There was something else on my list to write about today – but I’m going to have to leave it for a while.
Today, I need to talk about shame.
There was such a powerful set of responses to what I said about anger yesterday [https://www.facebook.com/SaySomethinginWelsh/posts/10155730163925178] – the anger of being deprived of your own language – and (heart-breakingly) many of them talked about shame.
I get it.
I know that shame.
I remember a guy coming up to me where I worked in Dubai – I was new, and he’d heard I was from Wales – so he was straight in with ‘Siarad Cymraeg?’
And all I had was that bloody ‘Tipyn bach’, which means NO I BLOODY DON’T AND I DON’T FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT SO CAN WE DROP THIS NOW PLEASE?
I guess it’s the root of the anger – that bitter, bitter shame of not being entirely who you feel you are.
As if it’s YOUR fault.
But of course – it’s NOT your fault.
NONE of us is at fault for an accident of birth. Someone posted yesterday that she’d been born 20 MILES down the road from where her boyfriend was born – he grew up speaking Welsh, she didn’t.
Yes, I had to edit out a swear in the middle of that.
Imagine watching a couple of kids running to their primary school – one of them turns left, one of them turns right, one of them will speak Welsh all their life, the other will have that painful gap.
You wouldn’t BLAME the child who doesn’t get the language, would you?
You’d feel PITY for them. You might try to HELP them. But you would NOT blame them.
The feeling of shame – that’s all about blaming ourselves. It’s actually pretty classic gas-lighting – victims being made to feel it was all their fault.
It’s NOT your fault.
You’re NOT to blame.
Reject that sense of shame.
You were deprived of your OWN language.
The anger makes sense. The shame doesn’t.
Be angry. Learn some words in Welsh.
As someone else said yesterday, EVERY SINGLE WORD you learn is a kick in the teeth for the structures and the people who denied you your language.
But even if you never learn a single word, please…
Don’t be ashamed.
Don’t blame yourself.
It is NOT your fault.
After that, I almost feel bad about putting these links here.
You shouldn’t feel shame, so you shouldn’t feel guilt, either.
Don’t try to learn Welsh out of a sense of guilt – it’ll just feel tough and negative and painful.
Only do it if it feels like the right way to hit back at that sense of loss.
Because then, it can become something joyful…