Shame

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I live with the memories of what happened to me. There are times when my childhood memories are painfully present; having been triggered by current events and  bringing up  feelings from long ago.  There are  emotions welling up inside me, seemingly random.  Except, they are not. Nor are they so easily dismissed as they once were. And lately, it seems my strongest feelings are about  feeling ashamed.  For no real reason, it’s my predominate response to just about everything.  It’s a  struggle to lessen the intensity and effects of shame. The only way seems to be  through examining my feelings in my everyday life.

I pay particular attention to how my feelings of shame are reflected in my physical body.  Shame stops my mind from thinking, locks up my vocal chords, flushes my face and makes me watch the ground. My eyes could give away what is going on inside me, so I protect myself, by avoiding eye contact with others. I feel raw. My breathing becomes shallow. Sometimes I space out.  

Shameful feelings make me feel dirty and ugly.

To be willing to see the truth of why I was raped, I had to be willing to examine the details of my memories,  remember exactly what happened and what he said. And more importantly I had to know how it made me feel.  Believe me, just surviving was hard enough, it took me even more courage to go back and relive it again.  Even though I don’t believe I am all that courageous, I was determined to get back what was taken.

 He explained to me, it was because I was beautiful that he had to have sex with me.  Had I been an ugly child, he said, he would have left me alone (by the way, that was a lie, he would not have).   It took along time for me to identify that I felt ashamed. It came in an unlikely way, through my career choices.

To most anyone, it’s not surprising that I would want to become a counselor. Even though I completed my education and part of my licensure, I never really practiced.  I became a Massage Therapist during my University studies. I didn’t quit doing massage until this year. From my experiences during massage,  I learned to be able to feel safe with someone else touching me. I learned good boundaries, giving and receiving non sexual touch. I learned how to be present in my body and recognize what my body felt like.  And then after quite a bit of time passed, I made another career choice, to practice Esthetics. But at the time, I didn’t recognize it was to heal my issues of beauty and shame.

I intend to write more details about my issues of beauty and shame, and how they were healed through the practice of esthetics. There were specific experiences that  helped me to move past the shame of being a woman, my belief of  being vulnerable to harm because of how I look.  Through the last few years, I have edged closer to feeling like I am able to protect myself.  I learned there is plenty of  beauty in our world, and it doesn’t make it a target for harm. I am  making the best of what I have and learning to love what I have been blessed with. I have a admiration for beauty, just because it makes me  feel good.  What is the  harder emotional work is discerning the differences between receptive  feminine energies  and  victim behaviors disguised under people pleasing.  They are closely related for me. 

 But there is also a darker side to working in the beauty industry that I never suspected. There is a competitiveness between co workers that is sometimes cruel.  We betray ourselves and other women, our customers and our moral code with artificial standards. Also, the needs of vanity, and the cruelty we subject ourselves to in the name of “looking good” is exceedingly harmful to us.  Because of my intense examination of my own beliefs regarding beauty and vulnerability,  I feel freer today, more  than I have ever felt.  I have a growing curiosity about what is next in my healing process.

It’s humbling to stand in all this beauty surrounding me. Even though I  have been raped as a child and  even though my body is getting older I do have moments of feeling beautiful.  It’s not much. But another step in my healing has happened. I have felt a sense of peace. This growing peace is what helps me to go on and make my way through these memories. I have chosen being alive, instead of deadening and denying what happened.   

 Another choice I make is being consciously committed to being truthful. Because of the dishonesty so necessary for childhood sexual abuse to occur, I don’t have a good relationship with recognizing truth.  I told  myself and others lies, to protect myself and to protect the perpetrator. It’s important to be truthful  for real healing. So, I write about being able to see both sides both good and bad, light and dark of what ever issue I am dealing with.  Its one of my ways of identifying if I am being truthful with myself. It seems  a more complete picture.  I don’t know what it would have been like to have grown up in a truthful family.

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5 thoughts on “Shame

  1. Lynn Obermoeller

    You always amaze me with your insight. Maybe not in the same way, but I think everything that you write about can be applied to other aspects of life, not just those who have been abused, if that makes sense. Like being truthful, looking deeply into ourselves, being okay with who we are physically as well as emotionally, learning to grow and discover new things about ourselves regardless of how painful it can be at times. And hey, you ARE courageous girlfriend. Keep on writing, keep on healing. Love your way.

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    • eckist33

      Isn’t that the truth, one aspect of healing from the wounding of sexual abuse is that the lessons I have learned are the same one’s that everyone has to learn.. its just that it’s applied against the backdrop of sexual abuse. which is funny because the idea that he implanted in me was it happened because I was special in some way~i was beautiful, i deserved his special love, etc, ~and come to find out, its not true. I’m not special, there are plenty of adult children who have experienced sexual violation.. and plenty of adults too.

      thank you for being such a great supporting voice of my writing about this. publicly sharing is a part of my healing and you have a large part to play in gathering my courage and getting it out. I didn’t cause what happened, and I don’t have to protect others from knowing.

      all my love to you kim

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  2. Michele Morrison

    I think most of us hide from truth in varying degrees and struggle to find our way back into the “light” of knowing our blocks to real love and free expression of our true selves. Yes, just different backdrops and configurations to provide the grist for uncovering and revealing this…in our own good way. Love how your career choices are super-imposed or interfaced with abuse healing…you are one smart cookie to know and appreciate their benefits. The subtleties of shame are so HARD to deal with…I know! Guilt and shame are the toughest things to unravel inside us, and what you’re doing, and me, too, and what we must all do, is let that creepy stuff surface and be released…easier said then done, dang it. But it is all crap…not the truth or beauty of our real selves, so moving onto that…SOMEHOW….? Just by wanting to is the fuel.
    Love you,
    Michele

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    • eckist33

      the reward of telling the truth is amazingly gratifying when its complete. No matter what the issue and situation is involving. Trying to find a kind way is my next step in sticking with the truth. That promises to be a step on the path to becoming more loving.
      What I appreciate about your comments is confirmation of the desire for emotional truth telling. It’s painstaking work but immensely satisfying in terms of being able to connect with others. And while guilt and shame are part of human emotions, they are not supposed to be the guiding light that we use to make all our decisions with, they are to be used as warning beacons when we are taking some actions against our basic humanity. At least that is my thoughts for now. I might have to reevaluate at a later date.

      All my love to you,
      Kim

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  3. Marty Wolins

    Deeply feeling your truth in speaking out on this. I am just learning that shame can be much more than just an emotion, it can be tied into our survival energies (like fight/flight/immobility) and at that level of intensity. Thank you for lifting the veil of secrecy.

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