a colleague has asked me to be a panelist for a love/relationships Q&A forum tonight. so in approximately 1 hour, i will sit in front of Lord-knows-how-many-students and answer their questions about love and relationships. and it doesn't matter how old i get or how many times i talk about my life, i still am so shocked anyone would ever take advice from me about love or relationships.  part of my shock is from insecurity rooted in lies. part of it is from the harsh ways i critique myself. part of it is from the way i always seem to forget how far i've come. but still, i sit here just 58 minutes away from yet another opportunity i do not deserve; to help spare someone the trouble i put myself through. and i keep finding my thoughts drift toward all the hard questions i hope no one answers. because that's what shame does to us; it makes us want to hide in an oversized sleeping bag that zips all the way over our head. shame also begets more secrets, more things we don't have to tell anyone. and it causes us to run away from the people and things that bring us life, that make us whole, that keep us breathing. shame is suffocating, it is toxic. and while i'm learning to be someone who does not speak in absolutes, i can say this with complete confidence: i never want to live in shame again. 

i can only imagine what would be different if someone had let me ask questions. if they had given me the opportunity to look into their shame and see that i didn't want a part of that...i can barely let my mind go there.

so you know what? i hope they ask the hard questions.

i hope someone finds strength enough to voice their shame, to get it out in the open and let it breathe for a second.

i hope they find a way to ask what they're soul is screaming at them.

and i hope i have an answer.