Friday, April 18, 2008

Talking the Shame Away

As I talked with Dan last week about the importance of talking about any issue that I felt shame over, I realized why it works so well for me. Let me see if I can put it into words.
Any thing that is "not to be talked about" equals shame to me. From time to time I still hear my name stretched out in the surprised whine of my mother's voice when I do something or say something that is "just not done or said." I was taught to handle anything uncomfortable by not discussing it and stuffing it away as if it did not exist. The concept that silence and shame went hand in hand was embedded in my brain in multiple instances I can recall and probably hundreds I do not.

Now when shame surfaces, I find myself wanting to hide it away, but find myself also incapable of doing so any longer. Sooner or later I must take it out and look at it and speak it. In sharing it, I am declaring my struggling belief that it is not shameful. As I speak it, I am defending that child within that was herself hidden in shame and declaring she is not shameful. Finding my voice and my own declaration, I break the binds of the past's power over me. Shame crumbles.

I used to need to talk a lot, and always. I often emotionally exposed myself to others seeking out their approval because the shame inside was so non-approving. I began this blog at a time that I desperately needed to share my story - no longer for any one else's approval but to declare my own approval of who I am and what I have experienced. To hide it equalled shame; to share it means I am free from shame. I needed a place where I could declare what I was determined to deeply believe - that I am not shame-filled and the path I have walked is not reason to feel shame.

As time has passed, I am no longer driven to type and declare. Sometimes I write out of committment and belief that there is purpose in this. Sometimes I don't write at all because I just don't need to. Sometimes I throw out a little fact like my masturbating at a young age to declare one more thing off the taboo list.

If it can be talked about then it is not shameful. If it is shameful you must not talk about it. It was deeply engrained in me and I now use it to find freedom.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Looks like another break from school may be imminent. I saw the neurosurgeon today and we looked at the MRI I had done last week of my neck. Pain and numbness have been the norm for me on and off for 20 years. The past couple of years has seen a constant numbness in my face and intermittent pain. When the pain a few weeks ago began to interfere with my ability to play golf, I said, "This is enough!"

I was surprised when the MRI showed enough pressure on my spinal cord that the doctor was willing to do surgery. I am hoping to have a go at it in a couple of weeks. I am EXCITED that a lot of things I have enjoyed and had to give up may return. I will be able again to play golf without worry, bike, bowl, and maybe even back pack a little. If you saw how overweight I am, you would be laughing your head off at me.....but hey, why not? Maybe I will even take tennis back up. I used to be pretty good at it.

Don't know where the money is coming from to pay the deductible but we will charge it if we have too. Freedom is too good to consider letting it pass me by for any further length of time.


Monday, April 14, 2008

More Shame Defeated; More Questions Asked

My visit with Dan last week melted that shame away. (Read the last post.) When I am in the thick of it, I can't see the way out, but I have learned if I will talk, the shame will fade. In talking with Dan there truly is no shame. Quite an amazing relationship. Could this be the way God desires to relate to us?

Guilt if appropriate is healthy, but when shame coats your life it destroys everything - even your ability to walk away from things that lead to more shame. Shame becomes a force of its own devouring all truth.

As a child I began masturbating around the age of 9 or 10. According to Dan, not unusual for a female. This was a long time ago and at least in my home this subject was not acknowledged. Instead anything to do with one's sexuality was avoided and the message that parts of my body were dirty and yukky was instilled.

I thought I must be really weird and rather childishly believed that something must be wrong and evil about me to have discovered this new experience. I could not imagine how I stumbled onto such an intense happening. I assumed I was the only person to have ever done this. When I discussed with Dan the drive I had felt at that age and how horrible I felt about myself, (I think I used the word horrendous. I saw myself as horrendous.) he reminded me that what we despise in ourselves often becomes our focus as we try to work out the issue outside of our minds. If masturbation is OK and a natural part of growing up, we imbibe but are not so driven. If we are hiding it in shame and darkness, it begins to consume us mentally and then physically.

Dismantling this past with Dan and talking without any shame, I found freedom from my present sense of shame. I wish I could develop a recipe that always worked one certain way, but one ingredient I have discovered is that freedom from shame ALWAYS involves bringing the issue into the open and out into the light. At first it took a lot of talking to break myself of the self hatred that accompanies the shame. As I have gained more health the amount of talking has greatly decreased. Extending grace to myself comes much more easily and being human is something I rejoice in.

So the shame issue is dealt with for the moment but the faith issue is not. On one hand, I feel as if I am embracing the reality of God's grace and so much of what I have learned in therapy has aligned with the message of grace. Law brings death. Grace brings life and freedom.

This sounds good but so much of the Bible is law. Go back to Leviticus and you find it says, It is better to put your seed into a whore than to spill it on the ground. Now, I am sorry but that sounds like some pretty stupid advice. Should I recommend this to the students I teach? I think not!

Yes, I understand that the author was coming from a totally different view of "seed." I also know that for years I said I believed that the Bible was THE infallible word of God. If that is so then what has brought me life isn't supposed to work. So I can continue to lean toward another more frightening view of the Bible - that it is human composed and while inspired by God it was filtered through humans, or I can say that I belief it IS completely God's word and continue to throw out the parts I don't like which really means I am lying to myself. You know, like woman having the heads covered. I haven't ever covered my head unless it is freezing outside.

So what is the answer? It is a scary question.

Tom, my pastor, says that doubt is not separate from faith but part of it. It was a lot more comfortable though when I just stuffed my questions away and did not try to answer them.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Shame Again!

This shame issue is really frustrating. For the past few months I have been defeating it in my life everywhere. My relationship with my husband has shown the fruit. Our lives have become intimate in a new way. I am not sure I can even explain the place of acceptance and freedom from shame that I have felt with him these past months.

Then on Saturday, I was thinking how here I am at 52 feeling more sexual and more sexual freedom than I have felt since I was.......... and then the memories hit. And with them came the shame. It was as if I was being smothered. I began to panic as it overtook me.

I did what I know to do and quieted myself and assured myself that I could get past this too. If I had more I needed to deal with then so be it. I went to be hoping it would be gone by the next day. It was not.

Sunday I shared sexually intimate time with my husband and though everything was fine physically, I was not fine. I was not fine because I was not me. I felt the way I had felt for years - lost. Only I would not have described it that way before I knew there was something better. It was as if I was not there in some realm - perhaps spiritually. I went through the physical motions but a part of me was not there. Afterwards I fought panic even more. Finally I talked with my husband and that helped.

Today we have held hands and hugged and spent time together. I feel safe and accepted but I did not want to go beyond that. I am afraid.