame

April 10, 2017

Dear….You,

Spring is my favorite season, and Passover and Easter are my favorite holidays. While I’m not super religious, I do reflect on the meanings of these holidays and celebrate, and from what I’ve learned Passover is the celebration of when the Israelites were freed from slavery out of Egypt, and Easter is the celebration of when Jesus was freed from the world into Heaven. Both holidays celebrate people overcoming adversity, and in celebration, there is the best food, wine, and company. Sign me up!

In light of the Spring season and holidays, I’ve been asking, what do I need to free myself from so that I may continue to bloom? 

I found my answers in meditation, opening my eyes to what’s around me and curiously listening. I found I need to free myself from thinking I am unworthy because of where I come from, because the catastrophic effects of living in shame tally up over time and are heavy, and I want to live in Light, not Dark. Thank you dark slaving thoughts; you’ve taught me well, and now it’s time for me to let you go. This Spring/Passover/Lenten Season, I free myself from shame and move deeper into Life by breaking my silence, self-compassion, and changing my thought direction.

A few stories:

When I was in college and joined a sorority, something I never planned for, I felt so ashamed of where I’d come from because I compared myself to the other ladies (Ladies, never compare yourselves to others. It robs you of the Joy in front of you and nothing is worth sacrificing Joy). Most of the young ladies grew up upper-middle-class, had Daddy’s credit card, didn’t have to work, didn’t have to pay their own dues, and hadn’t yet experienced the same adversity I had. These women knew their family members (aunts, uncles, cousins), knew where they came from and were given everything they needed and more (aka Millennials I envied). I didn’t grow up with anything like that. We had totally different perspectives on the world; we were foreigners. I felt so unworthy to be part of what I thought was a classy group of ladies I wanted to learn from, that I volunteered for three years to be on their executive board to prove my worth. Cinderella scrubbing away at the floors.  I was VP Finance for 2 years and Chapter President (CP) for a year. In fact, when I was running for CP, my own sorority sisters called me white trash, behind my back and to my face, re-affirming I had no right to be there and throwing in my face like dirt my weakness: the place I came from. Not even a man has broken my heart as bad as that sorority did. I thought these people were my friends. Albeit I was also working 40 hours a week and taking junior level accounting courses (Ewwwww!); something had to give, and it was sleep. I cried many nights to God, praying for strength to carry on, to continue seeking. Every time I saw a sister, I pushed passed the negative thoughts and leaned in with curiosity and a hug. I fought with kindness. Not only did I end up elected CP, but I forgave the people saying those hateful things about me. We also turned the chapter around that next year. Thankfully the ones who stuck by me during that time are some of my best friends today. Regardless of my insecurities at that time, I feel so lucky to have met all of those people. Here’s how I am now going to think about this story: Trina, kudos! You didn’t retaliate to meanness with meanness, you retaliated with kindness; you didn’t run away and hide, you faced it; who cares that you came from a different place, you learned we all come from different places; where you come from doesn’t matter, it’s in the past, what matters is who you are now; I’m sorry you felt unworthy, at some point most people struggle with this; you had every right to be there, and you have a right to be here now; also, you learned you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone; keep shining girl!

When I first moved to New York and worked for Ernst and Young (E&Y) in 2009 during the financial crisis, I was one of two people within the Financial Services Office E&Y had moved to NY from out of state. I still didn’t believe I was good enough. When I learned where my colleagues had gone to school, NYU, Notre Dame, Columbia, Michigan, Lehigh, amongst others, I felt like nothing. I was embarrassed that I went to the University of North Texas (UNT), a school I picked because I was paying for it and it’s what I could afford. I didn’t know what I was doing in NYC because I couldn’t get passed not only the school I attended but, again, the place I’d come from. I wanted to feel like I belonged, so I spent two years trying to prove my worth by slaving away to their clocked demands. I still couldn’t work as fast as the born-and-raised New Yorker, but I tried. I wish I had believed in myself more. I moved back to Texas when my Father (the step-Father who raised me and is forever my hero) had a stroke and my youngest sister was failing out of school; I knew I could nurture them both back to life. They nurtured me back, too. I will say I met some of the most amazing, talented, smart and loving people in NY that I still keep in touch with today; in fact, one of them is coming to see me in May! Despite my insecurities at that time, I feel so lucky to have met all of those people. Here’s how I am now going to think about this story: Trina, kudos! You didn’t need a big name school to get to NYC; they moved you there because you’re smart and hard-working; I’m sorry you felt unworthy at that time, it’s ok though; now you know you are worthy, and how cool is it that you ended up at the same place at the right time with all those amazing people despite where you came from, a testament to your determination; it’s ok you tried to prove yourself again, most of us do that at some point; you learned you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone, and for the record, you’re totally worthy; keep shining girl!

When my mom committed suicide last March, again I felt ashamed and unworthy, this time of Randy, his family and the life we shared together. I thought, “Now I am forever stamped; there’s no denying the crazy world I came from, and how could anyone love someone who’s mother committed suicide?” I thought for sure Randy would end our relationship because he’d feel embarrassed by my family, and I would have understood why. I was surprised to see he loved me deeper. Thank you, sweetheart, for being so kind to me when I fell apart. I am forever your angel. Here’s how I am now going to think about this story: Trina, you’re not forever stamped; you’re not your mother; others have dealt with similar things, others have very different struggles, but the key is so many people this past year reached out to you and shared their struggles; reached out! You have a great ability to listen to others and empathize with them; you are a spiritual warrior and healer in this world. Also, instead of shutting down, you’re opening up more than you ever have, you’re using your voice to connect; keep doing that, keep shining girl.

What I now see after writing this is that shame has taught me very valuable lessons, and that we don’t have to stay in that place, that it doesn’t define us; where we come from doesn’t define us, either. We can open up and try on different perspectives that re-connect us with others and ourselves. I guess the scariest part of this post was allowing myself to feel the deep roots of shame, name it, and share it. It’s not easy admitting insecurities, but it’s freeing as hell.

Thank You, God, People, World, and Universe. I hear You and will continue the good fight for Freedom. Thank you Spring for igniting a new flame year after year. I will continue to look for you. Thank you to the previous and current generations of all people everywhere who have fought for freedom, you are worth celebrating! And finally,

I am not ashamed of where I come from. I am not ashamed of where I come from. I am not ashamed of where I come from. I am grateful.

What do you need to free yourself from?

Love,

Trina LaShae Segura

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