Tag Archives: Shame

Being human…

Human
I started 2016 with high hopes. I was feeling good and felt strong. Then I spent over 2 months fighting off infections one after the next. I am normally quite healthy so to have 7 infections of various sorts in a row was very shocking. It finally ended and now I am back to my usual self. 🙂

Once I finally got better and stayed well, I decided it would be a good time to my art studio and a spare room painted. This endeavour is the only thing that really turned out since the beginning of 2016. Thank goodness for this!!!

And then April arrived.
My husband works seasonally at the only workplace available to people in our area. We live on the east coast of Newfoundland Canada and the only business here on the “north shore” is fishing. My husband worked on the wharf and the months that he spends at work are the ones that get us through the whole year. Of his 5 siblings that live here, 2 couples are retired and the other 3 all depend on the plant for their yearly income.
We were all ready to get back in to the swing of things and the crab plant was ready to run at full tilt… until it burnt down the day before everything was to really go wild for the summer. This means no work (or scrounging up a few hours wherever he can). It will devastate us financially until the plant is rebuilt in a year (best) or two (reasonable).

That alone was enough but then I found out that my hubby was sneaking smokes. I will not say a lot except to say that he has severe health issues that will only see him deteriorate with the smoking coming back in to his life. This causes me a great deal of stress because I love him and do not want to watch him to decline as he did before he quit. He almost died twice last year… it is scary.

Due to my therapist becoming a grandmother again, I did not see her for what should have been 3 weeks. It is now 4 weeks because the car broke down while trying to go see her this past Tuesday. IF next week works out, I will see her then. A full month of no therapy… seriously not at all good for my head space. 😦

The biggest issue this past week was even bigger to me because I was already so depleted and psychologically tired but that aside, I had a HUGE trigger this week that has just knocked me right over.
You may recall me speaking about my son Marcus and his death. I have not given a ton of details regarding his actual last moments except to say that they were horrific and caused by someone who should have loved him.
This week in my area (very rural – everyone knows everyone). A 5 year old girl was murdered by her father and then he set his house on fire to cover the crime. It is damn close to exactly what happened to Marcus and I have found this whole week triggering in a way that I have rarely been tested before.
The father had been charged with domestic violence 3 times yet the court dismissed the charges each time. Due to the fact that he had no record, he was given shared custody.
The mom did what she could to be heard but no one would listen.
And now her child is dead.
Trigger, trigger, trigger…

To add to those triggers, I was privately discussing the loss of Marcus when one of my Monster/mother’s friends interrupted to call me a liar. That just pi$$ed me right off and being seen as a liar is probably my biggest trigger. I know she is misinformed but it still sent me spiralling downhill at an even quicker speed.

These are the reasons why I was so quiet last week. I was just feeling so anxious, depressed, and triggered. I wanted to drink or just be done with this world and although I did neither one, the thoughts alone scare me plenty. I do not like it when these options begin to look like reasonable responses to the issues in my life.

I have also been feeling so very alone. In reality, I am not alone. I have my blog which is always a source of comfort in hard times, I have wonderful friends, I know good coping strategies now and life when I am more stable, looks really good.
Sadly none of this seems to be enough when things get really bad. I just feel terribly alone. I feel unlikable, unlovable, unworthy, and untrustworthy. I feel terribly unimportant. I do realize that my mind is playing tricks on me but it doesn’t seem to really matter in the moment.

Now the rebuilding begins. Self care, self-care and more self-care.  I have the skills to find my way out of this and I have supports to turn to but it is the actual action of doing it when my energy is so depleted.

I don’t write this to make you worry or feel badly for me. I write it because I can so often come across like I have everything together, that I am calm, capable and have my biggest storms behind me.
The truth? I have weathered many storms, I have managed to make huge changes in my life and I am proud of my accomplishments.
Some days really just “bite the big one” though and I am quickly reminded that I am human. Fallible, occasionally weak, messed up, and confused. So totally human.

My story.

Girl

It was suggested to me by a long time reader that allowing my story to be told might help reach others. I have hesitated doing this is the past because I just felt the details were not really important. That said? I do agree with this reader and have decided to share some of my story (minus the nitty-gritty) with you today. I do hope it helps you understand me better and I hope it reaches some of you so that you know that you are not alone in this fight for your survival.
I am going to leave my siblings out of this story because I do not feel it is fair to assume how they felt or what they went through personally. If there is a day that the ones still living wish to share with you? I’d happily post it.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a princess.
Scratch that. This is no fairy tale. 😉

I was born at the beginning of 1970 in a winter storm. A fitting beginning for the life that would follow. A winter storm of sorts that lasted decades.
I was born to a family that was quite wealthy and had every available support to raise a child as easily as possible. From other family members, I have been told about how my father was thrilled by my birth but my mother hated me from day one. Probably long before day one in reality. I am sure she viewed her pregnancy as a real inconvenience.

My beginning could have been a good one but right from the very start of my life here on this earth, my mother would begin making choices that would seal my fate and my father would not do anything to stop her.
Their first decision? My name.
Heather was the name of a girl whom my father and mother hated. She’d chased my father around and my mother hated her for it. This is the person whom I was named after. Someone they hated.

I have a few memories of my early childhood but none are good. From 0-4, all I recall is being afraid. Many years ago my grandmothers both told me stories of how I was left in filth and ignored while my father was at work. I was also told that I would scream and beg others to take me with them as they left our house or begged babysitters to keep me. That is just not normal behaviour for a young child. Wanting to leave with anyone rather than staying home with their mother.

Starting at age 4, I was given a gift of new underwear for my birthday. Not the best gift for a 4-year-old but they were a tiny hint as to what that birthday would mean. I would be sold to men who liked little girls and my hair was cut so short that I also looked like a boy and could satisfy men who liked boys as well. This was not a rare occurrence. It was done as often as there was demand and there was ALWAYS a demand.

It was also around this time that I learned to mistrust what people said vs. what they actually did. My mother could be the sweetest, kindest, most gregarious person to anyone on the outside but then a monster behind closed doors. It was her perfect “outside face” that allowed others to believe that she was trying her best but that I was a child with some real issues. She convinced therapists, social workers, a child psychiatrist, doctors, teachers and strangers that the problem was set squarely on my own shoulders. I was the one who hurt myself and then lied with crazy stories to cover it all up. This lasted for my entire life with her. It still goes on to this day! She is perfect while I have mental illnesses.

There was a lot of sexual and physical abuse but even worse than that was the sadistic nature of the emotional abuse. I was made to believe that I was only sold to men (and some women) because I liked it and caused it to happen. If there were bruises or broken bones? I had obviously done something to deserve that. If I got ill. that was my fault too. That woman (my mother) made sure that my self-esteem was now only low but non-existent. I felt less than human and not truly worthy of any kindness. This is the part of her abuse that is the hardest to get over or heal from. I feel like I am worthy and then someone talks about me or doesn’t like me and I am plunged deeply right back in to feeling absolutely worthless. My brain knows that I am a good person, that I give a lot of myself to helping others, that I am smart, and have a lot going for me but my heart still says “You don’t deserve any of it and you are just as worthless as you always were”.

I did try to speak out and I tried to reach for help but these efforts were always met with my mothers wrath. I recall being made to eat a “poop” hot-dog in a bun. If I was going to spread “filthy lies”, I was going to eat filth as well. After a certain number of times where I reached out to ask for help and having that come back at me with a vengeance, I gave up. I still find it hard today to speak up about it because my automatic feeling that accompanies this openness is fear.

There are so many details and situations that I could discuss but I am sure you get the idea by now? It wasn’t just a hard life. It was a life filled with monsters that never hid under my bed. They just stayed out in the open and did as they wished with me as often as they wished it. I many ways this abuse started before I was born and still continues today. 46 years of situations and stories that would make your blood curdle.
If you read my list of Helpers from last week, there are a few more details of which Helpers came in to being and when/why.

I wish I could say that I grew up, moved away and never had to deal with my mother again but I moved 3,500kms to get away from her and 2 months later, she was living 1km down the street from me in her newly purchased home.
I have not spoken to her in over 11 years yet she still speaks about me in public to anyone who will lend her an ear. She tells them lies and makes me look horrible. We live in a very small community and there are many people who have never even met me whom hate me with passion. I’ve been called a liar, a bitch, a whore, a selfish daughter and worse by these people who just believe the words my mother shares. Supposed grownups and mostly “church friends” of my mothers. I really try hard not to let it bother me but she has even gotten to my own children and 2 of my husbands extended family members. The words said under hushed breaths make me want to just run away again and never look back… or just give up and leave this world altogether. It is hard not to taint the good that I have created in my life with that poison. I am only human. It is hard to be hated and even harder to be hated for something you never were.

Sadly it is not only my monster/mother that drags me down like this. My father takes part as well. He is quieter about it but when discussions of how my brother abused me surfaced, it was his voice on the other end of the phone calling me a sociopath. In my heart I know that he believes every word and knows the truth but he is unwilling to face it and it seems that hurting me instead is acceptable to him. I recently cut off all contact with him and I know it was necessary for my future mental health but I feel like a 46 years old orphan who never knew what it was like to have a mom or dad.

I’ve felt very lonely lately. I miss those whom have loved and seen die by suicide due to their PTSD. I ache for my murdered son. My heart has cement poured all over it while my living children find their way home. I really miss the nurse I felt close to while in hospital and the doctor whom I got to know before his sabbatical. Now my current therapist is retiring in a couple of months and I must say goodbye to her as well. I know these supports are not meant to be lifelong friendships and I am good with that but it doesn’t make missing them any easier. These people got me, they understood me, They believed me and truly heard me. They made me a better person. I am just tired and I am trying to find and keep my spark. I will find it again. I have faith in that.

I’ve had some comments about how I do not share negative stories on my blog but I feel that my intentions are perhaps a bit misunderstood. I do not keep things positive because I want people to think life is just all great and I am flying high. I keep it positive because I have dealt with and still deal with more negative in the run of a day that some people experience in a lifetime. By remaining positive myself, I feel like I am adding to the good in the world and that somehow negates some of the bad. It takes a lot of effort on a daily basis to live a good and positive life but I almost always feel that it is worth the effort.

This blog is very important to me. YOU are important to me. When someone says that they heard what they needed to hear or got what they needed to get because of a blog I wrote, it helps me add to the balance of positive in my life. Thank you for that.

If there is more you wish to know, just ask. If it is too personal to be on the blog, I will respond with a private email.
All the best to each of you. ❤

Kind Words CopyHand drawn by Heather. For sale. $20
Buy an 8×10 “Be Gentle”

My Shame Story

I wrote a blog about guilt and shame almost 2 weeks ago. I have since realized that what I really discussed was guilt and not shame. I had them balled up together like they were one entity. I still think the blog was a good one and gave a lot of suggestions for easing guilt. I just need to go back and change the title to “Guilt” and take “Shame” out of there.

Since I didn’t know the difference (but thought that I did), I will explain it as I understand it so far. 🙂
Guilt is something that you can start feeling at about the age of 3 when you are able to do something and feel badly about it or someone else can make you feel badly for doing something wrong. We do not always own the guilt that is given to us but we are able to feel guilt at that point.
Guilt now seems to me to be the easier of the two to deal with. With a big dose of self compassion, quite often a good therapist or life experiences, we can learn that what we did or was done to us at various ages was either not our fault or it is forgivable.

My guilt was trauma based. I did not yell loud enough, run fast enough, tell enough people, force doctors or social workers to pay attention, run screaming to a teacher… the list is endless but you get the idea.
I have learned that I am in no way responsible for anything that happened to me no matter what anyone says to the contrary.

Guilt is also the culprit when we use words like could or should. I should have known better. I could have been smarter. I should have remained silent. When you look back and feel badly about how you’ve behaved or something you’ve said. That is guilt.

Shame… oh that sneaky snake of an emotion.
Shame begins at birth. Before we are even verbal. Shame is taught to us. Shame is the lesson or lessons that tell us who we are. Have you ever heard someone say “I don’t know why I was even born”? Perhaps you are the one who has said it or thought it? There is a reason it is said. A shame story was put on them in some way in the earliest days of their lives. Mom or Dad may say or feel “I don’t know why on earth I had this baby” or put blame on the baby for restrictions caused by parenthood. A baby can pick that up and it becomes shame story that he or she can feel for the rest of their lives. There are often no obvious words for our shame. We just feel it.
Shame is a cruel gift. Parents or caregivers often think that a pre-verbal child is too young to understand but they are very wrong. Seeds are planted and those seeds will become beautiful flowers if they are kind and gentle but they can also become weeds that are almost impossible to get rid of when the words are unkind or uncaring.

Shame is also the messages that we all pick up throughout our lives. If the base of the person is already damaged, shame given by the world around us is also too easily absorbed.
An example:
A child with a good base. A positive beginning can get called stupid because he or she made a mistake and they will often reply with “I am NOT stupid!” They may even run to a trusted adult to tattle on this mean person who called them stupid. How dare they!
A child with a shakier base, a more negative beginning may be called stupid and rather than fight it, they can absorb it. “I probably am stupid.”
Sadly, it is really easy to add to a shame story once it has begun.

Sent in by a reader…
Non-verbal shaming is perhaps the most insidious (as spoken of in the Dr. George Simon quote). You can argue with words but how do you argue with a sneer, a tone of voice, a look in the eyes?

Guilt is external and more easily verbalized “I did something wrong”.
Shame is very difficult to verbalize. “I am wrong.” There is something wrong with me as a person. I am not as worthy as others. I am not good enough in a very deep-seated way.

For me, shame presents itself first in the form of this thought.
“If anyone ever REALLY knew me, they would realize how worthless/horrible/stupid/_____ I really am.”
I have a very deep fear of being outed as a liar and assume I need to hide this trait… even though that trait does not exist in me. I was taught that lesson from my earliest moments in my life and still believe it to this day despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. My husband and good friends have actually said that I don’t lie even when I should. I can be a tad “direct”.
I feel less than… less than everyone else. Everyone comes above me. It takes a great deal of strength and practice to say no without feeling badly or for putting my needs on the chart. At all. Ever. I am working on that one.
I feel unlikable. While others assume that I am happy, chatty and comfortable, I always leave with the feeling that I have likely done something to turn them off of me.

The really tricky thing about shame is that you can KNOW none of this is true but these messages of worthlessness are far more deeply planted than rational thought.

The good news… you KNOW I have to end off with good news right? 😉
I feel that once we have found our shame and find a way to put a name on it, we can start to really question these beliefs. I do not for one second believe that I am suddenly going to get over all my shame filled thoughts just because I finally figured out what they were. It will take time and a lot of positive reinforcement from those who know me telling me what they see in me. Not buttering me up but truthful statements that I know people say to me already. I just have to put more effort in to believing them.

So… I hope you will answer these questions for me silently in your own head. You do not need to admit them to anyone. They are for you only.
Are you worthless?
Are you useless?
Are you deeply and irreparably faulted?
Are you stupid?
Are you selfish or thoughtless?
Are you a liar?
Are you a waste of space?
Are you ugly?
Are you a misfit?
Are you slow?

Now, take a moment to ask yourself this one last question.
Who just answered? You or shame?

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Shame

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