We all have a Shame Story. Some of us have several. The concept of the Shame Story originally came (to me anyway) from reading "The Effect of Living Backwards," a very compelling book that is a complete and total mind-fuck. In the book, two sisters recount things from their childhood and early 20's that bring them a sense of shame. Part of the game is to manipulate the other via the subjectivity of memory into making the other believe something that never occurred is fact. The other sister then has to discern if all, part, or none of the story actually occurred. Sometimes the storyteller begins to believe her own story as she recounts it which completely changes the game and hints at whether the story was ever completely fictionalized in the start. Great book, you should read it. I digress.
Shame Stories have gone by a few names over the years. One friend, who shall remain nameless, refers to it as a shame bubble... that sick feeling that rises up in you that sometimes you can't even pinpoint where it is coming from. You just know there is something that you did or said that is between somewhat and completely mortifying. There is also the shame spiral, where one memory triggers another and then another until you are clutching your head and rocking autistically in a corner praying this is someone else's life. Shame Stories are those moments that have become legendary. If only in your own mind.
Shame Stories don't have to be sexual. They just tend to be more often than not. Shame Stories also don't have to arise out of massive drunkenness, but that happens quite a bit too.
I'll start. (Sidenote: I have procrastinated this part for about seven rewrites. Shame doesn't wear off that easily.) So there I was right... Just kidding. A few years ago, I had gone out of town for the weekend with a couple of friends for a concert. On Friday night, we are out at a bar after drinking all day. This group of guys appear (I don't fucking remember if they walked in, we walked in, and in fact, a lot of this is kind of fuzzy.) We start talking with them. I have no idea how much time elapsed, (I think it was quite a bit,) but we end up going outside of this beach-front bar, in the dark, with these two dudes we had met that evening to "look at the stars" down by the water. Here is where I'm putting this film into fast-forward with a highlight reel: making out on the beach, a VERY seedy strip club, a hot tub, being trespassed by security, a grass hut on the beach, more security, a retreat to the hotel where our other friend was with these dudes in tow, 4 people in a full-sized bed, all going out for breakfast together, meeting up with them again the next day, being spun around in the air and then thrown over one's shoulder while my ex walked by, etc total clusterfuck etc.
There are moments of that story that make me almost physically ill. Not because I regret my actions in retrospect (no one got hurt, the situation sounds more out of control than it was), but just because it was so FUCKING STUPID to take off like that and make one unwise decision after another in front of an audience. And HOLY SHIT you should see the pictures. Jesus.
Over a year later, I had the occasion to meet up with the Guy in Question. We actually had amazing chemistry and really clicked on a lot of levels. (Both at the time of this ShameFest and later. We chatted via text/email a few times over that next year. In fact, I still talk to him very occasionally.) I really liked him. Like, a lot. In many ways, he is/was probably what people would describe as ideal for me. But, who the fuck would be stupid enough to get involved with someone after that introduction? I can hear it, "So how did you kids meet?" "Oh let's see, we got really fucked up on a beach in a foreign country and almost got arrested and dishonorably discharged!" UGH.
Here's my point. I wouldn't change this Shame Story for the world. It was a shitshow of epic proportions, but has provided several years worth of laughs. It might have even taught me a lesson. At least a little one.
So spill it. I gave you something. Reciporicate.
I'm confused. I mean, I'm not confused about the concept of a "Shame Story," but I AM confused about why you would feel shame related to THAT story.
It was an ADVENTURE!
Maybe I'm missing something, but you went to a foreign country (Mexico or some such cool Caribbean place I suspect) with a bunch of friends and played. No one got hurt (physically or emotionally from what I can tell). No one got arrested or ended up on the news (ALMOST only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades). And from what I can tell, no one got married or slept with anyone they shouldn't have (though I have my doubts about the lack of getting your freak on because I, personally, don't think it's possible to go on a little foreign excursion involving alcohol and tomfoolery WITHOUT sleeping with someone inappropriate... that's sort of the point, isn't it?).
So, are you embarrassed that you got drunk and let your hair down? Talk to me girl.
Ah, there is the distinction: Embarrassment is a different animal than shame. Shame implies a deeper sense of having betrayed who you are. Embarassment is simply doing something dumb and getting red in the face about it. They are not mutually exclusive, obviously, but are different nonetheless.
The shame in this story arises from the fact that while a MORE THAN GOOD time was had by all, it set off a chain of events in that the target got a very odd view of me that is not true to my nature. I think no one disputes that I am always, always, always game for an adventure, but I prefer that adventure have my own mark on it and be viewed as part of the bigger picture. I am very "out" about who I am. I think the sense of shame arises from the knowledge that this behavior did not reflect that.
Now, I have certainly taken off on wild larks and engaged in similar behaviors and not felt that same sense of shame. In fact, that is true the overwhelming majority of the time. The difference though is when you are in the company of a person (or people) who already know and trust you that you know their opinion of you and who you are is not based entirely on this madcap 24 hours. This sort of a ridiculous excursion can actually bring people closer together, sometimes much closer, rather than being an impetus to driving them apart.