Shame, creativity and religion

I was reading Brené Brown again and she wrote basically that shame prevents us from being vulnerable. And that inability to be vulnerable prevents us from being truly ourselves. Not surprisingly, that lack of true vulnerability prevents us from being creative.

I can attest that this is true. As much as I think I’ve gotten over my religion issues in particular, I realize how much I haven’t. And until I read that passage from Brené Brown, I didn’t realize how much of my religious issues are about deep-seated shame and how much that’s inhibiting my creativity.

For example: I mentioned that I got that invitation from the editor of a Jesuit magazine to pitch them. I want to write about how having an LGBT kid created a conflict with the Catholic Church that I couldn’t resolve. I got his permission to write about it and he was proud that I wanted to, as he also feels that the church doesn’t respect his journey either.

But then my husband said I should read the Catechism about what it really said about LGBT issues. I did read it and I came away with the same feelings I had before. I know it wasn’t his intention but being told to read the Catechism before writing it felt like it was shaming me into silence.

I feel like I can’t really write about what I think about the Catholic Church for fear of offending him. After all, he’s going through cancer and his faith really helps him. I don’t want to discourage that in any way. But at the same time, I’m in this weird place of both being okay with him being Catholic but not wanting to be so myself.

Essentially, shame over having the “wrong” view blocked my creativity. Fortunately (I guess) I have so much freelance work lately that it would take extra time I don’t really have to pitch a new magazine. But I know that’s ultimately just an excuse.

The truth is that my whole issue with the Catholic Church is rooted in shame, which I hadn’t put together until today. Shame that I can’t feel what other people feel. Shame that I am not motivated to put in the effort to try harder to believe something I don’t really believe.

And let’s face it: there’s still a lot of anger in there, too. I’ve lost good friends over my pursuit of a religion that I didn’t agree with in the end anyway. Yes, I know that calls into question whether they were true friends in the first place.

But I’m angry at myself for not being able to believe. I’m also angry at the fact that I’ve spent so many years of my life struggling with this. I doubt I would have spent all these years trying to believe it if it weren’t the first really big issue my husband and I absolutely disagree about.

I’m angry that I feel like I can’t really express how I feel because I don’t want my husband to feel unsupported. I told him about my LGBT kid granting me permission to write about his issues and that he felt I was supporting him in doing so…and then I felt guilty for telling that to my husband.

I’m so used to telling him everything that sometimes I don’t realize there’s some stuff I shouldn’t tell him. But I’m not good at keeping secrets and I think they’re toxic.

If I really admit it, I’m pissed off that it feels like religion has driven this wedge between me and my husband, not to mention between me and several friends. My husband and I can accept each other for having different views but it would be better and easier if they were the same. I’m the one who would have to change and I just don’t want to. And that feels like it’s not an acceptable viewpoint to hold.

The religion issue is one where I still feel a lot of shame, which goes back to my childhood. When I visited my parents last fall, my dad asked me if I remembered when they were so involved in church. My sister doesn’t. But of course I do. It was the main reason people at school thought I was weird. And though my dad denied it, I’m still convinced that some bad stuff was done to me by others in the church.

It’s like I have a repeating pattern of alienating the people closest to me because I can’t share their religion. My husband has said I didn’t try that hard to make the Catholic religion work for me because I didn’t pray rosaries, Catholic prayers, or read the Bible. Who knows? Maybe that’s true. But it also seems like something as deeply personal as spiritual faith shouldn’t require forcing it upon yourself in order to make it work. You should have some innate desire to do it.

I’ve also realized that I don’t really have a more comforting vision of God or a “higher power” to replace it with–and I want to. Lots of people reject organized religion and still feel a closeness to what they define as “God.” I can’t seem to feel that either and I wish I could.

I think that this is ultimately what’s presenting a roadblock to a lot of my creativity. I used to write all the time, for hours a day, and I greatly want that back. I can write corporate articles about medical conditions or senior living facilities (the bulk of my work right now.) But when it comes to any other writing, I still feel horribly blocked. It used to be my greatest source of peace and now I feel cut off from it because I feel like I have to censor myself too much.

I think the answer to getting it back is finally making peace with all of my shame related to religion. I have to make peace with the fact that it didn’t work for me and I feel like I failed. If only I had tried harder, maybe it would’ve worked for me. But then that leads back to being angry that I feel a need to change myself.

I just don’t believe in it. I tried but I guess I didn’t try hard enough. I’m not sure that I really want to believe in it but I feel like I should.

I have to figure out how to make peace with this and I hope that when and if I do, I’ll get my creativity back, too.

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