Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Many Faces of Shame

Recently I have been learning about shame and how destructive it has and presently is in my life. And how it ties me to the lies that keep me from really enjoying my life the way the the Creator of the Universe intended. One of the main reasons shame is so powerful is because it is so quietly consistently there, eroding my self-worth. Like black mold that contaminates a house, over years, this small thing untreated condemns a whole home.

For years I have felt that something is wrong with me, that I feel I am "less than" others. It seeps into my life and soon everything I think is filtered through this thought. And then life circumstances come along, which seem to verify the lie, and the common denominator is me, so then it is true. There really is something wrong with me. So when people say something nice to me there must be a catch...or they want something from me. I find it hard to admit mistakes and I need to be "right" so I don't feel so bad. My emptiness grows through my life experiences which I am living through the warped distorted lenses of my initial lie "that there is something wrong with me."

Of course this shame does not just come in this one form, that would be just too simple. Next it is "if I just could go on a warm vacation I would feel better" or "if we had another car, a bigger house, a boat, a skiidoo...." fill in the blank, its endless. "If I had a better job, lost weight, my kids loved me..." I can not believe that I can be loved, adequate and accepted for free. I continually think that I have to earn or repay anything I receive from others or God, I need to do more and work harder. I struggle with accepting gifts, compliments or just about any good thing...I might let it in my head but most definitely shut it out of my heart. And then even knowing what I like or want in life becomes difficult to figure out...cause this lie just keeps growing, just like the mold.

One more way shame has crept into my life is feeling over-responsible for things that happen. I have looked at situations around me to see what I did to "cause" these circumstances to happen or what I should have done to stop them. And because of my "shame filter" I interpret that I am the problem. This is far to big a burden to carry, its really God's problem to run the world and all the problems in it. But it often appears to me that He is doing nothing so I better get started fixing the world by myself. This is absolutely EXHAUSTING!!!

With the help of my counselor, group therapy and lots of self-help reading, I am beginning to see the lies and exchange them for truths. And like I shared a few weeks ago the self-condemning voices I used to hear have been silenced. I still have distorted vision and more renovating to do in my thinking...but it is coming. And its almost like having new lenses to look at the world with. There is hope. Its not so hard and exhausting. I can leave problems, people's attitudes and opinions where they belong...cause I am not here on planet earth to fix anyone but me. I can see that life is going to suddenly become a whole heck of a lot of FUN!