Sadly, my story is not original. It is not uncommon. I wish it were. I wish no one could relate because then no one would have experienced what I have.
We have in common the experience of tragedy, loss, abandonment, and abuse.
We have in common the many emotions that tumble around our minds and weave in and out of our lives. We experience triggers, flashbacks and nightmares. We all have had friends or family that assigned emotions, guilt or questions to us that were unwarranted and painful. We all have worked on, pushed forward, and worked through some of the most difficult situations and horrible events. Little by little. Moment by moment. We persevere and we overcome.
There are hundreds of things that could be slightly different and slightly the same in each of our stories, but most of us have one thing in common.
We have felt shame.
The dictionary defines shame as this:
shame: a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
“Caused by the consciousness of wrong!” We did nothing wrong. So we should feel no shame.
We do not innately feel shame. Shame is taught. Shame is transferred on to the innocent.
If a man comes up while I am walking down the street and punches me in the face leaving a black eye, would I feel shame?
If a person walked past me and stole my purse, would I feel shame?
No. Because none of those actions towards me had anything to do with me.
The only person that should feel shame is the person who has done the wrong.
So if we do not innately feel ashamed if a stranger punches us in the eye then why would we feel ashamed if we are sexually abused? We should not.
I titled my story Not My Secret…overcoming the shame of sexual abuse. I did this because, IT is not my secret. It was something that was done to me against my will that I don’t need to hold on to for anyone. It is a secret others wanted to be kept to protect their own shame.
To overcome the shame you first must realize and fully comprehend that the shame is not yours.
A shameful act was done by the abuser. Therefore, the shame remains on them.
The very first step in overcoming the feeling of shame is placing the burden of shame on those that committed the act against us. Transferring the shame we are feeling back to where it belongs, on them.
They put the shame there to wrap us in chains. They put the shame there to keep us silenced. They, they, they…not us. The shame is for them.
The second step is speaking the words, ” No! This is not my shame. I did nothing to be ashamed of. I do not accept the feeling of shame. I release the feeling of shame.”
Break away from that which is pushing you down and keeping you struggling. That one word, shame, carries with it a lifetime of struggle. It carries with it a weight that will pull you under faster than anything else. It has the power to keep you as a victim and prevent you from being a survivor. We all must release that word and every single feeling that comes along with it. It is not ours. The sooner we release it the sooner we move towards healing.
The third step is recognizing who in your life still makes you feel ashamed for what has been done to you. Then let them go. No one should continue being in your life that EVER makes you feel ashamed for what has happened to you. There are reasons far beyond my understanding why others put their shame on us. I could spend days writing about their possible issues of guilt and remorse. How their coping somehow involves victimizing us to make them feel less accountable. I could spend hours and hours talking about what they should do and how they should do it and why. Those people are not worth it. They have already wasted too much of your healing time. They do not deserve one more minute of your understanding, time, or excuses for their behavior. Their shame is not yours. Their issues are not yours. If they are embarrassed by what has been done to you then they do not truly care about you.
The only people in your life should be those who rejoice in your triumph. You should be surrounded by family and friends who will encourage you, lift you up, and let you feel.
My story has been that of great discovery of myself. I didn’t know who I was. Was I just the girl who many men abused? Was I the girl who was date raped? Was I the girl who felt alone and lost? Was I the girl who was told who to be? It took me a long time to realize who I am. It took me a lot of searching and sorting and reevaluating myself and everyone around me. I was molested. HE tried to make me feel ashamed. He tried to blame me. Family and friends tried to label me and make assumptions about me. Family and friends felt embarrassed and put their own feelings on me for years. I was so burdened by EVERYONE else that I lost sight of who I was. I allowed their shame to be my own. I was taught to feel shame. We are taught shame. It is not our own.
I feel as if I had this cloak of their burdens my entire life. They put it on me. This cloak that made me invisible to the real me. These burdens that were not my own.
I took the cloak off. When it fell, all the emotions attached to me fell with it. All the people who put it there fell to the ground. I rose above them. I stood above them. You will see who you really are when you remove the cloak that was put on you all those years ago.
It was not your fault you were raped. It was not your fault you were molested. It was not your fault you were beaten. It is not your shame. Release the shame and you will discover yourself. You will see that although these things happened TO you they are NOT you.
My story is the raw truth of my journey to overcome the shame of sexual abuse. Although I am still working through some kinks, and unwanted memories, I am now in control of this journey. I have released the shame that was never mine to begin with. I have discovered who I am and I love the person I have become.