Shame that’s hidden from view is still shame that holds us back.
Mainly from love – giving and receiving.
We’ve all done things we’re ashamed of right?
Cast your mind back to childhood and I’m sure you’ll find something – a lie, a theft, a blurted nasty comment, classroom cheating, betrayal of a friend….
Ringing any bells?
More than twenty years ago I betrayed the man I had made marriage vows with not much more than a year earlier.
I left him for someone else.
I knew then as I know now, it was for the best.
I still hated myself for the pain I caused. I wished it could have been different – sort of.
It was exactly what it was and maybe the only way it could have been after nine years of familiarity and habit.
It did it because I’d been thrown a lifeline and I wanted to live – gawd that sounds dramatic. I wasn’t in any physical danger. It was just that I felt like I was sinking.
It wasn’t his fault. We’d just created something that wasn’t very happy. The dynamic was all wrong and I suddenly saw it for what it had become; we were like brother and sister.
I wanted more and I felt trapped with what we were capable of. I began to harden up, toughen my outlook. I set my jaw and steeled my gaze.
I guess I thought I could manage it okay if I changed myself enough. I held my breath.
And then I saw him at the party. My husband was outside chatting with someone. I walked inside and there sitting with an empty chair beside him, was a person I’d always wondered about.
I sat down and before I knew it I’d said, “I still have feelings for you.”
“But you’re married”, he said. “I was at your wedding”, he said.
We both leaned forward, heads in our hands and smiled silly, hopeless sort of smiles.
Weeks went by and I told myself that was that. Nothing could happen.
Coincidentally, he worked at the university where I was studying. We met up a few times in the campus grounds after my lectures. Sat on hard benches and talked as the sun went down.
I persisted that it was pointless as I wasn’t about to leave my marriage. I said, I couldn’t bear to go through that.
He gently said, “You wouldn’t be sitting here talking to me if you were happy.”
Then a few weeks later he flew to England for a planned six month stay.
Just before he left, my husband worked out something was up.
One week later I moved out.
Life went on. I kept studying and working, friends chose camps, my parents were very supportive, I never saw my in-laws again.
It wasn’t easy but I had this little voice inside that I’d ignored years earlier when I was confused about love. It whispered; stay strong, keep going, this is temporary, you’re doing fine.
My new flame came home and we moved in together. Four years later we got married. You know the rest….kids, jobs, studies, homes, holidays, change, challenges, a move to the country and suddenly we’re middle-aged.
Up until last week I thought I was over this part of my story. I’d done the counselling, read the books, been healed by experts, become a healer myself, gotten it all straight in my mind and reached a level of peace about it.
But in truth I’m still holding it against myself. I’m still ashamed of what I did and only I can resolve that. And resolve it I will because what I’ve realised is that this shame is stopping me from having the quality and depth of love I want in my relationship with not only my husband but with all the important people in my life.
So how? This is what I feel:
- Put my hands on my heart and love myself a little more
- Feel into my soul, trust in the wisdom I followed and know that it was my best choice at the time
- Grow into stronger compassion for the 24 year-old me who was simply saving herself
- Give thanks to the universe for giving me the courage to step forward onto that new path and risk losing everyone’s love in the process.
All these old fragmented, hidden parts of ourselves don’t really need to be released or healed….they need to be integrated into the wondrous, complex and multi-faceted beings that we are.
We don’t need to continually make ourselves wrong or flawed or broken. We’re all the villain and the victim. We’re all innocent and all guilty. We are all deserving of love no matter what.