I’ve been pondering this question all day. And I’ve come to understand that the things we don’t want others to name, are the things of which we are ashamed. They are the traits we hate about ourselves, and have not yet owned, and hung on the laundry line for all to see.
Think about it. If someone accused me of discriminating against the colour red, it would be meaningless to me. The aspersion has no intersection with my reality.
But get a little closer to home, and my hackles might rise slightly. Accuse me of drinking too much wine, for example, and I may acknowledge that I often exceed the RDA, but I’m OK with it. I don’t like your implied judgement, but my own assessment of my alcohol consumption tells me that I’m healthy and not an addict. But it’s an area I keep an eye on, for the same reason I might bristle at your comment. We’re entering sensitive territory, but I don’t hide anything. I am not a closet drinker.
But the thing I really, really don’t want to hear? That I abandoned my children in 1997, when I fled to the other side of the world.
Because, no matter how I sugar coat it, actually, I did.
Oh, I can justify the act (my life was being threatened, the elder two weren’t living with me, the youngest spent much of her time to emancipation here with me). But even after 15 years, the shame persists. I am only redeemed by the continued love and understanding and awesomeness of my three amazing children.
I was, I believed, saving the only life I could save. But to pretend there was no major fallout in their lives, that they didn’t feel abandoned, is self-serving and just plain wrong.
I’ve named my shame. You can now accuse me, and I’ll not be defensive.