Today I gave a presentation for a Lunch and Learn at a major corporation here in Saint Louis.

This is my sixth Lunch and Learn with them. I always have good attendance, great feedback and they actually pay me to speak.

And yet this morning as I over-prepared, I literally made myself sick with anxiety and self doubt.

Because, today I spoke on Wholehearted Parenting.

And, I am not a parent.

And, I was scared shitless.

A few days ago my shame consumed me as the presentation got closer; “I am not a parent and I am speaking on parenting”. I remind myself that this is also major public information now.

The self doubt settling over me like a thick fog casting fear inside my very core.


Fucking shame.

Like the dementor to my light, stealing my voice, sucking away my soul, leaving my heart empty.

I reached out to my friend,Janine, who organizes the talks and she of course gave me an amazing pep talk. And then last night my friend and colleague reminded me that I am actually a parent. Kelly’s words will forever and always mean the world to me. She said that I parent as much as she does, just in different ways; I parent my dogs and I parent all of the children in my life and that most of all I parent my clients. In many ways therapy is like parenting or even re-parenting with clients. She parents her two boys, but my audience of children is simply bigger as this is my purpose, and my path.

I cried and took in her words because I knew they were my truth. I drew in a deep knowing breath and thanked her for reminding me of my light. She reminded me of what I know every day in many ways, I wasn’t given the chance or blessing of my own children because I am meant for this greatness of working with clients, writing and helping others. It’s neither better nor worse or more or less important, it’s just different.

So, this morning before I walked into that board room I wrote myself a permission slip, just like we ask ourselves and clients to do as they work through The Daring Way™ curriculum. I wrote myself my permission slip and set it right beside my notes.IMG_20140307_154231

I have permission to be scared. I have permission to not be parent enough. I have permission to know, and own, that I know what I am talking about and that I can help even though I am not a parent in the traditional sense.

And so I spoke. And I was painfully vulnerable in owning to them that I am not a parent but that I was there to teach them about wholehearted parenting. I called out my own imposter syndrome, and let them in to my world: I don’t get to be a parent but I can still help you be a better one I think.

I also stated that I am the right person to do that because, one, I actually have the time to read the research and parenting books because I wasn’t able to be a mom. And two, I parent every single day, just not my own children (and according to Kelly this probably means my house is cleaner, I am more well rested and I have more sex).

I was real, I was vulnerable and I allowed my brilliant light to outshine my shame. And because I fought for that bravery, I connected and delivered one of my best lectures. And I have no doubt that there will be some families this weekend with some new language and new ways to love and parent because of that hour we spent together today.

Doing the work of recovery and learning shame resilience doesn’t mean we won’t experience shame. It simply means that we will be able to better cope with it when it does come in.

Shame is my dementor. And it has been very ominous this week, floating over me threatening to take my spirit with this parenting presentation and with more activity from agents and publishers on Ever Upward, the book. But that self doubt has been further shattered today by the success of my last post. A post that I struggled with so much to write and didn’t think was my best work; damn art of letting go. And yet, it has been viewed over 450 times in two days, breaking my record of daily views today alone.

I almost let shame and self doubt stop me from writing that post earlier this week, I almost let it steal my light this whole week, and especially today.

It was only through courage, compassion and connection  that ever upward prevailed.

What do you need to give yourself permission to do, say or feel in the crazy journey of life or in your recovery? How can you practice courage, compassion and connection to remind yourself of your ever upward light? 


**This prompt later linked with the WordPress Daily Prompt: The Great PretenderAre you full of confidence or have you ever suffered from Imposter Syndrome? Tell us all about it.**

34 thoughts on “My Dementor: Shame and Self Doubt

  1. Michelle Ziesmer says:

    I am so proud of you! I wish I could have been there to hear your wise words. Way to go!! Love you ❤


    1. jlbf4 says:

      Thank you! Love you!


  2. Janine says:

    Wow. You put fear in its place because it didn’t even show that you were anxious before or during your presentation! Last year, when my co-workers and I wanted to hear a lecture about mental health, we didn’t look for a presenter who had the most severe case of OCD, depression, phobias, bi-polar disorder, or anxiety. We asked YOU to present because you are an expert in the field and an expert at helping others understand, learn, and change. Same reason we asked YOU to speak about parenting. You may not be a parent in the “traditional” sense, but you have the expertise, knowledge, and the ability to give others important, needed information. No matter the topic. It truly was one of the best lectures you have given at my work. Others came up to me afterwards and said this. Thank you so much for not letting shame win so we could reap the benefits of your wonderful presentation!


    1. Linda Brooks says:

      I so wish we were there to see this presentation. We can never get enough of our daughter speaking because it comes so naturally to her and she make such an impact on her audience. You said it perfectly Janine that she has the ability to give others important, needed information – no matter the topic. We are so proud of you Justine and love you very much!


      1. jlbf4 says:

        Thank you, love you!


    2. jlbf4 says:

      Thank you so much!


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  4. Karen Lanser says:

    Justine …. Your BRAVE is BIG and so incredibly inspiring! Thank you for this beautiful, authentic posting and the invitation to shine brightly despite the inevitable fears! Ever Upward, Karen 🙂


    1. Thank you Karen! My shame spiral that night before was dreadful but with a little help I picked myself up and owned it. Thanks again!


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