“Be proud of who you are, not ashamed of how someone else sees you.” ~Unknown
“When was your last relationship?” my hairdresser asked as she twisted the curling wand into my freshly blow-dried hair.
“Erm, around two years ago.” I lied.
“Why did you break up?” she asked.
“Oh, he had a lot of issues. It wasn’t really working out.” I lied again.
I had gotten quite good at this, lying to hide my shame over being in my early thirties and never having been in a serious relationship. I had learned to think on my feet; that way, no one would ever call me out. The last thing I needed was people’s pity and judgment.
I sat in my chair thinking about what she might say. Should I have told her that I have never been in a serious relationship? Would she be or judgmental? Would she feel sorry for me and think there was something wrong with me? That was a risk I was not willing to take.
I felt so much shame and embarrassment around my relationship status that I would avoid discussions about it at all costs. Or I’d lie or get defensive with family and friends who would bring it up, to the point that they noticed it was a sore subject and would avoid asking about my love life.
I learned to recognize how shame manifested in my physical body—the I felt when someone would ignorantly ask when I would be having children, the rapid heartbeat when asked if I would be bringing a plus-one to gatherings, and the knots in my stomach when I would be invited places that would consist of mainly couples.
The shame I felt around my relationship status had always prevented me from speaking my truth because I was afraid I would be judged harshly.
I felt like someone with an addiction who was in denial. I was so ashamed that I couldn’t bring myself to say
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