Browsing Tag:

shame

Healing from the past: unraveling our stories and struggles

healing-from-the-past

I found a thread hanging loose from my shirt.

I tugged it gently thinking I could stop it from running.

But the slightest touch made it come undone.  

Before I could stop it the seam had unraveled.

Long, looping strands pulling away from neat stitches.

I tried so hard to keep it together.

I knotted the ends as tight as I could.

I meticulously sewed myself up so nothing could get in.

And yet a single strand sent the whole thing unraveling.

A tiny flaw in an integral stitch and everything fell apart.


 

I never thought I would need to see a counselor. I never thought my problems were worthy of such an extreme measure. I never felt like I was broken enough to need help putting the pieces back together again.

 

But I was wrong.

 

Strong people still feel weak. Happy people still cry. Sensible people still snap.

 

I didn’t cry. Not at first anyway. I was so proud of myself for that. At least I was still in control. At least I could still be contained.

 

But if you pull on a thread, it hardly ever snaps off a single piece. More often than not you’ll find that the thread you pulled keeps unraveling.

 

So that’s what happened.

 

One story looped through into another. On and on the pain I’d bottled up came flooding out.

 

Funnily enough, my biggest fear before I began was that I would have nothing to say. That we would sit for an hour in awkward silence, watching the clock hands inching around, eyes flickering from abstract art pieces to the flower vase on the coffee table.

 

You can imagine my surprise then that I found I could not keep the words from spilling out. I was a kitchen timer. Tick, tick, tick. I twisted around and around, a constant stream of stories, a tireless monologue.

 

I found myself smiling at things that weren’t funny. I laughed to mask the sadness.

 

And after every session I was always surprised that I felt nauseous. Physically ill from sharing such deep parts of myself. Like I had taken my internal organs and laid them out on the table in front of me. Inside parts always object to being outside.


 

This kind of vulnerability, this kind of healing is always painful. The deeper the wounds, the longer the healing process.

 

I wish I had sought after the healing sooner. I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time wallowing in the mess and brokenness. I wish I hadn’t tried to keep myself sewn up neat and tidy.

 

Because the unraveling of our stories is beautiful. The unwinding, the coming undone, the letting go…it’s exhilarating. We find the source of our sorrows. We discover the roots of our fear. We realize the truths that will set us free.


 

The unraveling made me aware of threads that had run through my entire life. Lies that had shaped me. Burdens that had strained me. Core beliefs that had hindered and blinded me for far too long.

 

Shame was one of these threads. Deep and sometimes indistinct. Winding itself around every good and lovely memory, choking the very life out of them.

 

It taught me to hate my body. It led me to hate myself. It taunted me until I had no choice but to hide my full self from the rest of the world. I put up walls around my heart, a sturdy shield of armour to avoid getting hurt.

 

Shame swallowed up my voice, never allowing me to give an opinion or share my real thoughts. It distorted my vision, making me believe I was never good enough. It whispered constantly in my ear that my body was a distraction to others and a burden to myself.

 

And at the end of the thread, where the knot meets the fabric, I found shame whispering to me that I would never be enough.

 

Week by week as I sat on that scratchy, white couch with its chevron cushions, I shared all of the ways shame had entangled me. Slowly but surely, in the releasing of words and the surrendering of tears, I felt the weight begin to lift off me.

 

healing from the past, moving on, letting go, counseling, therapy, shame, love, extending grace, self love,

 

I learnt that love and shame can never inhabit the same space. Shame needs darkness, dampness and very little oxygen to thrive.

But to love is to be free from shame.

 

Love is authentic, all-consuming. With nothing to hide. Nowhere to run.

 

To fight shame we must expose it to the light. We must drown it in truth. We must recognize its many faces and challenge each one of them.

 

That’s what counseling did for me. It caused me to notice all my loose threads that needed to be pulled.

 

It taught me to extend grace towards myself and others. To be kinder, gentler and more vulnerable. To wear my heart proudly on my sleeve once again.

To knock down the walls I had constructed as a defense for my fragile heart. To recognize the ways I was intuitively protecting and doing what is best for myself. 


 

I thought counselling would be like taking a sledgehammer to my foundations. That I would tear everything down and start all over again. But for me it was more about recognizing the parts of myself that needed redecorating. Attitudes that needed shifting. Negative thoughts that needed replacing.

It turns out that I didn’t need to be completely rebuilt…just reminded of the beauty I already possessed.

 

I was afraid that counseling would be a waste of time. But perhaps the biggest waste of time is denying yourself the opportunity to heal.

 

At the end of the day, that’s what we all need more of. Healing. Honesty. Hope. A gentle tug on our loose threads that begins the beautiful unraveling.

 

“I am nothing but a ripped fabric stitched together by God’s grace.” J.A. Anum

 

The antidote to shame

 

You will never be enough. The voice whispers over me. You don’t belong. It calls out as I go to sleep in the all-encompassing darkness. You are just an impostor. It greets me as I open my curtains to the beckoning morning light.

 

Then there is this sticky feeling, like molasses poured over my head. It drips down over me until I’m covered from head to toe. I’m blanketed in it. Blinded by it. It discolours everything that I look at. It destroys everything I touch. So I withdraw. Better that I wallow in the sticky fog than drag anyone down with me.

 

Shame.

 

The thick, blinding fog that mars every thought, misinterprets every encounter and paralyzes my fragile heart.

 

Its’ barbed tongue pierces my delicate flesh.

You are too young, nobody will take you seriously. You aren’t pretty enough, you aren’t clever enough, you aren’t fun enough…nobody will want you. You are too emotional, it’s exhausting for everybody around you.


 

I find myself crawling on my hands and knees to church every Sunday. Weighed down by these lies that shame hums over me seven days a week.

 

The first song starts and I stand motionless, gripping my hands together. I can’t look anyone in the eye. I can’t even look myself in the mirror. I can’t face a God who is so without fault.

 

So I stand as my fellow church-goers and friends sing a rising song. Shouting their adoration, clapping the rhythm of their joy.

 

I’m bitter. I’m empty, hollow like a crystal vase. You can see right through my pitiful display. I’m not fooling anyone.

 

They can see my failure. They know my shame.  

 

The guitar keeps twanging. The drums keep beating. The worship leaders keep singing. I remain glued to the spot.

 

I close my eyes. I bow my head. I slowly whisper the words, not the ones they are singing but the ones in my heart. The ones I’ve been hiding all week. The ones I’m afraid to say. Am I loved? Do you see me? Am I enough?

 

My heart is drumming as I await an answer. I expect a booming thunder. A roaring wind. A blaze of light. And instead the room begins to glow. Gold light shimmers down from above. I’m swept in a glow. The antidote to the dark, sticky molasses.

 

Love.

 

Gently the gold glitter rains down on me. Settles on my hands which are now outstretched, on my eyelids, lips and shoulders. Seeps into my skin and filters right down to my core.

 

A thousand failures disappear. All my shortcomings are erased. I slip on this new robe of grace and it is well with my soul.

 

antidote to shame, shame, faith, intentional living, healing, hope, God,

 

How can it be?

 

How can the one without fault find me under my blanket of shame? How can He lift my chin from the ground, meet my eye and love me all the same?

 

I was wrong about Him. I thought he would be mad at me for all the ways I’ve let him down. I thought he would be disappointed in the little I have amounted to. I thought he would agree with that voice I hear day and night…I thought he WAS that voice.

 

I was wrong.

 

Where there is light, there is no darkness. Where there is truth, there is no deception. Where there is love, there is no shame.

 

He doesn’t care if I can’t sing the words the others are. He doesn’t notice that I haven’t washed my hair in three days or that my socks don’t match or that I sang that note out of key. He’s just glad I’m here. He’s absolutely delighted that I came to him.


 

I hear whispers from neighbours. I see glances from people on the street. I know that there are people in this world who want to take advantage of me. There are people who only want me for my body, my success, my superficial attributes.  

 

And their approval feels good. It lifts me up and for a few seconds I’m flying. But it’s a temporary buzz. Over almost as quickly as it began. And I’m sinking again. Because all they saw was my pretty face and funny story.  

 

I’m thirsty for attention. I’m parched. Absolutely desperate for love.

 

Their attention and affection fills me up but like drinking salt water it only leads me further into dehydration.

 

I need more.

 

I need love that’s unconditional, unfailing, unending.

So I keep crawling back to church every Sunday. Not because I was raised that way. Not out of habit or to impress anyone. Not because I need the affection of the other desperate souls I find there.

 

But because I’ve found a well there. A well that springs up a different kind of water. A living water that finally quenches my thirst. In this place my need for love and approval is met. I find my worth and I am unquestionably different because of it.

 

I’m anointed with oil and the shame won’t stick. It drips down and slides right off me.

 

I am healed. I am whole. I am home.

 

“When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible.” – Brene Brown