{Birth of Shame}

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“Shame is a lie someone told you about yourself.” (Anais Nin)

“Shame is, variously, an effect, emotion, cognition, state, or condition. The roots of the word shame are thought to derive from an older word meaning ‘to cover’; as such, covering oneself, literally or figuratively, is a natural expression of shame.” (Wikipedia)

She knew something was wrong with her parents. Their marriage seemed only a dim shadow of something worth having. She never saw them show affection, only saw them tolerate. Never saw them enjoy, only saw them frustrated. Year after year she wondered why they kept on as they were and what it would be like to be in a family where the mom and dad liked each other. She clung to her siblings and her church family, they were her lifelines. She loved the land they lived in, and loved on. Acres to run around on and explore. Her father was less of a shadowed-man when it was just him with her or him with her and her twin sister. He showed them around outside and looked at nature through the lenses of time and experience and bravery. He enjoyed them. She could see a reflection of the man he was during those times. Her mom bought things to show her love, she could not bear any sort of relating that went deep, it was all too much for her all the time. She could see her pain in her eyes, she knew she gave all she had to give and that her well from which to draw from ran only so far down. The day came sooner than expected. Her father had long since moved out of the shared bedroom with her mother, but still this was not seen coming around the bend. He gathered them all together, asked them all at the same time. “I want a divorce.” Her sisters and herself all gathered on the couch just staring at him. She was in shock. Words started slinging around, it all became a blur. Anger took over. She just sat there. Parts of it fuzzy in her memory, it must be the pain is hiding so the memories stay hidden. Roots of family dug up in a frenzy, chopped to bits, the tree in pieces, shredded, barely resembling the life it once represented. A family forever fractured. Now what? Now where would she go? Who would leave? Who would stay? Why? Couldn’t things have been fixed long ago? Why did it come to this, this messy stabbing jumble of moments slung together in a downstairs spare bedroom. The scene of a family ruptured, never to be whole again. Something deep down broke in her that day, that moment when her father first spoke those words. The betrayal. Why was he asking us all for divorce? Was he breaking covenant with his daughters of blood and skin and DNA too? Had we just not fit the bill? Not been good enough? Failed the test? All that she knew was gone. Home was not really home anymore. Safe spaces became scary and dark places with new menacing threats. Family wasn’t family anymore. Family was still family. What was real and what was a mirage?<<<

Shame as a covering really stirs something deep in me. It began in my life with my parents’ divorcing as told above. That day in that downstairs spare bedroom in the house I grew up in. Like a tent it was raised and I began to live under it. Nothing was the same anymore after that. Friends changed, church changed, we eventually moved towns, new school, new everything, even a new stepdad pretty soon too. My parents weren’t trying to put anything on me, in fact I am sure they thought it all best for me and my siblings. But shame moved in.

Shame act 2 came crashing down just a couple years after the divorce. I became involved in a relationship that I am now reframing as clergy misconduct and abuse. I am currently facing this all anew. Suffice it to say the world of shame instantly became another galaxy of shame as all of this plummeted my barely-held-together new world straight down the rabbit hole faster than I could breathe. I am in the midst of finding more words about that time in my life, here is a narrative I wrote called Pieces. In time, I learned how to live under there, I made my home down there. I didn’t realize that everything was filtered through that covering, but it really was a whole new world I had been hurled into. Time passed, the shame stayed. It looked different over time but it was ever present. I can see it covering over decisions I made, friendships, romance, how I eventually related to my husband, to my kids, everything was affected. It is insidious.

Shame act 3 came with the stillbirth of my daughter, then the early miscarriage of my fourth child three years later. There is a world of words to say here as well, but I will end with this today:

I am in a war with shame. It will not win in the end. But I am battling it ferociously. A new face of shame has emerged now, but knowing it and recognizing it help me fight it better. It is not as insidious, I sense it, smell it, taste it, feel it. It will lose in the end. I am being delivered. This is the last act before the final curtain call.

I will leave you with another post on shame here called Knocking.

{Hope Wood © 2014}

::This post today is part of a link-up called Real Talk Tuesday (click RTT link). The topic was Shame. Join us for some real authentic words on our journeys towards wholeness::

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