The Shame Prom: “Where everyone is invited to dance”
by Amy Ferris and Hollye Dexter
“We live in an atmosphere of shame. We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.”
– George Bernard Shaw
It’s THE BIG one – that big, bad, ugly little (or big) secret we don’t want to share.
It keeps us from being intimate, truthful, fearless.
It keeps us oh so small.
It’s the sad, funny, joyous, difficult, liberating, humorous, and HOLY SHIT… enlightening stories.
It’s life changing, and life altering.
It’s there, in the back of the drawer, hidden next to the sexy lingerie that is never, ever worn.
It is a companion, an unwelcome visitor.
It comes at the wrong moment.
A destroyer of dreams, a pervasive darkness; an enabler.
It arrives in the form of anxiety attacks, cold sweats and sleepless nights.
It has brought down countries, damaged political careers, upended the financial world, shaken both religious and spiritual communities.
It is a stoic face in public, a tearstained face in private.
Aretha sang about it.
Ted Swaggart prayed to almighty God about it.
Elizabeth Edwards wrote and spoke about it.
Angelina Jolie had it tattooed to remind her of it.
Newt Gingrich begged forgiveness because of it.
Tiger Woods lied because of it.
Oprah Winfrey did seventeen shows on it.
Bill Clinton addressed the nation three times in the name of it.
Laura Nyro wrote lyrics about it.
Ruth Madoff lives in hiding because she is filled with it.
The shame we carry from our mothers, our fathers, our siblings, our friends, our co-workers. The shame we hide, the shame we pass on to our children; the shame full, the shame less. The shame on you and the shame on me.
It comes in all colors.
It prevents us from loving, giving, sharing, holding, touching, kissing, opening our hearts, and souls.
It is worn by men and women and girls and boys, alike.
It does not discriminate.
It is heart breaking and funny and scary and enlightening and connects us, just like dots.
The shame of … dropping out of school.
Of kissing a girl.
Of kissing a boy.
Of loving the same sex.
Of going to jail.
Of having AIDS or HIV or STD.
Of loving the wrong skin color.
Of shop lifting.
Of wearing briefs, not boxers.
Of having no money.
Losing a job.
Losing your virginity.
Losing your home.
Losing your mind.
The shame of sex.
And yes, big breasts.
The shame of selling out.
Hollye and I are co-editing this extraordinary anthology (tentatively titled) THE SHAME PROM where we will be sharing & writing about our deepest shame – and in the process offering a hand, a shoulder, a box of Kleenex, tremendous hope, a bit of enlightenment, a bucket of wisdom, and unyielding courage so others who have lived with their own shame realize they too have the option to leave it behind, move on, and yes, YES… let it go. Our deepest, most fervent wish is to wipe SHAME off the face of the earth. We know, a big gigantic wish … but we’re passionate, determined women.
Shame is the silent thief of our life’s greatest joy. This is a conversation that Amy and I have been having for a year. We share our secrets with one another, encourage each other to write about it, and in the process of releasing it to the world, we are transformed. We are freer to be our true selves. To live passionately and without fear. And we want that for every woman, and every man.
Each time we mustered up the courage to expose our truth, we were inundated with messages from others who in turn shared their personal stories. It was beautiful to discover how truly alike and connected we are, and that we share so many common fears. Let’s face it, we’re all carrying some heavy shame, and you know what? We’re tired. So why walk the Earth pretending any longer?
In this anthology, we will face that universal nightmare, to strip naked and walk brazenly through school. Twenty gifted writers have agreed to hold hands and take this plunge into the deep end together, with soul-baring honesty and humor, in the hopes that our readers will follow. In addition, we will have an interactive website where we invite you all to join us at the Shame Prom – a place where we can wear our ugly dresses then shed them. Where we parade our shame in public, dance it around on our arm, and take awkward pictures with it. But afterward, we’re not going to roll around in the backseat making out with it. No! We’re breaking up with Shame.
Are you with us?