THE SHAME PROM – Hollye & Amy/Amy & Hollye

Time to air some laundry.
Hollye & I decided to share our “shame stories” with the hope that maybe, just maybe, anyone & everyone who is feeling … yes, shame … will feel that a) they’re not alone, and b) they can share their stories.

everyone is invited to this prom.

we’re calling it tada:

so here is our (amy & hollye) first dance:


Shame, shame, shame. (Sounds just like an Aretha Franklin song doesn’t it?)

I’m wearing it on my sleeve, right next to my lovely floral corsage.

I am carrying inside of me the shame of believing, “It’s all my fault, I did something wrong, so I deserve this sadness and pain and suffering. And I have to make it better. And I need to apologize for whatever it is I did that made someone angry, bitter, hateful, mean.”


This (incorrect) belief system originated many, many years ago, when I would come home from a friend’s house, or school and I would be crying because my friend and I had a fight, or something happened in school, and I would be sobbing and my mother would say: “Amy, what did YOU do?” And of course, I would immediately feel smaller, sadder, less than. Invisible. Unimportant. Discarded. I would feel god awful because I was made to feel and believe it was my fault. And of course I would feel as if nothing I did was good enough or worthy. So i was always trying to fix the problem, make something better, mend it, repair it. Apologize. And I would do whatever I could to make it better, to make it right, because I truly deeply believed it was my fault.

And, I never, ever felt better. I just felt more invisible and powerless. I felt completely and utterly unimportant. And good god, if I didn’t do something to make it better, I would be alone. That scared me to death. Not being included, being forgotten. Holy shit, did that scare me. Wow. That scared me.

And now that feeling, that “OH MY GOD WHAT DID I DO?”, is rearing it’s god awful, guilty, fearful ugly head again. It has a lot to do with the loss of my relationship with my brother, and the loss of the spiritual, or more truthfully, “Religious” organization i belonged to for many, many, many (35) years. The feeling of I need to do something, fix something, mend something, make it better. Repair it. MAKE. IT. WORK. MAKE. IT. BETTER. MAKE. IT. RIGHT.

But the other much more enlightened piece of me, another part of me says: STOP IT. Not your fault. There are many sides. You don’t need to own someone else’s shit. And yeah… you were mistreated, betrayed, treated badly. Discarded. STOP IT. YOU DON’T NEED TO FIX THIS, OR MAKE THIS BETTER. You don’t need this person’s love, approval, acceptance.

It’s hard – excruciating – for me to see that, accept that, to understand and believe that ‘truth.’

And so there in lies the battle.

And trust me, it is a huge battle. An internal battle. I can feel it right in my soul, in my solar plexis. I can. And in that battle is a whole lot of shit: guilt, fear, self-doubt, retreating, self-criticism, pain.

But… I’m pretty sure this is the moment where i get to let go of that god awful misguided pain and incorrect belief system that began in that little girl, (and grew up in this woman) who believed that everything bad that happened was her doing, her fault, her problem to solve.

The old me: the one who feels that she has to make it better, APOLOGIZE, shrink. Ask for forgiveness. It’s all her fault. The one who seeks approval, needs permission.

The new me: the one who feels it’s time to move on, let go, FORGIVE MYSELF, be big, release the guilt and doubt and self-defeat. To save my own life. To take responsibility for my life. To take charge. To stop looking for permission.

And yes, it’s easier said than done. Much fucking easier. After all, it took years to get here.

But I know it’s the right time to be here. At this place. At this ‘Shame Prom,’ it’s time to stop the self-slander, the self doubt. The self-loathing, and yes, it’s time to let the flower on the corsage bloom, and let the “shame bud” die out.


Shame is a ball and chain around your soul that keeps you from living an authentic life. When you keep it buried deep inside you, it saps your energy, steals your joy.

Amy and I have been talking a lot about this, and decided this is the year we release ours. We decided it would be a bit less scary to write about it together, you know- hold hands and jump off the cliff Thelma and Louise style (but we expect a much better outcome). She said “What if we call it our shame prom?” I knew right where she was going.
Yes, I said, a shame prom. Let’s parade it out in public, dance it around on our arm. Let’s take awkward pictures with it. But afterward, let’s not roll around in the backseat making out with it any more. Let’s break up with it.

So here is my shame: Inside, I feel like a colossal failure. A total loser.
Where this affects me the most is in my career.

There were many years I worked in the corporate world, and earned good money. I even carried the financial burden while Troy built up his music career. But after that …it’s a joke. Not that I haven’t been doing things, or having a career. I ran my own nonprofit organization for seven years, and it was successful. But I didn’t get paid. I’ve worked as a singer for almost 20 years, but if I lived on that income alone I’d be on welfare. My albums were a total loss. I had a clothing business that built up to some national success, but… it burned down and I went bankrupt.

So why am I such a terrible earner?

I had a realization the other day, talking to my neighbor. She makes beautiful handmade quilts, and now that she’s out of a job, she was thinking of selling them but felt kind of awkward about it, at which point I gave her this advice:
“Why should you feel bad about selling them? Money is just a symbol of gratitude, one that says I value your work. Why shouldn’t you let others value the work you do?”
And of course I caught myself. Hellooooo??? Look who’s talkin’!

I realized that, dammit, no matter how much work I’ve done on myself, there is this message so deeply imprinted in me that I am not valuable. It started with the fact that I was an unwanted pregnancy and without going into detail let’s just say my childhood experiences continued to validate that feeling. I absorbed and believed it before I was old enough to even understand it. I know better now. I know I have value to add to the world, but I haven’t been able to shake that tattoo on my soul-“Unwanted”.

So no, I am not surprised that my book hasn’t sold, that I have no gigs booked for this year. If I don’t see myself as valuable, how will anyone else? I am truly embarrassed that I am this way. I want to be better.

It’s time for me to redesign that soul tattoo. I have no idea how, but I thought admitting this defect would help me to see that maybe I’m not the only one. Maybe we can all figure this out together.

The love from my husband, children and friends has healed me in so many ways, but I still have much work to do on myself. It will most likely be a lifelong project, correcting what was broken in my foundation. I’m going to start by praying about it, and reaffirming the good things in my life, and giving myself some credit for the valuable things I’ve done. That’s a start.

Like my real prom, I’d like to leave the Shame prom in my rearview mirror.

Category: Uncategorized 6 comments »

6 Responses to “THE SHAME PROM – Hollye & Amy/Amy & Hollye”

  1. Madge Woods

    I left my comments on Hollye’s as it came up first:) I have been there and got past it. I shared my thoughts live with Amy today. Loved talking to her in real time.

  2. Maxee

    Amy & Hollye, ……….two amazing and profoundly courageous women who share their inner most thoughts, fears, worries, doubts, and also their true joys. You both say what others are not willing or able to say. You may think that you are different from the rest of us, but boy oh boy! are you wrong on that note. We are all the same.
    I once had an ‘ah ha!’ moment in an acting scene study class, that I will never forget. Can’t remember the scene, the dialog, the actors, but I was struggling with the character I was playing and my teacher said, “We all fear and want the same things.” At first I couldn’t understand how that was possible? How could we ALL want the exact same things? But then I got it. Yes, we do. We all want to be valued, be worthy, be successful, be safe, have financial security, protect our loved ones, have friends, have people in our lives that love us unconditionally, and we love them. It’s that simple. No matter where we live on this planet, we all have the same fears, worries, regrets, insecurities, and yes,…..joys. As women we are also, strong and powerful and steadfast and can accomplish amazing and wonderful things. So let’s get to it girlfriends!! No more shame or self doubt! Onward and upward we go!!
    I adore you both for all that you are…..two incredible women and am so grateful to have you in my life and call you my dearest friends.

  3. Linda tears

    Oh my sisters – how I love you both so much. I get it! But I don’t get that you should have it. I want you to put IT in a package and send it to me. I want to go back in time and be BOTH your mommies.

    I’m just telling you we need that Goddess Summit!

  4. Kathleen

    I read this blog by each of you. Your thoughts, fears, insecurities and I wanted to let each of you know what each of you do for others.

    Why do people need titles for self worth? or so much $$ in a bank account or master many accomplishments or gain the approval of every friend. All the time worrying about what others will think or say. All that wasted engery being lost. Is it human nature to always be in search of that Quest but to have control of oneself.

    I was young when my Gram told me: “Do for yourself only then can you do for others”. I was in my teens when I finally got it. Sure there are times of doubt but I rise above it for myself. Some moments take longer than others but that is what I have always called a ‘life wave’.

    Hollye you’re singing, painting, blog life is amazing and when you were preaching to the quilt lady you had you’re awakening.
    Amy your openness, caring, love and FEARless book(MGC) has brought together many woman with such diversified backgrounds.

    You both have renewed so many to seek within themselves more drive and self respect. Are you both not hearing/seeing/reading what you are each doing for others. Re-read what you write just to each other~that magnet of strength between the two of you.

    You both have amazing families, friends, pets who love you much.
    You both have risen above many of life’s challenges to surface and give back.

    Now as I say to Linda (whom I love dearly) “do I have to come smack ya”~
    Figure of speech but I only come or offer to smack those I love.

    Amy and Holly you are two amazing, beautiful, rockin’women whom I am honored to know and share life with.

    May we all continue to share our worries, fears, joys, sorrows and not pass judgement for we will continue to unit as better beings.

    Personally I think this ‘Group’ ,and if you are reading this then you are one within this group, know we are one hell of a powerhouse of love. Keep sharing it. xoxo Love Ya,❤

  5. debbie

    Ladies, first of all I just typed an epistle on this post and lost it! UGH! Bottom line, I can relate 100% to everything you both have said. I, too, have lived at the Shame Prom. I have spent a lifetime battling these very same issues. There have been moments – months where I have felt authentic and whole but it takes a tremendous amount of work for me. Constantly remembering the “tools” I have learned in therapy, asking myself questions like “how am I feeling right now?” It’s exhausting. I don’t know why there are people like us and others who are born with healthy self esteems and an instinctive ability to honor themselves. Maybe it is our personal cross to bear. I don’t know. All I know, is that that dinner we had in Brentwood was a great night for me. I LIKE you both so much and I think you are both beautiful, talented, amazing women. Holleye – you had the courage to write your story! YOU DID IT. That’s the point! Amy has written books/movies/blogs! I plug away on my little Viggo blog and think about doing what you both have already done but am afraid that it won’t be good enough, that I couldn’t possibly tackle that mountain, I am terribly fearful of telling the secrets of my childhood and young adulthood and exposing so much but deep inside I know there is a story there. What you guys have done IS SUPREMELY COURAGEOUS.

    P.S. I think most of us women deal with these very same issues and all supposedly emotionally healthy people out there have just learned to hide their pain better.


  6. Jane

    I can’t do it. I am sitting here thinking of so many things and just keep getting the willies and saying “No way am I putting that down.”
    So kudo’s to you ladies for having the courage to do it.
    And to Debbie re ‘just typing an epistle and losing it’ – don’t you just HATE that?! When you actually WANT to delete something you get prompts asking “Are you SURE you want to delete this item?” Yet there are apparently a few key strokes, when combined, will wipe out EVERYTHING you have written with no problem at all!!!!

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