“Shame is a feeling deep within our being that makes us want to hide.”
I had hidden shame. It was such shame that stemmed from the feeling of being exposed (in my case I was exposed), being made visible, and examined by another who was rather critical of me. Because of this feeling, I wanted to be invisible.
Experiencing this type of shame, my eyes began to turn inward–becoming an enormous self-judging problem. I saw myself as a failure. I felt as if I was a mistake, which made many mistakes.
As a child, I tried hard not to make mistakes. I felt I needed to meet the expectations of others, or what I thought others wanted. I feared that others would reject me if I did not meet their expectations.
I equated some of my feelings of shame to the abandonment and isolation that I experienced from those important to me. I apparently took this to be that I was not valued enough–to be taken care of.
As a child I was dependent on others. Being valued was important to me. When that support was missing, I am sure I began to unconsciously think I was unworthy–disconnecting within my world more and more.
At times my shame felt proportionate with the situation. Sometimes, I was able to laugh off the small instances, and move on; other times, I just wanted to hide. There are times I still just want hide. It’s like when I hid behind my hands. It gave me a sense of not being exposed.
Sometimes in my sense of hiding, or going away, is where the thought of suicide came into play. I began to self-devalue myself, and self-hate. Why not? Others have thought that about me…or so “I thought”.
The anxiety that I experienced as a child was often due to the fear of punishment. My thoughts would be when would my step father come again? What have I done to deserve this? Will I ever be good enough to warrant praise? I thought I must be very bad to be so punished. I would often feel guilty for upsetting him enough to do such things. I would associate feelings of guilt with being punished. Even today, I may apologize for something that I did not do (although I do lots of things that need apologizing for).
I felt completely alone as a child. I was alone. I was the only child. Within the solitude of isolation is where I began to think I was unlovable and even invisible—that I was a big mistake.
In essence, I began to lose myself within my self. I tended to “magnify” how I thought others were viewing me. I may had the feeling of disgust for not living up to other’s expectations. I wanted to be needed, be perfect, and to be loved and accepted by others. When my expectations were eluded, or thought to not be met, I felt isolated…even when it is my own self doing. I still do this at times.
I know that some of the unresolved, unspoken, and repetitive shame I experienced as a child has caused pain throughout my whole life. My shame has been rooted into my heart in a negative way. I let those negative messages fester over the years. It became a part of my everyday life. I had become what I thought I was—a mistake. I was lost in the darkness, not attempting to see any light.
Over the last couple of years I have begun to let the Lord use my shame to make positive changes in my life. Jesus began to open the door to my heart. This was the door that I have kept closed for most of my life. He has slowly opened that door allowing me to look back at the shame of the sexual abuse that I endured.
I have leaned heavily on that door–keeping it shut for many, many years. It is not that I had forgotten about what happened, but I chose to place it in a part of my heart that I did not want to see, or open. It was nice and dark over in that corner—trying to be invisible. I did not want to look; but, Jesus has taken my hand, and He has begun to slowly open that door.
Once He opened the door the memories of abuse came flooding back. I could see the various acts that had happened to me as a child, and I was scared.
While standing at the door I have noticed that there was a light behind me, but not really thinking much about it.
What was Jesus trying to show me about my past?
All of a sudden, I thought about how I felt when I was pinned down by my stepfather. How I felt completely powerless, naked, and exposed! I was angry!
Then Jesus pointed out to me how His naked, exposed body had been nailed to the cross, and He, too, was completely powerless.
And uh yes…what’s your point? I am thinking about me, Lord, not you.
Then I began to think about those who were near me, and did not take up for me. The time the “friend” was in the chicken shack while her uncle did the unthinkable. How there was no investigation about how I got all those bruises? Why didn’t the doctor pursue what he had original thought—that I might be pregnant? There was no investigation. Others sat back and did nothing!
Then Jesus pointed out to me that He, too, had friends and family who stood by and did nothing to help.
I had never thought about it in this way. Yes, I know the story, but had I never really thought about how abandoned Jesus must of felt. I was only thinking of “me” and how I felt.
It is true! Jesus, the King of Kings, was nailed on the cross, and not one person tried to help Him while He suffered. And who did He suffer on the cross for? He suffered for all those who were watching in the crowd.
In essence, I was in the crowd. I was the one who shamed Christ. I pinned him down with my sins. I was the one who caused His suffering and the exposing of His naked body. Jesus took my shame. He did it all for me.
Jesus could have saved Himself, but He made the greatest sacrifice so I could live. Jesus despised the shame so much that He endured the cross taking on all of my hidden shame and guilt that I pinned Him down with and gave me grace. The grace that I had so desired is now the grace that I have received. Thank you for His love and grace that has given me hope to stop hiding my shame!
“…who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame,…” ~ Hebrews 12:2