How Uninvited Feelings of Shame Got Me Good

Updated: Jun 27, 2021

Story by Titash

I have had social anxiety since early childhood. My father is a very bizarre individual who wanted to be so progressive that he eventually became a bit regressive as a parent.

I have been meaning to learn cycling, flying a kite and swimming since childhood. When I was 8, my father bought my sister and I a bicycle. I was too shy to go out on the road and start learning something in front of absolute strangers. So, after one awkward lesson by my sister, I refused to continue.

That's when my father told me that cycling is supposed to be learned on your own and went on neglecting how I felt. Needless to say, I didn't try it on my own.

When I wanted to take swimming lessons, he brought that incident up saying that I couldn't even peddle on ground, he didn't expect me to do it on water.

On my will to learn to fly a kite, he said that it was not a skillset that was really important to have in life. Because of his comments and zero motivation as a parent to make me learn these things, none of this worked out.

Growing up, I saw all the kids around me being able to do at least one out of these with ease. I battled with the awkwardness and shame for years.

Everytime people talk about these childhood experiences of crashing into a tree during their first cycling, or flying kites especially during festivals, or almost drowning when swimming, I feel this immense pain and feeling of shame of not having these basic skills and not seeking for help to learn as well.

It was very hurtful. It still hurts. I was awkward, shy, fragile and anxious. I yearned for some support. Some people often laugh when they hear about my inability to do these things, that creates more shame.

In my preteens, I was extremely biased, opinionated, hotheaded, controlling yet I managed to make a lot of friends who accepted me the way I was. Probably, these characteristics hid my feelings of shame.

My father brought us up in a liberal manner as he is a progressive individual in general. But he was very patriarchal in some ways that were too rigid. He believed in having strict gender roles in the sense that women should be able to achieve anything they want as long as they did it within limitations.

He would think that women who dressed up, or put on makeup were vain and having romantic affairs were a big no. He would preach about gender equality but impose curfews on us. All of these fueled my feelings of angst, shame and disappointment.

He has severe not-in-my-backyard syndrome.

As an instance, he would talk about gay rights, trans rights but would freak out if he discovers I am bisexual.

Due to these behavioural traits, I could never get close to him since I was a kid. Thus, I never had much expectations from him. I would get into a lot of fights.

Being unable to learn these skills piled a lot of frustration and hurt in me, no matter how much I bursted out in front of my father while growing up.

All these feelings of shame and guilt only got stronger as I grew up.

Both of us had temper issues and insomnia that worsened things for my mother. So, after a while I consciously withdrew from him.

As of now, I I love my work and I've got myself busy with it. I live in a different city, away from home all by myself which is honestly all that I wanted. Few close friends of mine tried to teach me cycling too, but I couldn't take it forward. Nevertheless, I'm happier amidst the daily chaos.

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