Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Shining the Light on the Shame

I've only been writing this blog for a short time. 

But in the days of starting this, I've been so amazed at how people have contacted me - either through leaving a comment or emailing me directly.  So many have said, "I understand" or "I am going through this now" or just simply, "Thank you."  I've even gotten "You're so brave" and "Good for you."

It's comments like that that encourage me to keep going.  To keep sharing my struggles, my pain, and my shame.

But the other night, I had doubts.....some major, major doubts.

You see - most of the comments I've gotten are from people I don't know or only have a "cyber" acquaintance with.  So far, no one I've known in real life has said anything to me at all -- until the other night.

We were at the home of some very, very close friends of ours.  You may have read about me writing about my dear friend Cindy and her family -- the family who took me under their wing when I first moved out here.  They are the closest thing to family here that I have.

Well, Cindy's one daughter and I started talking in the kitchen and she said, "I read your blog."  And I thought - Awesome!  She reads The Toy Box Years!  But when she said, "You're so brave to tell your story", my heart sank.  She wasn't talking about The Toy Box Years.  She was talking about this blog.  The blog about my deep, dark secret.  I was so humiliated.  I don't remember what I said in response - I just remember just smiling and thanking her for the encouragement -- when all I wanted to do was crawl into a hole.

Someone I knew - someone that I actually see frequently - now knows my deepest, darkest secret.  It was as if all my shame and embarassment was written all over me for all to see.  Which, in fact, it is with this blog.

I knew when I started this that people who knew me would read it.  But I just didn't expect how deeply it would affect me when someone I truly knew WOULD read it and possibly comment on it.  It's like jumping completely into a spotlight on an empty stage completely naked.  Everyone can see all my flaws, my insecurites.  I could try to cover myself up - but you would still see it all.  And I gotta tell you -- it ain't pretty.

I suppose I had mixed emotions about it for a few reasons.  Underneath it all I suppose I was grateful because it allowed me to realize that there is a crack in the facade that I put up for people.  The mask I wear when I smile and say, "I'm fine" or "Everything's alright".  I can look someone in the eye - with all my flaws and shame - and know that I'm still loved in spite of it all.

But on the flip side, I still want to hide that shame.  And even though I've somewhat been "outed", I could choose to stop writing about this.  To keep my secrets to myself.  To run away and hide and ignore it -- my usual defense mechanism.  Ignore it and it will go away.  Hide the bills in a box and they'll stop coming.  Ignore the phone calls and they'll stop.  Delete the voice mails and it never happened.

But it won't go away.  It did happen.  The bills will keep coming.  The phone calls will keep coming.  And the shame will still be there if I don't face it.

For the first time in my life - I'm not running away.  The layers are being peeled away.  And I just have to have faith that I'll continue to be strong enough to share and heal.