(Wrote all over my walls before painting it…)
Shame is silent
Should have could have
My Journey of shedding those layers of shame…
I want to share my experience and the direct correlation to my life today.
Avoidance (pushed this off till late last night)
Doubting myself wanting to back out million reasons (boring, not good, waste e/o time when e/o there)
Breaking out of shame, I’ve felt that sudden burning desire to tell the world to say something to others, to rip off the layers of skin that say bad, used, faulty, sinful, and (damaged goods) weak, bad, and critical, and sad…
You touched me… and taught me I’m not safe around the ones I love and care about me.
What I feel and what I’ve been told contradict each other
Leaving me confused, not knowing what’s right and wrong.
I’ve taken on Tznius so strong and so piously. No!
I couldn’t face the topics high school girls chatted about regularly: about their period, waxings, bras… the works, I couldn’t stand love songs and people talking in endearing terms… I have always run from such topics and even typing now my physical being feels so shame filled.
A body grows and matures which is a miracle of creation and leading to a miraculous peak of procreation.
But I don’t feel that. Instead I feel shame:
Shame of my growing body, shame of maturing,
Shame of physical topics being discussed freely,
Too shameful to ever look myself in the mirror without clothes that hide and protect me.
To shameful to ask the questions that come with physical maturing,
(I had to listen in from the door as my mother spoke to my sister because I couldn’t ask what I so badly needed to know.)
To shameful to reach out & express or share any feelings other then happy
To much shame of being human: imperfect, & not in control.
So much shame to admit that feelings sexual feelings are human and not sinful nor bad.
On both ends: 1. Having tightened up so much to not feel both bad or good, to remove from feeling altogether and 2. So much intense shame of having physical feelings which alone I allowed myself to be with…
I’ve gotten past so much of this shame yet this shame of accepting physical/sexual stimulation as human/natural, not bad/sinful/dirty/or disgusting. This one still stands guard and ever protective of my inner little one.
Finally facing it I have allowed myself to see that I am controlling myself, I am controlling myself to not feel, I tighten and tighten and shut down deep in fear of feeling. And to the extreme extent that through my therapy work I’ve been trying to work on releasing & relaxing all the tightness when with my husband, to let my body melt a little, and when I did that and still did not feel any arousal, I felt so happy, so relieved that my control has taken over so much that there is no more feeling to access even when I put my guard down.
I know its messed up. And I know that its all trauma, but controlling my sexuality has become my safe place to be.
I don’t want to admit it, but if I face the truth (which I must) then I must know that this is a trauma reaction, and my true self can feel sexual pleasure and can want it and its ok.
Every word I just said was so difficult to write because it goes against my protection and what I’ve been shamed to believe.
I was told “I want to help prepare you for marriage” there couldn’t have been something farther from the truth! (at the time I wondered y anyone would want to be married and di this)
I was told “I like it” and my head scram “I DO NOT!” while he depicted scenes of beautiful gardens or whatever imaginative scenes you can create as if it’s a “we” here when you know surely can sense I’m tight and afraid, and going far away as I can while still feeling present and so scared and alone keeping on hoping he doesn’t do more/farther… which my mind does not control & you did. Trying to pretend im sleeping whener the steps creaked, going to sleep early and fear in going to get a drink in the middle of the night knowing you may be up at wee hours (which you often were), Hating your divrei torah which all ended with the lesson being “kibbus av v’aim knowing you were talking to me and my anger at those “divrei torah only met laughter and it being done even more… showing me mekoros in the Torah? Making me feel evil and bad when I speak up and say that I don’t like it, Wondering how come no one ever came to stop? How can there be people sleeping peacefully upstairs now (or even in the bed over) while Im fighting for my self to not be taken away?? Wanting so badly to trust and trying to give you opportunities, failed opportunities! How can you say such lies to me and tell me mommy knew and was ok with it. Making me feel sorry for you and overburding me (a little child) with all your struggles… violating me physically and emotionaly, taking away my safety to be and to express myself (reading my writing),
The rabbis said its good if every daughter could (obviously I’m special that I can) Mom is ok with it, and I’m helping fill the void of how she cant be there for you!!! (or perhaps she was niddah and you couldn’t control yourself and your sexual needs)
inside, outside, sukkah, basement… you made everywhere unsafe. And so much confusion because you truly loved me… or I thought you did…You didn’t just teach my to not feel safe and accept sexuality as a nature god created with a divine purpose, but you taught me that sexual arousal is selfish and its uncontrollable… and that teaches me not to trust interdependence and a fear of another’s sexual needs.
You took away my reality. My truth. I’ve built my life around protecting myself. (all in the name of religion) To cover up extra; I never wore short sleeve pajama shirts, I never spoke of my physical body/bodily needs, and I believe I’ve postponed my own puberty by holding so tight to not allow the physical growth that made me more womanly (which I celebrated the delay). I never wore makeup or dressed up elegant or with it, I would deny my physicality (thinking I was being extra religious) – not wearing lenses to realize the world was not about physicality – not looking in mirrors at all because that was vain and bad. Driving in a car in intense heat, not turning the air on in the belief that we are here to test our ability to remove from our physical into spiritual realm, out of my body and into my mind. That’s not a genuine, child.
That’s shame taking over and telling me bodies are bad and sinful.
How can anyone especially a parent take away our genuine true selves and in place leave us as empty, & shame filled shells trying to survive in the world, at work, with peers, and with our families and in our marriages.
The only way to get rid of shame to call a spade a spade.
It is not mine. It is not me.
My soul’s purpose isn’t to shut myself out and aside for the needs of others, but to find me and be the best me I can.
Sharing my story and sharing my truth is unearthing the shame and saying its not me. He did this to me, and I’m digging it up and off the mounds of dirt.
To be able to take those leaps (within safety and support) to expose the ugly for what it is.
We don’t have to live our lives being protectors for our abusers:
not wanting to ruin their name, still feeling care and compassion for them… We can speak the words the little girl couldn’t that were taken away from her in cruelty, confusion, and betrayal.
We are survivors of identity theft. We are pulling ourselves out and filling the shell that was hollowed out by another’s’ selfish hands.
I read in book I referenced to before “miss America by day” a true and personal story of sexual abuse and recovery by Marylin Van Debur. She became a public speaker and shifted her career to educate and help those sexualy abused to find healing. At the end of each speech she gave she asked all survivors to stand. What started with one rising hesitantly led to numerous shame filled figures standing in unison with a common ground of pain and this as taking the first step into the truth.
Shame is shed by sharing it, by separating ourselves which we view as the damaged goods/guilty/dirty… to see our purity, beauty, and innocence which was hidden from us and see that the abuser is the “dirty” “faulty” “sinful” one.
We are carrying shame that we don’t deserve for too long. And it hurting us, and tearing at us, pulling us down deep, and distant and giving us negative messages about our self value, our wort and engraving into us that we cannot make change and live fully safe, well balanced, loving & lovable.
It is in this thought that Im working towards, saying the words that to be only expressed where no one can see (if even there is safe enough) to speak up and say it although I carry so much shame. Its not mine. It never was and Im working to tweeze it all apart.
The first time I shared my experience, I said nothing, just made the other guess and guess and was trembling and so afraid…
In telling my husband how I feel when things are hard and not to either shut down or over push myself stands up for my inner childs and help distinguish whats truth vs. trauma…
In going to therapy and pushing the painful words out of me sheds deeps layers buried within and disguised…
In reading about others in similar situations, journaling, drawing…
But more then anything the most powerful and effective shame shedder is speaking up among other people. As (Gitty) the therapist of my group therapy puts it so well: The trauma was done with people by people, the healing must be done with people as well.
And with each share I shed more layers and hopefully am not far now from my inner truthful pure center. The core of my being in its beautiful raw human state.
I shared with a few coworkers this year and while waiting for their response my fear grew so strong that I just lost all my validity and respect they will no longer see me that same way or hear what I have to say the same way…
I joined a forum where I can say as I wish, be supportive to others, reach out with anonymity for help when I feel I need it.
In joining this group and in sharing tonight I am shedding more of the layers of shame