A Specter Called Shame.

Shame is the sensation a person receives when they do something wrong, like the morning after they’ve drank too much and realize they made a fool of themselves. As long as they recognize the shame, learn from it and use it to spur them into a better direction, such as not drinking too much, it can be a useful tool.

Shame is defined as:

“a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.”

If shame, as a tool, could stay in its rightful place on the shelf until needed, it would be okay. But shame rarely stays in its proper place. It’s not shame’s fault. We as people take the tool down and misuse it.

I have done this frequently with my past mistakes. Every time a memory comes up where I acted foolishly or made a wrong choice, I feel the sting of shame creep up on my face. I push the memories back down and say it is covered by Jesus’ death on the cross. That is true, but because I push the memory away due to shame, I never learn what God wants me to learn from those memories. They can not be fully redeemed.

There is one shameful memory that keeps coming back to me over and over again. It is something I have never told anyone ever, not even my husband. This one memory has haunted me and fills me with shame every time it pops up.

The last few months I have been on this journey of not hiding from my feelings. I am on this journey of allowing my feelings to rise to the surface, exam them and then let them vaporize and blow away instead of stuffing them back down.(1) I was walking along the seawall one morning and this memory came to my mind once again. The familiar shame crept like a shade to the surface. I pushed it down as usual stating,

“I’ve been forgiven for this. I don’t have to think about it anymore.”

That is true, but it wasn’t allowing me to learn what I needed to learn from that mistake. It wasn’t allowing me to feel the feeling and let it go. I took the memory and asked God what he wanted me to see when I remembered it. What did he want me to feel? How did he feel when it happened and how does he feel now about it?

I put the memory in a glass box and examined it from all sides. I felt the shame still there, but not as strong. I began to look at the girl who made the poor choice. She was so young and desperate. She had all this hurt, which had not been dealt with. She was so strong for even functioning. Yes the girl, me, did make a mistake and it was my fault, but there were so many other circumstances surrounding that choice. I thought about if it were someone else’s life? What if I was reading a book, from birth until this poor choice. I would actually expect this choice of that person. It would not have come as a surprise and I would have wanted to hold that person, comfort them and tell them they were just looking for answers in the wrong place. Looking for something that only God can supply.

In doing this examination, I felt such sympathy for the young girl. I felt sympathy for me. The shame disappeared. Love filled the hole that shame left. I learned many more things from the examination. I’m no longer afraid of the memory.

It is no longer a specter lurking in the shadows.

I couldn’t think of a good song from this topic, but I like this song: Come Away From Jesus Culture

1. https://geneenroth.com


Wake Up!

I was struggling with eating and reading once again. I talked to myself.

“You don’t have to do this anymore. You can look at what you are scared of head-on and it won’t kill you. You do not have to numb yourself against pain or fear. You know this. Okay, what is giving you stress?”

I started focusing on my breathing to bring myself back to the present moment. A small little voice started speaking to me. It got louder as the thought materialized in my head.

“You can’t make me.”

It came up out from the depths of my gut. What is that? Where did that thought come from? I asked God and I heard,

“That is the little girl that wants to hide, that doesn’t want to feel and ultimately that you don’t want to let got of. She doesn’t want to fade into the background of your life. She is the abandoned child. She is the one without a father or mother or brother or sisters, but she is not who you are now. You are loved. You are loved by your children. You are loved by your husband. Your father, mother and siblings are there for you. You are not the lonely abandoned daughter. That is not your identity any longer.

I thought about that all day. A few nights after that, I had a dream. I went upstairs and in my bed there were two versions of myself. A tiny baby and a child around six years old. I woke the baby up and she got off the bed and started walking down the hallway. As she walked away she grew and by the time she turned the corner, her legs were fully form, but the rest of her body wasn’t done yet. I turned to the older version of myself. I woke her up and ran away. I didn’t want her to see me and get scared. It is scary looking at yourself. I woke up out of the dream going, “Whoa!”

I realize there is a part of me that doesn’t want to get better. I want to stay with what is familiar. I want the cushion of excuses. It scares me to shed the skin of lies and look at who I really am. What if I don’t like myself?

To Be Continued…

I love this song: Wake Me Up Inside by Evanescence

Taking the Terrifying Plunge to Stop Dieting.

A few weeks ago, I decided I would no longer diet. I would no longer call any food off limits. I was terrified. I knew I was going to blow up like a whale. As you know, I’m reading an awesome Geneen Roth book and this was some of what she talked about.

So I decided to try it. I was going to give it two weeks, knowing I’d gain about 10 pounds during that time. I decided to trust my body and eat what I wanted even though I didn’t feel my body could be trusted. It’s called mindful eating and it was liberating. I am no longer on a Gluten Free diet. I’m not allergic to wheat, there was no need. I can have ice-cream whenever I want. I can have anything whenever I want.

Here’s the kicker. Once I took away the restrictions, once I realized nothing was off limits, I didn’t want those things very often. If I do want them, one or two bites is plenty. I seriously can’t imagine eating more than one Ritz Cracker. That is all I need to get the yummy tastiness of it.

I still have days when I crave mindless eating. But these are signs of something else going on with me. I stop, feel myself breath and try to get still to see what’s going on. I feel. I pray. I am still.

Here is what I found out when I really stopped to taste my food.

1. I have been eating some bland food. Yuck! 2. I like my food super hot as in temperature – it gives me warm fuzzies. 3. I like my food spicy. 4. I don’t need a lot of food to feel full.

This last one was a shocker. If you know me, you know I can pack the food away. I can out eat my 6″ 2′ giant of a husband any day. (I’m 4″ 10′) It was truly amazing to myself and my husband how small of an amount of food could make me feel full when I took the time to actually taste it.

This mindful eating has made me realize how much of the time I’ve just been shoveling it in. I’ve been trying to fill the empty places with food instead being still and filling it with being alive and filling it with the Spirit.

To top it all off, I’ve actually lost a couple pounds!

I heard this wonderful song while going for my walk: You Make Me Come Alive.

Feeling My Feelings

I found out recently that my spiritual father died – Vern Seeley. I got to stay at their house one week during the summer and I officially accepted Jesus during that week. After that, things were a little less lonely. I did have God and I spoke to him as only a seven year old can about everything. God helped me get my 10,000 words in that no one else was interested in.

I’ve always loved God, but recently I’ve realized I felt abandoned and betrayed by my parents and God. It is a feeling I’ve never allowed myself to feel. I’ve alway stuffed it down guiltily.

As I stated in my last post, I’ve been reading Women Food and God. One of the things she tells you to do is question everything. Ask yourself what your body really wants. Does it want food or does it want sleep. Or do you really need to talk to someone. It was a revolution when I started asking myself what I wanted. I wondered why it was such ephoria for me to simply ask what I wanted. What does my body want? What is my body telling me? I’d never asked those questions before. I started feeling angry. Something was welling up inside of me and instead of stuffing it back down, I allowed it to bubble up and out.

What I heard myself say was, “Nobody ever asked me what I wanted.” I thought about that. No one, especially as a child, asked me what I wanted. My mother did not ask me if I wanted her to leave. My father did not ask me if it was okay that he checked out for a while. My sisters did not ask me if they could leave me and go live somewhere else. My brother did not ask me if he could ignore me. My father did not ask me if he could marry a woman and four children who were mean and took their own anger out on me. My mother did not consult me when she married an abusive husband and my only choice was to live with a step-mom and her mean children or live with just my mom and one abusive husband. I choose the later. My step-dad didn’t consult me when he decided it was against God to take food stamps, but God was okay with him not working. He didn’t ask if I minded never knowing where my next meal would come from. Most of all, God did not ask me if any of this was okay before he allowed it to happen. I know that hurting people, hurt people and I hold no ill will towards my family. I love them.

After allowing myself to feel and say these feelings that I’ve alway buried, the anger and betrayal seemed to bubble up and out and then drift away. There are small pockets still left, but I let them come up and then they go away. I have been living with those past feelings and stuffing them down only to realize I could feel them and let them go. They didn’t have to affect me. It’s okay to feel and once felt, it’s okay to let them go. They are the past and they can’t hurt me anymore.

It’s okay to feel the guilt and shame in realizing I did the same thing with my children. I made choices they might consider bad, without consulting them. I can feel that guilt and shame and then let it blow away along with the past. (Apologizing is a part of that.)

A friend of mine was asking me about the book I was reading. I told her a result of not stuffing my feelings was this concept of no one asking me as a child what I wanted or basically they didn’t ask me if they could wig out and leave me alone to fend for myself. She said, “Yea, but that’s how it always is.” I was taken aback for a second. I actually felt hurt. I didn’t know how to respond so I said, “that’s true, but I was realizing I was angry about it.” I thought back on why her statement hurt my feelings. I allowed my self to question and feel those hurt feelings instead of stuffing them like I normally would. I realized it felt like she was negating my feelings. Like she was negating my experience. Once I was able to name what I was feeling, I was able to feel it and let it go.

You know what song has to go here, right. Let it Go Sing-along. Enjoy and sing your heart out!

Self Destruction

When I was 14, I tried to destroy myself through alcohol. I don’t remember the last part of my 14th year because I blacked out so much from too much alcohol. I didn’t stop drinking until I became pregnant at the age of 15. I didn’t stop drinking for myself, but for the new reason I found to live. I never stopped to question why I didn’t like myself, why I was set on self destruction. Before the alcohol, it was food. That started around age 7 when I would sneak to the bread drawer in the middle of the night and start stuffing my face. After the alcohol, it went back to food. I remember at age 25 telling someone I hated hearing my name – hated it. Just hearing it made me cringe. Why the self loathing? I’m still not positive, but I know it’s not how God sees me.

Recently I started reading this amazing book a friend told me about, Women, Food, God, written by Geneen Roth. It talks about getting to know your present self. It talks about allowing yourself to feel. It has been an eye opener, but I keep thinking, why should I spend so much time on myself. Again, it went back to self loathing. Why didn’t I think I was worth it?

It is a lie that has been passed down through my family, women to women. We see the example left from the previous generation. They treated themselves as less than divine. They showed my generation they were the exception to God’s love. The thing I need to remember is I’m not a child anymore. I don’t have to accept what I was taught. I am now willing to question those generational lies.

What example do I want to leave my daughter? I want her to know she is a child of God and God sees her as precious – he gave his life for her. People see actions, not words. I want to influence my daughter and maybe even the generation before me. They learned it from their mother’s. Maybe I can be the generation used by God to put a stop to the lies and start passing on truth. A very strong motivator to put in the work of learning about who I really am and waking up to the life that is mine through Jesus. I am made in the image of God.

A song that comes to mind is Furious by Jeremy Riddle.