Shame. This is something I am coming to grips with. Even though my ex is the one who abused me, I feel shame. I feel shame for marrying him in the first place and for not recognising how deep his issues were and how much they would affect me and my life. I feel shame that when he was having episodes I stood there and took it and couldn’t find my voice. I feel shame that I never made him face any consequences and always took the fall for him. I feel shame when I think of the people that he abused outside of me – I feel guilty when I recall the man at Pak-n-save and his tears after an encounter with my ex’s violent, unprovoked anger. This shame eats away at my insides. It takes away my self-confidence, it destroys my chances for full happiness in my new life after Pete.
I have just begun to realise that I am not alone in feeling this shame and that other women who have been abused, carry this shame with them too. Somehow, this knowledge that I am not alone in this has begun a realisation in me that I am wrongly holding onto Shame. Shame has become a constant feature in my life, almost an old friend that I hide behind. Shame has become my link to Pete and my past experiences. But letting go of this shame is actually the first step to finding my voice.
I long to be more assertive – with men in particular. I want to be able to speak up when a man touches me in a way that unsettles me, even if it is just a hug that lingers for too long for comfort, or if he says something judgemental that makes me feel trapped and a lesser woman because of my circumstances. But right now, shame is holding me back. I clam up in these situations – I sit there, frozen solid, the words are on the tip of my tongue but I cannot voice them. It is as though something deep in my subconscious is holding back. With Pete, I couldn’t voice my true feelings. If I did, I risked setting off an episode, and it was not worth it. But even though I am not with him, this pattern of behaviour has been continuing and it bothers me.
My desire is to be set free from fear. And it is fear that underpins my shame. It is fear of being misunderstood. Fear of not being ‘good enough, fear that I will be forever marred and scarred from leaving Pete. Fear that I am ‘unlovable’ in some way because of my past. I often have this feeling that I have the word ‘separated’ tattooed on my face and therefore I am afraid to tell people my story because of concern that they will view me differently and judge me based on that one fact alone rather than taking the time to discover the real me. For I am truly more than that. My merits are not based on my marriage or job or family or anything that I am linked to. My merits lie in my depth of character, my hopes, my joy and my zeal for life.
In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge;
Let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness
Praise the Lord for his promise that in Him I am a new creation the old has gone the new has come. He does not condemn me, I stand before Him renewed and with a clean conscience. I do not need to be afraid to share about what has gone on before, I can not change the past but I can change my future. I do no need to continue to carry the shame for my husband. It was never mine to bear. I hand it back to him to deal with. It no longer has any hold over me.
I have written a poem on shame based on my own personal experience, it is titled ‘The Passing of Shame.”
Click the above link to view the poem on my Facebook page Courageous Women.