I’m convinced we can’t escape our childhood sexual abuse without shame. It sticks to us no matter how much we achieve and in spite of loving relationships. This disempowering feeling is one of the big challenges in healing… which means it also holds some of our richest insights to help us live our potential.
A hundred people can tell us this shame is not ours, that it belongs to our abusers. And they are right, but it doesn’t seem to diminish the swirl of humiliating disgrace and guilt we feel. Logic doesn’t erase the inner recording that has us convinced we deserve the label pinned to our identity.
For me, healing this misplaced belief about myself meant going back to the moment shame seeped into my being and took root. With the help of my therapist, I was able to go beyond remembering. I got to see the circumstance in context… through the eyes of childhood, trauma, powerlessness, and betrayal. That’s when I could see the shame I had taken forward was not mine.
It was a daring journey, but I never carried the shame again. I had chosen to leave it with my abuser.
As my healing continued and different shades of shame would occasionally reach out for me, I learned to send it back by using imagery. I saw shame as muddy, green slime and I would imagine grabbing it and throwing it back on my abuser until he was buried. Then I would stand tall in my new awareness, inviting sparkles of my possibilities to fill the air around me.
Notes along the way… Jeanne McElvaney
Inspired by Spirit Unbroken: Abby's Story
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