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.


Jenny said...

Thank you for your comment, it lead me here. I don't know your full story, but I can relate to your shame over debt. We have been hard at work attacking our debt since the beginning of 2008. In the time since my husband lost his job and we had another baby. But we have managed to not add to the debt and in January it will be three years, and we will have paid off $50K in debt. And unfortunately there is still a ways to go. You are not alone. I promise. Even many of those that are not what you might identify as a compulsive spendor/debtor are in over their heads with cars and mortgages that make life difficult, and somewhere along the lines we've been taught that if you ONLY have a house and two new cars as your debt, you are debt free. Well that simply isn't true. How is it that we live in a world where 300-400K in debt is debt free? Our Grandfathers would roll in their grave.

I also want to tell you that it isn't your fault that you got here (wherever here is, like I said, I need to read more of your backstory). Corporations have spent BIG bucks convincing us that we NEED more than we do and they have provided an easy way to get it. It's not our fault that we got here, all we can do is make a plan, and be patient and diligent to get there. Each January, we celebrate how much we've paid off, because it is hard to feel like we are getting anywhere. We are still broke, just like we were when we were adding debt, even more so. But take snapshots of what you've accomplished. We follow many of Dave Ramsey's tips because he's worked for us, and reading one of his books is what gave us our wake up call that adding a few hundred a month to our debt to make ends meet was not okay. As you know, $1000 can appear on a credit card in the blink of an eye, but it takes months to pay that off.

Good for you for talking about this. I've been told "I can't believe you gave the $$ amount, that's too much information". It's not like I'm putting my SSN on my blog, but in January of 2009, I wanted to celebrate how far we'd come! Putting it out there also suggests to others that it is possible, I didn't get many comments about that blog either, but I can only hope that I might have encouraged someone who was not brave enough to reply.

Good luck to you... I would love to be a support and encouragement to you and your beautiful family. You are doing good!

Lynn said...

Please keeping writing on this blog. It is an important topic that hardly anyone talks about. My husband and I have both been overspending for years. We decided last month to put ourselves on a no new charges on our credit card diet. In the past if I had cash I paid with cash. But if I "wanted" something I wiped out the credit card instead of waiting for the next payday. I agree with Jenny's comment about corporations driving our "need" to spend not only our current money but our future paychecks also! In the past we were able to move our debt to a low interest credit card but we just had several companies reject us. Luckily our interest is only 10% so I know I can't be late even once or the terms will change drastically. Keep your chin up and the posts coming!

mom of 4 boys! said...

Jenn, I have read your latest blog, and I too can relate. I look forward to new entries and I can see that I am not alone!

Dawn said...

I understand full well how intimidating it is when someone you know and love reads your darkest secrets. It is scary, but it is also brave and healing. Thanks for sharing it with us. Praying for you to find peace and healing from addiction. Love you my friend (and I don't think less of you AT ALL for sharing!!!!!!!)