Hollye and Amy Ferris discuss the finer points of BLURG

Written by Hollye Dexter

Hollye and Amy in tiaras.
(from Amy Ferris)
Okay, so Hollye and I had our Monday morning with Hollye & Amy talk. Sort of like Tuesdays with Morrie, but … not. And, as usual, we caught up with life and each other and … talked about shame. Our shame, our Shame Prom facebook page, and our hot off the presses spanking new gorgeous website, and our anthology – THE SHAME PROM. Holy Batwoman! And we realized, found that we – Hollye and I – are somewhat ashamed that we’re not getting enough traction and “likes” on our Shame Prom Facebook page. People are not lining up to watch our fabulously funny shame out-takes and videos on YouTube, folks are not lining up to like us. 

Luckily, I was still in bed, and could creep and crawl under the covers. I mean, here we are, two amazing women with unbelievable accomplishments not to mention husbands and friends, and we’re trying to understand why folks are having an allergic reaction to our brilliant and LIFE CHANGING movement – the SHAME PROM movement. And then it happened, Hollye said five magical words: DANCING AT THE SHAME PROM… and in that moment, I pushed the covers off of me (okay, more figuratively than literally) and I smiled and I said to Hollye, God, that’s brilliant. It feels so happy, celebratory. It feels less sad. Less tragic. And of course Hollye made it even sound sexy, and no longer scary. 

The thing is (and I will let Hollye continue this thought, idea, realization… epiphany) we want everyone to celebrate their shameful experiences. The one’s that make us cringe. Crawl into a ball. Hide under the covers. Change our phone numbers. We want to share our stories, release the gunk, prove we’re not alone in doing silly, stupid, hurtful, painful, and unbearable things. We want to open the doors – literally – and dance to the beat of our own – and others – bravery and courage. 
We’re finding SHAME has a very bad reputation, not to mention a really bad rap. 
We want to change that. 
Okay, here’s Hollye …

Yep. We discovered that although we rejoice in the releasing of it, most people are repelled by the word  “Shame”. They don’t want to “Like” it, or watch You Tube videos about it, and GOOD GOD NO they don’t want to talk about it. The word alone carries a negative connotation. When someone said “Shame on you” it meant you were a BAD person who had done a BAD thing. Most of us have come to a point in our lives where we feel we are done with that bullshit. I know I am.

But shame is sneaky. 

It hid itself in the corners of my psyche, in the stories I didn’t tell. It lodged itself in my heart in the moment that I let someone else define me, or control me, or belittle me. It hung over me like a sad umbrella, keeping the sun away. And until I learned how to find it, it was keeping me small. Very small.

Our objective with this anthology is to RELEASE it, to sweep it out of the corners and shoo it away, and we want you to join us! We want to connect with you and share this glorious feeling.  But there’s that problem…that icky word.

Okay so how about we don’t call it shame. Let’s call it “blurg”.

I felt blurg in my childhood because my father was in prison, and because of things people did to me, and because I thought I was a mistake and didn’t belong anywhere.

I felt it as a young woman when I betrayed myself trying to gain someone else’s love, or when I shared my body with someone who did not value me.

So I wrote a book and got it all out and it changed me. And although I’ve more or less healed myself of the past shame, er, I mean, BLURG,  it still creeps up on me. I start to feel it when I chide myself for gaining five pounds, when I see the age in my face that society tells me is not acceptable, when I’m the only one at the dinner party who doesn’t get the intellectual reference because I’m a college dropout.

Yes, I feel BLURG.

Oh, that’s ridiculous. Let’s call it what it is – it’s SHAME. A universal emotion, just like fear, love, jealousy, desire. It’s what makes us human. It’s what binds us. Connects us. Lifts us. Spurs us into action. 

(From Amy and Hollye)
Dancing at the Shame Prom was conceived and born out of courage, passion, compassion, joy, and self-awareness. It’s not a place for wallowing in self-pity, or sorrow. Well, you can wallow for just a little bit, but we’re grabbing your hand, and we’re taking you out onto the dance floor, and we’re not letting BLURG hold any of us back any more. 

Care to dance with us?
*start small…tell us a tiny little story that you never tell. post it anonymously if you like. Go on…get it out. you’ll feel better. Here’s my story…

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  1. Lori

    Interesting point you bring up here in your video, Hollye–the concept of "inherited shame." how much of our shame is a legacy that we inherit and how can we break the cycle for our children??? I have such compassion for you watching this……look what a beautiful woman you grew YOURSELF into……Love Lori

  2. Hollye Dexter

    A million kisses to you, Lori. I do think we inherit a lot of shame. In fact, several authors in the Shame Prom write about that – carrying the shame of their race, their parent's suicides, their children's missteps. For me, breaking the cycle was as simple as telling the truth, and not only accepting but embracing my father for all that he is. That freed me to accept myself for who I am. As you may know, my father is very honest about his past and is now a Baptist preacher, so he too, is breaking the cycle of shame.

  3. Anonymous

    Very interesting blurg today. I have not really experienced shame as such. I have done things that I now look back on and am embarrassed by sure, but not shameful. I think they were all done with some type of reasoning and forethought. I knew what I was doing, did it and knew I could live with my choices. I think looking back I would not change one thing in my life. They all added up to who I am. I don't think about shame at all and it never really even came up in therapy for all the years I went on and off. Whether I just worked it out by talking about it I will never know. My life is an open book and if someone asks me about any time in my life I answer openly and honestly. My kids never asked why I got divorced but if they had I would have told them. And that is true for those who have asked and in some cases (many) those who haven't. I feel I have nothing to be ashamed of and most things I would do again if I thought about it and how it impacted my life. It would still be an experience in my life landscape. I am blessed not to have this consuming my life.

  4. Anonymous

    I feel like I've been dancing at this prom too!! I think alot of people our generation possibly have lived with their shame for so long it's hard for them to talk about it. I for one have no regrets and wear my heart on my sleeve, shame vs. regret vs. guilt and on and on. It's not so much a cycle as it is an inevetible human passage. It’s what we all do with it. I bet there is not one person on the planet without some sort of shame or secret. It is a difficult thing for most people to admit sorrow out loud, openly, painfully and truthfully to others and themselves. I myself have lagged on approaching this because it means facing truths which are easier buried. But wow, how cleansing! Thank you! It is an enlighting and uplifting feeling!
    Love you both!!! Carol

  5. Hollye Dexter

    WE love you back Carol! Thank you for being so brave! xoxo

  6. Debbie

    WOW Hollye. When I first met you I thought you were not only beautiful but open and smart and sweet and you had a very positive aura about you. I was really moved by your story and I identified completely because I too have always wanted not to be who I am … high strung, short tempered, sensitive, afraid … I've had a lot of shame about that. I always wanted to be "normal" and "normal" to me meant confident, centered, knowing who I was. My shame stems from many things, a controlling mother, which I'm still nervous about saying out loud … I could write a book. Thank you for sharing your story and helping the rest of us to no longer feel ashamed of being who we are.


  7. Hollye Dexter

    Oh Debbie PLEASE write a book – coming from you it would be a hoot! I've recommended your blog to so many friends. Thank you for sharing your feelings here, I think that's the first step to healing. And by the way, I have always thought of you as beautiful, warm, FUNNY and sweet, not any of the above things you described! (And as I recall, you feel pretty awkward about being kissed on the lips by girls, right?)

  8. Chrystal

    Hi hollye. I'm chrystal. Just read your section in chicken soup for the soul. And I can't stop crying! I have had a terrible childhood n still have no idea who my dad is. I read it and wished at that very moment that was me on the phone with whomever my father is. I envy you n your blogs! I pray day in and day out to have god send me a sign or a number or a state! Kudos to you and your success! I am happily engaged to the greatest guy ever and have a beautiful baby girl by him. But the whole kills me everyday! Until then take care n look foward to reading something new from you…

  9. Chrystal

    Hi. I just read your section in chicken noodle soup and I am still crying an hour later. I to lived a crazy childhood mine probably more terrible then yours! I am 30 years old and still to this day have no idea who my dad is. As I was reading I stopped closed my eyes and wished that was me for one minute! Ill be here all day and night if I told ya my whole life story. I pray day in and day out for my father! Reading gave me a tad bit more faith! I am engaged to a fantastic man and have a beautiful baby girl by him. But I can't fill that void in my heart,my life is still slightly dragging on because of not knowing my dad. Ok. Looking foward to more bloggs n books from you. Lost & confused in new York!!!!

  10. Hollye Dexter

    Thank you so much for reaching out to me! I'm really glad to hear from you, and glad you shared your story. There are so many ways to track people down these days…I'll be you can find your father. It's not always a perfect reunion, and in fact, my story isn't perfect. It started out great but my relationship with my Dad still has it's complications. I'll be saying a prayer for you that you find your truth, whatever that may be, and that it brings you peace.


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