Growing up in a home where secrets were a way of life, I value the truth more than anything. I would rather hear and speak the ugly truth than hear or tell a colorful, well formed lie. I realize that much of my life was shaped by lies. Not ones that were necessarily spoken but unspoken truths that shaped the way I thought, shared, and felt.
Although I grew up in a home that pointed me to Christ (See Grateful), I did not grow up in a home that was nurturing. I did not grow up in a home where expression of feelings was appreciated, acknowledged, or affirmed. This led to me feeling that sharing my emotions was unimportant. Couple it with the truth that most people ask “How are you doing?” but don’t really care to hear the answer, and growing up hearing “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.”, one can imagine the unexplored emotions that are pent up inside.
I did not plan to share this, but it is the truth, and I know the Word says “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” As I mentioned before, I am seeking freedom. I know that God has more for me, and hiding from my childhood emotions and how that has shaped my life is not helping me. Over the past week, I have been working on lesson three of Making Peace with your Past by Tim Sledge. It is about shame.
As I worked through the week’s lessons, I really did not feel like shame was part of my identity. I was young enough when my father went to jail that I did not understand what he did. I wasn’t ashamed of it, because I didn’t do anything. I had no problem talking about the situation, because I really did not understand it. It was not something I broadcast, I was taught good boundaries, but I didn’t identify with it. But that didn’t mean I didn’t feel shame.
What I did feel shame about was that I was not involved in the things my friends were, normal things for kids like Girl Scouts, cheer leading, sports. I was active in church, and for a while I played the flute in the band and was in color guard with flags in early junior high. I also didn’t have the designer clothes that my friends wore. I didn’t do a lot of the extras that my friends did like movies, skating, bowling, etc.
The more I identified with this shame growing up, the more I developed a rebellious attitude. I was kicked out of band in 8th grade. I was told if I forget my instrument one more time I would not be in the class. I intentionally left it in my locker. Almost overnight I went from hanging out with the good kids, to hanging out with mostly people my parents would never lay eyes on, ever.
I started doing things that were not okay. I can remember telling my friends “I would never smoke,” even as they were doing it. Then I started smoking. I would lie to the cashiers at the store and say that my mom couldn’t come in to the store, that I would never smoke. They always sold them to me even though I was barely even a teenager. Then I started drinking. I was twelve the first time I got drunk. I started running around town on weekends. I would again lie, telling people that I was much older, just under the legal age to get them to buy alcohol for me. Soon I was drinking daily at school. I was a bully. I took advantage of my weaker friends making them bring me alcohol, because we didn’t have that at my house.
Then I got introduced to pot. Again, for a long time I was like ‘I am never doing that’. I had a lot of contact highs as people would do their best to get me to smoke it or try to get me high, but I refused. For over a year, I said “no.” Then one day, in a truck with a friend and her cousin, it was dark and I thought ‘what the heck.’ I lost one of my best friends that day. She thought I did something that I had not. I ended up at my sister’s house with a black eye, completely intoxicated, and high.
I developed a very bad reputation. I acted like I didn’t care, but I did. People said atrocious things about me that were not even true. Since they were going to talk, I just fueled the fire with rebellious words. Even teachers joined in the comments. I eventually put myself in a situation that I couldn’t get out of, I was raped. His threats kept me quiet for a little bit. I remember him driving me home, and how dirty I felt in my jeans and over-sized pink button down paisley shirt. It took me a long time to piece together why I hated paisley and the color pink. I felt shame knowing I should not have put myself in the situation. Shame that I could not tell my parents.
I confronted him on more than one occasion in public. Eventually I had the courage to tell some of my male friends. He was beat up pretty bad. Then within a couple weeks, I told my school counselor. She told me “It was my fault.” More shame. Eventually I decided that if classmates and teachers were going to think it about me, I might as well live it out. I loved the attention I could get from guys, especially older ones. Not to mention, they would also buy the alcohol, and eventually supply the pot and pills.
I lived that life for over four years. I knew that it was wrong. Every part of my spirit cried out for me to stop. I came home at all hours of the morning. I went to work, with my mother, having a hang over almost ever weekend. I would skip school and write my own note. I missed 42 days of school in my freshman year. I found out I was pregnant the last month of my sophomore year. Even my father’s response “Is it Tom, Dick or Harry’s” when I told him was shameful. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind who my daughter’s father was. She was for all intentional purposes planned, even if things didn’t end up as planned.
I was just a distraction in my family, never once did anyone in my family try to see what the heck was going on with me. The truth is, I was crying out for attention. I felt rejected and like a distraction at home. I used to say my parents were too wore out from my siblings by the time I came along. The truth is they were too busy working and doing their own thing to be bothered with me. Their coping mechanism for the problems in our family helped me feed my shame.
My life calmed a little when I had my daughter. I would never put her in danger, and although my parents would watch her, it limited my partying behaviors. Then my attention, stayed between two guys – her father and my now husband. I got back in to church, where I had avoided from twelve or thirteen to seventeen. I lived a double life for several years, one way in church, another on the weekends. Just another habit to add to my feelings of shame.
Honestly, it wasn’t until I saw the hurt in my now husband’s eyes that I could see how hurtful my destructive patterns were. Of course, that did lead to more shame. However, it was the first time I was ashamed of my actions. I can still see that hurt look in his eyes. But now, when I think about it, I see the compassion of Christ. Yes, I hurt him with my actions, be he still loved me. Just as Christ still loves me. He loved me. He wanted something better for me. He hated seeing what I was doing to myself.
At that point, I didn’t know how to change. I loved attention. I loved more attention than just one person could give me. So I turned to the one thing that my family always could gather on as I was growing up, Food. I stopped my destructive tendencies, and I replaced it with food. Food was always there for me. The more I ate, the less active I became, and the less people paid attention to me.
I traded everything I did for food. When I wanted to smoke, I ate. When I would have been drinking or getting high, I ate. My life centered around the next meal, the next snack. When I was eating I would plan for the next thing I would eat. If I was happy I celebrated with food. If I was mad, sad, or scared, I let food comfort me. I found my control in food.
Then one day I woke up, several years later, no longer recognizing the girl in the picture. I was no longer the girl who couldn’t control herself. God had taught me about healthy relationships and real love. He filled the void. He healed my heart. He wanted to comfort me. But now I was the girl who couldn’t control food. I found that what I had allowed to control me had taken the freedom that I was eating to have.
I know that the God that lives in me is greater. He is able to carry me through. I don’t need to turn to food, men, alcohol or drugs. I need to turn to Him. He loves me. He wants me to succeed. He wants my marriage to succeed. He wants me to be healthy – body, soul, mind, and spirit. He died, not so that I could eat freely, but so that I could live freely.
I know that I do not have to allow the enemy to use things spoke over me, thoughts I had, or even things I did to stop me. I am covered in the blood of Christ, and Satan is overcome. I do not have to be disgraced, or put to shame. God has forgiven me. I know that the unhealthy lifestyle I have lived can be overcome, because through Christ I can do all things. It is not just my journey, it is His journey through me. This is just one truth of my testimony.
Revelations 12:10-11 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.
Isaiah 54:4 Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame;For you will forget the shame of your youth
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
This blog is prompted from Tuesday at Ten! The Tuesday blog Link up where you have 1 full week to use the prompt word to your liking! Whether it be just writing a story behind the prompt word, or being as creative as you wish using photos, poems, art, or graphics – whichever creative way you choose. You have 1 week to write and link up your blog at the bottom of the page so that others can link up with you. Be sure to visit your “link up” neighbor and spread the joy of connection!