The consequences of Shame
My abuser died. I felt nothing. No resentment. No Anger. No relief. Just “Meh”. Have you ever felt “meh”? To me that means “Whatever (never minded emoji)”. To you it might mean something else. He was also my ex- best friend’s dad and our neighbour during my childhood years. I am supposed to feel bad for not feeling bad and I don’t. I loved him like a dad. Which makes me question, what type of love makes you feel “meh” when the person dies?
I’ve gone through the grieving process more times than I can count on both hands and feet. Never was it like this.
The doors to my soul start leaking when I appreciate the beauty of the heavens or encounter a homeless person or read a sad story. Sometimes I laugh so hard , I start to cry. There is no short circuit in my wiring. I have a T-shirt that reads: “If my mouth doesn’t say it, my face surely will.” and it is so true to my essence. So why “MEH”?
Where I come from we use shame differently, to show compassion.
“ Shame, I am so sorry you have to go through that”, etc.
We have a misconception of the meaning of the word.
Shame is what makes you keep quiet when you are supposed to speak up. It turns you into a victim, when you should be a warrior. It is that feeling that makes you want to crawl into a corner and roll into the foetal position, preparing for the kicks of life. Shame is the seed that germinates into not good enough-ism. A disease that flourishes under social media. The fruit thereof is not that difficult to pronounce. Pretentious, Pronounced - PREE-TEN-SEE-US. You pretend so others can see how amazing your life is. In the process you loose your sense of self.
Authenticity is compromised. What the world expects becomes more important than who you are deep down.
Everything you buy, depreciates in value, (accept property of course) the moment you sign the dotted line. We bought a stunning BMW a few years ago . Sports pack built in with all the extras. After loyally paying it for 3 years, we had to pay the dealer 135K to take it off our hands, before we relocated. My point is this, the moment you compromise on who you are, your value decreases. Shame is the dotted line. It puts you in a compromising position. You lose your YOUniqueness(MY SPELLING). When someone dies , you end up wondering why you feel “MEH” as opposed to sympathising like everyone else.
It started when I was five ( that is as far back as I can remember. Our community was really close. More like one big family as opposed to neighbours. I still have a hard time changing my open door policy, even with strangers. I digress.
He would throw me up in the air and then bounce me on his “lap”, holding me tight. Fake tickling me whilst “accidently” touching my nipples. I hated it. I still remember the feeling of his “lap”. It felt wrong. My dad’s lap didn’t feel like that. Neither did one of my six brothers’. Maybe he was just different. He was a grown up and he wouldn’t do anything to hurt me. It would be rude to say no. I was being silly. Maybe I just didn’t understand and it was something new I had to learn. As time passed, he started unzipping his khaki shorts and rubbing his “snake” against my underwear. I sat there, allowing him to “tickle” my nipples till they were raw. Surely , I should trust him, he is a grown up after all. He was the kindest ,sweetest man. He always gave all the children money so he could practice his first aid on them. He taught us how to play computer games and had the biggest fish tank I had ever seen. He smelled funny though. He would load all the kids from the neighbourhood into the back of his van. 3 of us would sit in the front and he gave us driving lessons, whilst we sat on his “lap”. I was ALWAYS one of the 3. He would take us on hikes and stop at the Roadhouse, treating us to cadillacs and milkshake. A cadillac is a double bacon cheese burger covered in mushroom sauce. The bun is open and each half has a quarter pounder with cheese, bacon, fried egg and fried onions topped with peppery mushroom sauce.
He had step daughter. She looked like a super model. Tall with porcelain skin, high cheekbones and shiny black almond shaped asian eyes. She lived in her own room at the back. Sometimes I could hear her crying softly when we played in the backyard. I remember feeling sad that someone so perfect could be so unhappy. She would chase us away with her tear stained eyes ,telling us to go to our own houses. I later understood that she was trying to protect us.
One night my sister was in a car accident. My parents took me to my friends house, I must have been 8 or 9. I woke up in the middle of the night laying on his chest. I ran home, climbed through the window and avoided their house for years after that. I think I knew it was wrong because I was terrified of ALL other males.
I thought I had done something wrong and could not understand why he could not keep his hands of me. Shame made me bury the memory deep in my subconscious. Then, one of my brother’s older friends started doing exactly the same thing. He was about 15 years older than me. I did as I was told, like a good little girl (10) and kept it to myself, ashamed for being me. I never told anyone about this until recently. I locked it up deep inside of me, hoping the shame wouldn’t rot my bones from the inside out. I managed to convince myself it never happened. Until my other brother’s friend started coming to our shop for the same reason. He would push me against the wall, masturbating against me , still I kept my silence (13?). By this time I knew it was wrong and the shame consumed me. I avoided them and stayed at home.
I was about 15 and Uncle “ Jimmy” was laying on a blanket on the lawn when we came from school. It was about 6 years since I started avoiding him. Of course, I had to greet. Manners and all. One day as I was running past, he stopped me and showed me a stack of 50’s neatly tied with a rubber band. “ you know what I want, “ he said to me. I ran home and cried my eyes out. I told my mom about everything he had done to me. She stared into the abyss, dried eyed, whilst listening to me. Leave it with me, was all she said. He started disappearing at intervals but nothing else happened.
Two years later, in my final schoolyear, I went to my friend’s house. Not knowing he was back in the picture, I skipped to the front door. There he was. Legs stretched out on the couch, still wearing those same grotesque khaki shorts. He gave me the biggest smile and reminded me of the cat from Alice in wonderland: “ I never did anything to you”, he said. Terrified, I ran past him into my friends room. I quickly made an excuse for not being able to stay and left.
I replayed the scene in my head ,over and over and over again, like a hamster on a wheel. Going nowhere and not slowly. I finally convinced myself that it was not as bad as I imagined and put it “behind” me. Years after my mom’s passing I received a call from his wife. I knew he had left her for a younger woman four years prior. She wanted me to testify because she thought I needed counselling. I was about 22 and saw right through her. They ignored it when I needed help and wanted to use me as a mass weapon of destruction in the ultimate revenge. I wasn’t interested in playing Russian roulette with my mental health. I protected my friend for years because they asked me to. They said it would devastate her and yet now they were willing to tear her to pieces. She mentioned it was a conference call with an attorney. I calmly responded I don’t know what you are talking about and dropped the phone. I don’t think she ever forgave me , which is really sad, because shame was riding shot gun in her life as well.
Later in life, after I got married , he would still come to my house to visit. I would smile and chat and serve him. I would ask my husband to drive him home because he had walked all the way. He would tell me he was in love with me since I was 5 ,which is why he dated women who slightly resemble me. He was probably in his forties when I was 5. He would tell me that I am every man’s dream and every woman’s nightmare and I would pretend all of it is normal.
I would stay in abusive relationships because of that exact same shame. I would convince myself that I didn’t deserve any better because I was a filthy little girl. If someone cheated, I would convince myself it was my fault. If someone beat me up and embarrassed me in front of countless people ,it was because I shouldn’t have smiled with my friend’s son. If someone congratulated me on a job well done, I would make it my goal to high lite my mistakes and weaknesses. Fat shaming myself and putting everyone else on a pedestal became my game.
Death and destruction is in the power of the tongue. I was willfully self destructive. What people said to me or about me became more important to me than who I was. I lost my sense of self, if I even knew who I was. I would work endlessly to prove that I was worthy. Worthy to be loved. Worthy to be accepted. Worthy to be acknowledged and appreciated. The more I gave, the less gratifying it was. I was under the impression that I was being humble, modest and respectful. I was infact hating myself more and more each day without realising it.
LIFE has a way of saving us from ourselves. To me LIFE is Jesus. I love the fact that the colour of the lifeline in this picture is red. It represents the blood. All through the abuse, it was my faith in Him that kept me sane. That is a story for another time though. A lot of people would say ,if God is in control, why do these things happen? That too, is a story for another day. My story Cancer Liberated me and transformed a lifetime of programming into a spiritual awakening. will give you more insight as to just how LIFE stepped in and saved me.
I am not a victim. I know of too many people, women and men alike who normalise abuse and make excuses like I did. This is because of the perceptions that are ingrained into us as kids. This is for them. You are WORTHY. You are not alone .
Do not trade authenticity for popularity. If you do, Values are thrown out of the window and narcissm replaces both. PREE -TEN-SEE-US is crowned King of the INSTA castle and all is right with the world. Blinded by shame, we ride the wave, missing the formation of the tsunami in the distance.
Disrespect ,like everything else, comes in many ways, shapes and forms.
Never say or do anything that is not in alignment with who you are. Expose shame for what it is and you will be healthier, emotionally ,physically and spiritually.
If your child is uneasy about something, there is definitely a reason. Trust them, ALWAYS. Their safety is more important than their manners. Listen to them. ALWAYS. USE your WORDS. Childhood is about exploring. Let them get messy. Pray for them ALWAYS. Love them ALWAYS. Try not to Shame them and choose your words carefully. “Because I said so!” is never a reason, unless you want them to tell you, “Because I want to”.
Treat them the way you want to be treated. Respect is earned.
Shun shame and see the light to shine through.