No one likes to be embarrassed. Isabella, my six-year-old daughter, tries to downplay any humiliating event she has. As adults, I don’t think we do that much better. I certainly hid while I was recovering from the brain injury because of all of the mistakes that I made, my drooling, facial drooping, aphasia (forgetting words or saying the wrong word). I would get dressed and forget to put on my pants or my shoes. I showered and would forget to rinse out the shampoo and conditioner (I would apply one on top of the other). I still get flustered when I can’t recall a word or someone’s name (a daily occurrence for me).
Feeling embarrassed is a normal part of life. I try to remind Isabella that everyone feels ashamed of something, but that those feelings pass. I used to be much better at handling my humiliating moments when I was younger. I remember my mother taking me to get my hair done on my 12th birthday. She offered to come in, but I insisted that I didn’t need her help. I went into the salon with 2 of my closest friends. It was a Saturday and the place was packed. When I was asked what I wanted done, I belted out in my typical loud voice, “a blow job.” The entire salon stopped, stared at me (at least that’s how it felt), and busted out laughing, including my 2 friends. I wanted to run out, I was so ashamed, but instead, I laughed along with everyone else and corrected my mistake, “brow dry, please.” Although Isabella is too young for me to share this example (she’ll want to know what a blow job is), I do reassure her that mami has had plenty of embarrassing moments in her life, even as a kid.
To help set an example for Isabella and to help me embrace my imperfections again, I have had to return to my childhood mentality of going with the flow when I embarrass myself. What I found most helps Isabella (and me) is to remind her that the embarrassing event is already in the past. I remind her of other humiliating moments and how we both survived them. We try to laugh at our mistakes. And I remind her that we can’t be perfect; all we can do is try our best and apologize when we’ve made a mistake.