SAY IT BRAVE Message - Lindsey Hall
Dear Say It Brave Community,
It’s 10 p.m. To be precise: it's 10:17 p.m. and I’m eating comfort food on a bar stool placed near the end of my kitchen counter. I’ve been on this new kick lately of signing up for my roommate’s meal plans - she’s a chef - and I’ve found it an interesting, definitely enlightening insight into the spider legs of my eating disorder that still remain crossed.
Anyway, that’s not the point (I’ll write more about that in a future post). I’m eating comfort food, and it’s good.
And I’ve been working on this post for a week. That’s kind of a lie. I worked on it once, a week ago, and now I’d just like to say it’s been a week - to justify the outrageous amount of tardy time that I’m feeling an overt shame about now. Why shame? Well, isn’t that hard to truly pinpoint? Shame is a feeling I find I still feel often, and then let it inflate into other areas of my life, as it has been for the past week or so.
My cousin - she’s 37 years old - was diagnosed with stage two aggressive breast cancer last week. She has a partner, and kids: they’re 1 and 5. It goes without further explanation: they are children. And children, well damn, we are resilient, but we all soak up the pains of our youth, and I can’t help but wonder tonight - as I write this - how her sickness will sit with them throughout their lives.
And I notice I feel shame now, a bit, for wondering that - knowing none of this is her fault.
I was supposed to submit a post to this community last Friday. Then, my mom called Thursday - while I was out, floating around at a restaurant with friends, and she told me about my cousin. Standing there in the restaurant, I felt shame roll in, once the initial rawness of the news set. Maybe shame for being healthy. Shame for hearing the diagnosis - and then having to return to a group of friends and continue on with the night.
Shame for not wanting to call her right then. What do I say? How do I say it?
Shame for thinking “Well, how can I write right now?” and feeling like I was making her sickness a scapegoat.
I didn’t write that night. And then I felt more shame.
I notice that when I sink into shame narratives like this, my lil’ brain spider webs into some dark places.
It makes it difficult to write.
“Maybe nothing means anything,” I drone on in my anxious, shamed head. “Am I just writing things to make myself feel better? Maybe everything I’ve ever written is self-serving.” It’s all so complicated - writing. And it’s all so complicated - being human. And isn’t it interesting how one feeling can spin out into a mass tangled web of repetitive thought? Shame begets shame.
As I’m spinning out here tonight, in this interesting shame web, my mom calls: sitting here on my kitchen bar stool, struggling through what it is I really want to write - “Hey,” she says to me softly. “I’m flying home to Texas next week, if you want to join - no pressure. She’s getting the port put in.”
And though I’m feeling confused right now, and feeling unable to say or give back anything substantial - I whisper back to her, softly: “Yeah, I’m there Mom. Let me know your flight times and I’ll book mine.”
I hear the relief in her voice. “Thank you,” she says. “Thankful you’ll be there to help.”
And while the shame has yet to lift tonight - and the truth is I have no idea how I’ll help, or what I can do, I’m reminded again, in this moment, that the only way to confront it - the only way to battle the little demons in our heads: Is to simply choose to move forward anyway, whether the demons are in tow right now or not. To just choose to push on in the discomfort anyway, as I’m doing wrapping this post up.
“I am here,” I’m writing tonight. “A human with complex emotions and feelings.”
And I’ll be here - pushing onward, showing up - no matter the shame.
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