She was so upset. Almost to the point of tears. And nearly an hour later, you could still see the shame on her face. But why?
Her voice. Her beauty. Her charm. She plays to sold-out stadiums. She delights her fans and moves people to tears. I am simply mesmerized as I watch her—including her outstanding performance last week on the Grammys.
But as she started the tribute to the late George Michael, something was wrong, it wasn’t quite on, she had missed the key. After several measures, she had to do the unthinkable on live TV: she said “Stop. Stop.” She said a curse word and asked the band to restart.
It happens. Life happens. And to her listeners, it was not a huge deal. It is what it is.
But to Adele, it seemed like the end of the world. She cursed, she messed up on live television with a huge audience. You could see it in her face. You could sense it in her body. You could hear it when she apologized a dozen times to the audience—even after the standing ovation for her phenomenal performance.
She felt she had disappointed people she really cared about. Shame fell on her like darkness; shame consumed her; and Adele fell under shame’s corrosive and deadly spell.
The audience was not upset that she cursed or that she had to start the song again. They were upset for her, they felt bad for her. They wanted to encourage her.
When Adele went onstage to receive her Grammy from Celine Dion (Celine Dion!), the shame went with her. Celine took Adele’s face in her hands and said, “You are amazing!” But Adele couldn’t receive it—those words of honor and admiration smacked against the coat of shame and slid to the floor.
And I wondered how long Adele would beat herself up over that, how long she would think those terrible things she was clearly thinking about herself. I hoped it would not be long.
But shame lingers. It doesn’t go unless we send it away. It stays and fills our very being as long as we let it.
If I could speak to Adele, I would say, “You are lovely, you are worthy, you belonged in that place that night. That’s why you were there! Don’t let shame steal your joy; don’t let shame steal the honor of the night. Set shame aside so you can embrace the generous encouragement from Celine Dion, and the loving support of the audience. They thought nothing less of you; on the contrary, they wanted to offer you love and encouragement. It is our humanity that endears us to each other. Soak in the love poured over you that night.”
But I can relate. I don’t sing like Adele or you’d all know it, but I did sing a song once at church, and I biffed it, right from the beginning. I felt as I Adele must have felt (but without the voice to back it up!), so I can imagine how she felt. I remember. I felt alone and exposed before hundreds (for her it was millions) of people. I had nowhere to hide.
What about you? Can you relate? Have you ever felt that you have disappointed people who you really cared about? Maybe just because you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer? Do you remember what the shame felt like? What that shame feels like?
Where does shame conceal us? Where does it prevent us from receiving the love of others? Are you cloaked in shame that you’ve internalized? Are you able to hear the words of love, acceptance and affirmation people offer you? Maybe they are not the people you had hoped would encourage you, but I am just one of many here to tell you how beautiful and wonderful and amazing you are—just as you are. One of many people who love you—for just who you are.
So let me be Celine, and you be Adele. Let me take your face in my hands and say:
You’re amazing! Take it from me, because I know! YOU. ARE. AMAZING! Let go of that shame of feeling you have disappointed people. If that disappointment is still being heaped on you by people in your life, then it may be time to let go, to cut short your time with them. Let the shame go. They do NOT speak truth. Don’t stay stuck in shame because you don’t deserve it. You deserve to be loved as you are, where you are, for who you are. Let it in, my friend, let it in. After all, you had me at Hello!
FreedHearts Online has comprehensive video courses helping parents love, accept & affirm their LGBTQI children; helping LGBTQI heal shame from family, religious and community wounds; and helping those in the faith community love and include. Please just click here. 🙂