Shame and the Act of Forgiving Ourselves

Today I’m very excited to bring to you one of the rising stars of my local Romance Writers of America chapter, Selena Laurence. I met Selena for the first time last year at our October Author’s Tea, but I’d seen her all over Twitter and Facebook as she’s crit partners with one of my fellow GaimX’rs, Jamie Raintree. This year I’m excited because Selena will  be one of our authors at the tea with a total of four books out by 2014, three of them out this year including her fabulous New Adult romance, Hidden! Please welcome fellow Colorado Romance Author member, New Adult and Contemporary Romance author, Selena Laurence!

Shame. We’ve all felt it at one time or another. There are lots of ways to define that icky burning feeling you get in your gut when you think you’ve done something wrong. The one that I think is the most useful is this, from Merriam Webster: a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety.

Shame is painful, but the most important thing to remember about shame is that, like Merriam Webster’s says, it’s caused by your own consciousness. The bottom line about shame is that no one but you can cause it, and no one but you can end it. Shame is something you decide to feel. And only you can reverse that feeling.

hidden by selena laurenceIn my New Adult novel Hidden, which releases on July 23rd, both the hero and the heroine are experiencing a great deal of shame. In particular, the heroine, Lyndsey, feels that her past as a victim of domestic violence is a reason to be ashamed. Lyndsey is a young woman who didn’t have the resources and support that 18 year olds ought to, and that led her to involvement with the really wrong guy. The shame she feels after she leaves that relationship drives everything she does for years afterwards.

What Lyndsey has to learn, and what we all have to learn at some point in life, is that you can only get rid of shame by forgiving yourself. No one else can do it for you. We all make mistakes, all find ourselves in situations we wish we weren’t. We all make choices that turn out to be wrong, have needs that lead us astray, and feel shame sometimes. The key is to see what we can learn from the experience, and then forgive ourselves as quickly as possible, because as long as we can’t forgive ourselves, the world can’t either.

The dedication in Hidden is written for my daughters, who I thought of often when I wrote the character of Lyndsey. My daughters are amazing young women, one just out of college and the other just starting high school. They have long lives ahead of them where they will make plenty of mistakes, but the message I want to impart to them that comes from Lyndsey is this: There is no mistake so big that you can not move on, no lesson so harsh that you will not recover, and no shame so severe that you don’t deserve to be forgiven.


Nick Carlisle comes to Hawaii to hide—from what happened during his military service in Afghanistan, from relationships, from love. Lyndsey Anderson came to Hawaii to hide too—from the man who abused her, from the sacrifices she made, from her dark past. But when Nick meets Lyndsey, Hawaii gets a whole lot hotter, and they find they can’t hide their hearts. As Nick fights to come to terms with what he’s done, Lyndsey struggles to forgive herself for the choices she’s made. But when the dangerous past threatens the beautiful present, can they survive to learn how to love? And who will finally reveal what’s hidden?

selena laurenceI love to write romantic stuff that helps you get away. Life can be a grind, and things like jobs and school and dirty dishes make Jill a dull girl – and me too! So, I write Contemporary and New Adult romances about hot guys and smart girls and cool places. It’s an Escape from the Everyday.
Ways to find Selena Laurence:


Filed under facing failure, guest post, New Adult

2 responses to “Shame and the Act of Forgiving Ourselves

  1. Selena, I was a little surprised when I looked at my work to date as a whole and found forgiveness was a thread that weaved through most every piece I wrote. Self-forgiveness is the hardest, for me and for my characters. Believing God could forgive, or someone we have wronged could forgive, when we can’t forgive ourselves, has got to be life’s biggest conundrum. I’m always trying to solve that puzzle, which may explain my love for mysteries, and the biggest mystery of all: falling in love.

    In other words, your premise has me hooked.

  2. Sherry, that’s so interesting that you can see threads like that throughout your work. When I get enough of them under my belt I will have to see if I too have common issues that pop up again and again. It’s amazing how our own emotional experiences impact our writing in such subtle ways.
    Thanks very much for taking the time to read, and I’m glad you found something to connect with in it 🙂

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