Effects of Abuse. Guilt, Shame and SolutionsBy
In this post I have purposely not defined exactly what kind of abuse I am talking about. Really they all cause similar damage. It is my hope that the reader will define “it” for themselves as it has impacted their own life.
I was convinced that if I kept “it” a secret that no one would know and it would go away.
Then I thought that if I could just figure out what I had done wrong to bring on such a thing, or if I could figure out what I had done to deserve it, I could stop doing whatever behavior that it was, so this terrible thing wouldn’t happen to me again. But because I could not figure out what “it” was, I was never sure that I had stopped doing it and I lived in constant fear.
Then I was convinced that if I told someone, then someone else would know and it would go away.
Then I thought that if I dug deep into all the details, admitted everything that happened, even what I did or agreed to in order to protect myself, even what I thought was my fault, even my own guilt and shame, that it would go away. But it didn’t.
I thought if I “put it behind me” that I would be free. But I wasn’t free and I didn’t know HOW to put it behind me. Everyone told me to “let it go” but no one told me how. They said “just give it to God” and I said how? They said “have faith” and I said HOW? I tried and I tried harder and harder and they said “just believe” and I said okay… because I was exhausted.
I thought that if I acted as if I was happy, joyous and free, that eventually I would be. It didn’t work.
I tried travel. I tried bright lights and exotic locations. That wasn’t the answer.
I prayed for years, at first just praying to die, and then praying for the answer, the truth, for freedom from the struggle. I tried religion, spirituality, meditation, relaxation, and bible study, and although each worked for a time, I often felt rebellious, unworthy, and even more aware of my shortcomings. Sometimes I felt too ashamed to go to God. Sometimes I felt that He had abandoned me too. I was ashamed that I thought that. Then there was more confusion, more guilt and shame, more self loathing and self blame.
I tried men, and then marriage and children. The fear of failure made it worse. How could I raise healthy children if I was so messed up and couldn’t seem to break the lifelong cycle of depression, guilt, shame, self blame and low self esteem?
Then I thought that if I threw myself into making everyone else happy that I would be fulfilled. That didn’t work either.
More guilt and shame; more feelings of failure and worthlessness. More depression.
I tried vitamins, whole foods and physical fitness but my spirit never caught up with me.
It was when I looked at the details of my life through new eyes that I began to see things differently.
It was when I looked at the details of the events AND the details after the events that became the key. It was the looking at the whole picture. The first thing that I realized was that the guilt and shame were not mine to carry. Even though I only realized this about ONE event at first, it was a beginning.
I began to heal when I realized that I believed a lot of lies about myself and when I understood how I came to believe them I was able to change the beliefs that I had about myself, and the abuse. I was able to change the belief that it was my fault. I saw that it wasn’t something that I had done so I didn’t have to keep looking for something to stop doing. I was able to see how people, more powerful and influential then I was, used actions, looks and sometimes words to manipulate me into believing I deserved what they did and then believing that I was unworthy of better. I was able to see how they misused their power.
As I began to look at the whole picture, I began to get a different picture. As I continued with this work I emerged from the broken life I was living as a broken and discouraged woman, into a life of fullness and wholeness. I felt peace and love flow into me, replacing the guilt and shame. I came to understand my worth, my value and my ability to love. I began to appreciate myself and recognize my gifts. My self esteem grew, my depressions became less frequent and eventually disappeared and the fragmented person that I used to be, emerged into one whole healthy wonderful person.
I pursued the truth and I found it and it set me free.
Please share your thoughts and comments.