After having taken a photo with Vanessa, a woman we’ve known for years, to put on Facebook, I got back to the room and set about editing the photo. I looked critically at it and then began to crop.
This is what the photo looked like:
Photo description: Vanessa and Joe behind me as I sit in my wheelchair. The photo shows us all, in a vertical shot, standing or sitting full bodied.
I then cropped the picture cutting out the bottom half of me, leaving only the top half of me, erasing the largest part of my body, my belly and my legs. This is what that looked like:
as described in text above
Then I began the process of uploading the edited picture to Facebook.
As I was doing that I was thinking about my keynote speech tomorrow and about how part of it was how we all need to claim who we are and thereby push shame aside. I looked at the edited picture. I looked at the original picture.
I suddenly saw how shame had become an unconscious habit. Shame was just something I did.
When I realized that, without even thinking much about it, I had erased a part of who I was, the way I existed in the world, I felt such pain.
Why? Why does shame live when I purposely don’t water it, I don’t set it in the sun, I don’t nourish it. But, then maybe I do.
I erased the cropped picture and put up the original:
This is who I am.