I’ve been reading “I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t)” by Brene Brown. It’s about shame.


Yes, it’s just as fun to read about as it is to squirm through when I’m feeling it. When that burn hits my chest of “oh fuck, what did I do?”

Yet here I am, doing this work for myself. Sometimes I can only read a few pages a day, sometimes I get through a chapter. I read until my brain says “enough” and I pick it up the next day.

A huge point she makes is that sharing our stories of shame set us free. I decided to tell you all a story today – one I don’t want to tell because it makes me squirm to think about it, but I want to be free. I sat to write this, and I looked at her blog and the graphic she has is this:


Here is a story about me being uncool.

Last Friday was the Dude’s sister’s high school graduation.

I asked if he was taking a “date”, he said he was supposed to be, but she was mad at him and he wasn’t sure. (Guess what she was mad at him about – if you guessed him being friends with me, you would be correct.)

I said that since I had watched his sister in a lot of softball and dance things this year that I would like to see her graduate and I might go. Unless he asked me specifically to not go.

He said it was up to me.

I texted his ex-wife. The woman who I have struggled with since high school, but who I have really tried to be friendly with this year. The woman who I have seemingly created a decent relationship with and I decided to reach out and ask if she was going to the graduation. She replied via text “Yes. Why?”

I used too many words to essentially ask “I wondered if I could sit with you.”

This? This was not easy for me. It was a risk to put myself out there, but based on the relationship I thought we had developed, I figured, well what the hell.

I texted his other sister that I might go and sit in the balcony behind a pole. She replied that I could sit with her. I elaborated that the reason I might be on my own was because of the Dude’s “date” and if sitting with me was too much of a “Team Dawn” landmine that I understood. Then I didn’t hear anything more from her. (She was in an area where she couldn’t use her phone much, so it was a lot situational in this case.)

I then heard back from the ex-wife. “I don’t know what is going on. I will be setting [sic] with the family.”

In my shock I replied, “That’s cool! Thanks for answering :)”

But . . .  smack me across the face.

“I don’t know what is going on.” as in “oh no honey – you are over THERE – I ain’t a part of this, I don’t know you, I don’t want to know, I ain’t asking.”

“I will be ‘setting’ with the family.” as in “Y’know, the FAMILY. The one that while I’m not married to it anymore, I’m still claiming. Oh yeah I know you were there too, but fuck you, I’m not a part of you, I’m FAMILY and you are NOT.”

Smack, smack, smack.

So I decided to not go. My heart was in the right place, but it took me someplace completely shitty, and it was no longer about supporting the sister, it was about tatted up skanks and me and my loss and my desperately wanting to belong. Which was nothing that needed to be a part of someone’s graduation – it was a day about her graduating high school and moving on, and I wasn’t ABOUT to fuck that up.

The Dude then texted “It’s not my place to tell you to not go, but I don’t think it will make you happy.” I replied that I’d already decided to not go, but thank you for actually being honest with me and not letting me walk into a bad situation.

I felt horrible. I felt burning shame for being the one left out. Cast out of this family that I have grown to love in the last year. Shame for reaching out to someone and being fucked off.

I put out on Twitter that I had that awful burning feeling of shame from doing the wrong thing. Karla Archer and Meagan Francis both instantly reached out with the messages “We’ve all been there.” Those short messages of connection, of not looking away from the uncool one in the corner – THOSE helped. Those quick seconds of compassion they showed me helped me move past that initial sting.

I read part of the Brown book that day and I got exactly what I needed from it.

Putting myself out there like that was NOT EASY. In fact, it was goddamned COURAGEOUS to be that vulnerable to people I loved and to the ex-wife who I am unsure of. I know my intentions were pure, and there was an absence of malice in anything I was trying to do. I just. wanted. to be. supportive. of this sister I really really like.

The ex-wife? Showed ZERO compassion. Despite the fact that as the EX WIFE, she has SURELY been in my shoes. She too, cares about this girl and wanting to see her on one of the most memorable days of her life. She could have been compassionate, “It sounds like you are in a tough spot, I’m taking the boys and I’m sure we will be sitting with the family – that might be uncomfortable for you . . . ” or “hell YEAH come sit with me and we will be the outlaws together!” but nope. She shoved me out.

Which is HER problem, not mine. I chose to take my tender heart and used it to be compassionate with myself.

“Well, Dawn, you tried and it didn’t work. You reached out to people and tried to be a part of it. It didn’t go well for you and that sucks. You hear me? THAT sucks. YOU do NOT suck. Your heart was in the right place. You had the grace to back away from a situation that would have only become more hurtful for you – and awkward for others. The moment you realized, “oh shit, bad call, mayday mayday” you backed off. You were even courteous and did your best to not put the older sister (who I truly adore) in an awkward position. You were courteous to the ex-wife by saying ‘thank you for answering’, even when she had not shown compassion. You reinforced the Dude actually being honest when he told you this was gonna go badly by thanking HIM for using his damn words. You did your best. Be gentle with yourself.”

A week later I still feel squirmy. I have told this story exactly twice. Now this is the third time. I stand before you, the extremely uncool girl. Yet, I am still standing, and I am trying to move forward.

I am making an oath to you. I will stand before you in all my uncool glory. I will be honest with you on this journey. All I ask is that you show me, and yourself and others compassion. xoxo