Back in the mid eighties, I cared for a 33 year-old man in the critical care unit where I worked in Phoenix, AZ. This dear man was a very successful jeweler in an affluent area of Los Angeles, and he was dying of end-stage liver disease caused by years of alcohol ingestion. His abdomen looked like a pregnant woman at term with triplets, and his blood was no longer clotting. It took a very gentle stroke of the pink oral sponge to keep his mouth and teeth clean from the bleeding gum tissues. Her son lying in a coma, his mother shared with me her son always felt ashamed for being a “half-breed” and this was the reason for his excessive alcoholic beverage consumption. This dying man’s mother was Caucasian and his father was Peruvian.
At the time, I held a hidden dream to visit Peru one day because I love the culture, the mountains, and I love to travel. I could not understand why anyone would be ashamed for being born to a Peruvian. Each of us has received beautiful gifts from our ancestors. Put aside the war and conflicts humans have in the world, each person brings unique flavors to the collective table of life.
On the Map of Consciousness, by David Hawkins, shame is the lowest vibration. I’m starting a series of articles about the vibrational levels of consciousness, the role they play in our lives and how we can change our perspectives and vibrations. Certainly, I’m not a psychologist and don’t pretend to be one. I’m exploring the lessons we spirits are learning, from my human experiences and information I’ve read.
For most of us humans, we have experienced shame in varying degrees. Stealing a cookie from the cookie jar and being caught is one early example. Even when we are being “called out” in public, and our faces become flushed with the dilation of our blood vessels in our skin, our shame is expressed in the form of embarrassment.
Having modesty or humility can also be an expression of shame. I remember at age 12, from my Catholic education, I truly believed it was a sin to wear a bikini while swimming in a pool or in the ocean. By age 17, I gave up this belief. I figured that I was not going to go to Hell because of the clothes I wore while swimming.
As far as fashion goes, each person has to decide for themselves how they want to express themselves through the fabric and styles they wear. Each person chooses to follow a religious doctrine or not. In my travels, I found there were protocols to follow, such as wearing clothing with sleeves is mandatory in churches and cathedrals in other countries. I learned it is a matter of respect and honor of those we choose to be with, and my expression of who I am, that guides my decisions in clothing.
We become embarrassed when our shame becomes public. Here’s another “bikini” story. This is an example of not being aware of a shame situation until it was brought to my attention. I purchased my first and only white bikini from a catalog after my first divorce at age 27. My brother and sister invited me to go “tubing” down the Salt River in Phoenix. Floating on inner tubes is a popular summer recreation to cool off from the hot temperatures in the desert. I wore my new bikini and brought along a blue work shirt to cover up from the broiling sun. There is a place along the river called Blue Point Beach where people like to gather. This is where we stopped on our river trip. When I slipped off my tube and walked in the knee-deep water, all of a sudden a group of guys were whistling and howling in my direction. I looked around and could not figure out what they were all excited about. I swung my head around and saw my sister yelling at me to “Get down in the water!”
I followed her instruction and swam back out to her and my brother. I asked my sister, “What’s going on?” Apparently, this white bikini fabric became see-through when it became wet. Needless to say, this was the last time I wore a white bathing suit! The amount of shame I experienced was relatively short lived because as soon as I hopped back on my inner tube and headed down the river with my blue cotton work shirt on, the memory faded quickly. And I still don’t think I’m going to Hell over this wardrobe malfunction either.
A psychologist noted that shame and humiliation starts in our very early childhood, as babies. We will look at this in the next article.
Next week: Shame & Humiliation: Part II
Blessings and love!
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