I was steeling myself for an uncomfortable situation.
G's science fair.
While this might seem like an innocuous event to most, this was not the case for me.
I prefer to hide the ugly.
When I don't feel good about myself, I stay home.
But not yesterday.
My duty as mother prevailed and despite instinct, I put myself out there.
I mean really out there.

Have I ever told you that I do not like my feet?
I have very long toes, and both big toes are shorter than the second toes.
They are quite remarkable. I know this, because...people have remarked.
Although I have become better about my foot shame, as much as possible though, I've avoided exposing them.
Yesterday was a different story.
G needed an adult foot for her experiment involving Rogaine and toenail growth.
She tried to use Steve's toenail, but since the experiment called for painting the toenail to record the growth, he declined.
Bravely, I allowed her to use my foot.
With accompanying documentation, my exposure for the sake of science was complete.
I thought that this was just a school-time display (for this is how K's science fair was just a week ago)
so imagine my dismay when I discovered that parents were expected to be there.
All parents. Including me and a poster board full of unflattering photographs of my toes.
Shame is an interesting thing.
Shame, sometimes confused with guilt, both seem intertwined with embarrassment.
As I understand it,
Shame is when you fear abandonment as a result of people finding out something about you that you've kept hidden.
Supposedly, guilt is when you fear punishment.
I thought guilt meant feeling horrible after you've chosen to do something bad. Period. Punished or not.
In his book, 'Healing The Shame That Binds You,' author John Bradshaw states that toxic shame is induced, inside children, by all forms of child abuse.
Incest and other forms of child sexual abuse can cause particularly severe toxic shame.
Toxic shame often induces what is known as complex trauma in children who cannot cope with toxic shaming as it occurs and who dissociate the shame until it is possible to cope with it.
Psychologist Anne Gross writes a very informative piece about overcoming the toxic emotion of shame here.
It is a good read for anyone who lives with shame or loves someone who might suffer from debilitating shame.
A few weeks ago,
I wrote about Brene Brown and vulnerability.
Brown discovered that people like to be connected.
Shame (fear of disconnection) is what severs connection.
She explained that shame is a part of us that says,
"is there something about me that if other people know it or see it, that I won't be worthy of connection?"
"No one wants to talk about shame. The less you talk about it, the more you have it."
(both quotes from her TED talk)

Back to the science fair.
In an effort to shield myself, I wore a hat.
I walked in but immediately felt extremely exposed.
I endured it for as long as I could, then I promptly left--leaving G to catch a ride with JB.
On my way out, I told G that if she won, she was to turn to the other Asian mother in the room and call her "mom" so that people would think it was that woman's foot. (G did not win)

Seriously though, please understand that I am not just dealing with a simple case of Toe Dysmorphic Disorder.
In the interest of vulnerability let me allow you a little peek into my kimono.
I weed-whack through many issues that have secretly plagued me throughout my life, and am fortunate that I am relatively upright however, I realize that residual crap will bob up to the surface until I learn to love, accept and forgive myself.
When I start loving myself unconditionally (not to be mistaken for egotistically), then I will be better equipped to love others.
So today I shall start by loving my toes.
Every inch of them.