First of all, thank you so much for your support of me talking about these things that are so personal and private. I almost took down the post last night, but then remembered something I have told many of my clients: We are as sick as our secrets. So for now I will continue to write.
Shame. When I think about shame I know the very first time I felt ashamed. I was 3 years old and I had just split my chin wide open. We were at my cousins house and my brother, my cousin and I were playing in the basement. They were pushing me on this tricycle and it flipped over and I hit my chin on the concrete floor. The next thing I know I am walking around the house holding my bloody chin looking for my parents. I remember thinking that it wasn't that big of a deal and I felt bad that I was bleeding all over the place and I was afraid to show my parents what had happened. It makes me sad to think that at such a young age I was feeling like I didn't want to be a burden to anyone.
I was never taught to love myself. My Mother had very low self-esteem through most of my childhood. There were many times when I would have to comfort her because she was so upset. I remember one time in particular where I was ten and I tried to comfort my Mom when she was crying and she snapped at me because I didn't say the right thing. It's no secret that my brother was a very difficult child. He was always causing problems for my parents and I know he has some serious mental health issues. Anyway, back to my story. My Mom and I were sitting in the driveway getting ready to drive to Minnesota to pick up my Dad's Mom who was having some serious health issues. My Mom was crying because as usual my brother started some crap with her as we were getting ready to leave. She sat crying saying she was so upset because she didn't want to leave my brother while he was so upset. I put my hand on her arm and told her that he would be OK. She snapped at me and said, "you don't know what you are talking about". I was upset because here was my Mom who was so upset and I couldn't do anything to help her. I was ashamed with myself.
Around the same age (10) my brother started sexually abusing me. His abuse continued until I was 12. I remember thinking that I must have done something wrong for him to be doing this to me. He told me that if I told my parents they would not believe me and would probably make me leave the house. I believed what he told me, so I didn't say anything.
When the abuse was happening I became very attached to our dogs and one in particular; Shaggs. I always had to know where she was and that she was OK. Then one day I did something that I still don't understand. Our house was three floors and when you were on the 3rd floor you could look down the stairs to the first floor. I was on the third floor and I picked Shaggs up and threw her over the edge. She fell all the way to the first floor. My parents freaked out!!! They started yelling at me asking why I would do such a thing. To this day I hate the fact that I did that to Shaggs and will probably carry the guilt for the rest of my life. Thankfully Shaggs was not hurt at all. I really don't know how she wasn't hurt because it was a big fall from the third floor. To me, that was an obvious sign that there was something going on, but my parents ignored it. You have no idea how ashamed I was that I did that to the one thing that loved me unconditionally.
Of course I think part of my shame comes from the sexual abuse I suffered from, but I am always wondering why when I was 3 I was already feeling shame. Shame is a lot like weight: it's really easy to be ashamed, but to rid yourself of shame takes so much time and work.
Last night and the first part of today I was feeling ashamed about my post from last night. It was a crazy day (what day isn't anymore) at work and I didn't have a chance to read your comments until late in the day. I will say that your loving comments made me feel like it's OK that I share this with you guys. I need to get used to sharing more and realizing that I have done nothing to be ashamed of and more importantly that I am not alone.
Now that it feels safe to share, there is so much I am wanting to get out. I hope you guys are up for the ride.
....to be continued