Tag Archives: childhood abuse

Stand Your Sacred Ground: Owning my Shame.

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Shame is all the proverbial rage now, right? Brene Brown is a household name. Everyone is conversant on shame and vulnerability. It’s trendy. And I love that Dr. Brown’s goal of creating a world-wide discussion on shame has been a success.

 

I love her work, and I applaud just about everything I read or see that sports her name. I even went to see her last year in person. It was awe-inspiring and Real and something I can cross off my bucket list. I can die happy now. She is one of my (s)heros—and I don’t have very many.

 

So I can honestly say I think it is so very wrong to try and shame someone else—or even ourselves—on purpose. I even have problems when I find I have shamed someone inadvertently, when I say or do something totally innocently that causes another person to go into a shame spiral.

 

It makes me have to do some personal soul-searching when I find out that has happened. Did I do that passive-aggressively?! Were my motives truly innocent?! WTF?!

 

And in all this soul-searching I have done–on both sides of shame, I have discovered one very important thing:  I have to own my own shame. We, as humans, have to own our own shame. We have to own our triggers and our buttons. When someone pushes our buttons—purposefully or accidentally—it is not on them to heal that shit.

 

It’s on me.

 

When someone says something to me that pushes my buttons, that triggers a PTSD flashback, that drops shame in my lap so suddenly that I am disabled in that moment, it is not on them to apologize and make it better and heal it and fix it.

 

Again, it’s on me.

 

Sure, they are definitely fucked up if they have decided shaming and triggering someone on purpose is some type of sick fun—but it is still not their circus, not their monkeys. And don’t get me wrong in any sense of the interpretation of this rant. I am never okay with shaming—no matter how it happens.

 

What I am saying:  It is time to own my shame. If someone says or does something from which I get triggered or feel shame, it is my responsibility to own that, to explore that button, that shame trigger, and heal it.

 

I don’t get to play the trendy shame victim card and blame my shit on someone else and never dive in to find out why that particular word, phrase, attitude, tone of voice, etc. pushes my buttons. They are my buttons, and I cannot expect anyone else to even know of their existence, much less try and avoid them.

 

My mission, if I choose to accept it, is to first, get myself out of shame safely. Brene Brown has an excellent shame resiliency method. Second, after I can function again, my mission is to get real and honest with myself and do some exploring to find out why I felt shame.

 

Lastly, I need to heal that button. I need to do whatever is needed and possible to heal that in me. I need to know that that time my father, in my childhood, said, “You don’t know what you are doing! Let me do it!” in a shaming voice, does not mean that every time someone says, “Let me do it,” I have to feel that same shame it originally produced.

 

I can grow. I can heal the past to stop the shame in the present and future. I can own my shame. I can own my triggers. I can heal them. And if they are not heal-able right now, they might be in the future and with more work on my part. And if I can’t heal them, even with all the healing work I can put into the problem, I can at least be aware of their presence and navigate my life accordingly.

 

What do you do after the first, hot, immediate, horrible flush of shame has passed?

 

Do you “puff up” and want to get aggressive and shame them in return as your response? Do you “shrink” and want to people-please and start apologizing? Or do you “stand your sacred ground,” and get out of the situation as quickly as possible and have a look at it later to heal yourself?

 

“Don’t shrink. Don’t puff up. Just stand your sacred ground.” ~Brene Brown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why I May Have to Break up With Santa.

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As a child, it was almost too painful to bear when I realized that no one was coming to rescue me.

I think in all the attention given to the Divine Masculine and Feminine these days, we often overlook the paternal/maternal aspects of these archetypes.

I like what Sunyata Satchitananda has to say about the King (Father) aspect of the Divine Masculine:

“His wisdom carries a transpersonal selflessness—like a kind father. He is an agent of the divine having reverence for all life. He is benevolent, evenhanded, calm, caring and thoughtfully present…”

The same aching anxiety woke me this morning. It made my chest hurt. It has been waking me earlier and earlier every morning now—it’s the same pattern every year as we approach the holidays.

As an adult, Christmas has always been a time of dread for me.

This morning when I looked at the clock, with my hand over my heart hoping to calm the frantic, heavy beat and ease the pain, it showed 3:52 a.m., and I quickly rounded up to 4:00 a.m., so as not to make the panic worse.

That’s only one hour before the alarm would go off anyway, I reassured myself.

Instead of adding more fuel to that tight, painful fire, I have learned that when I wake up like this, I do better if instead of trying to force myself back to sleep, I make a decision on how best to see it as a gift of more time.

So I sat up, adjusted the pillows and attempted to meditate. I attempted to explore, once again, and find the source of this yearly, seasonal panic. I know it is connected to the holidays—mainly to Christmas.

Being a hypnotherapist, I have traveled to and opened so many Christmas-related recesses of my own psyche that even I roll my eyes when I begin this process all over again, when I think of even more spelunking through those twisted, dark, mind caves.

In the past and in hopes of healing this issue, I have dredged up gut wrenching, Christmastime past lifetimes of being so poor that I can’t afford anything for my children—so poor that I watch my children die of starvation while I hold them close, already grieving.

The good news about all those lights turned on in all those formerly dark caves, is that I’ve done a lot of healing around the holidays. The bad news? I’m apparently not done.

santa5As I sat in bed in the dark, I tried to distract myself with good Christmas thoughts—the magic, the lights, the hope, Santa…

And that is when I suddenly understood the problem. I opened that mental door and Santa stepped through it in all of his kind, gentle, paternal energy, and I felt absolute rage and betrayal at his smiling, normally benign presence.

I felt betrayed by him. How dare he look so innocent, so loving, so fatherly?

In meditation mode already, I took my foot off the ranting throttle and attempted to coast, to simply let myself feel the pain, the loss, the rage—just observing, on some level, to see where it would take me, what it would present to me for healing. I felt, again, the devastating despair of learning he was not real.santa4

Because you see, as a child, Santa was my last hope.

Growing up an abused and neglected child, Santa represented the hope that I would one day be saved. Even as a child, I had already given up on God. All that praying had not reaped one bit of difference in my life that I could see.

But Santa was God to me—only a much more jolly, happy version.

So Santa, in his all-knowing capacity would hear me asking for rescue. I knew he would save me. I mean it was right there in the song, wasn’t it? “He sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.”

If he knew all that, then he knew I was in big trouble. He knew that I really needed his help. He knew I deserved a better life. And he delivered goodness and gifts. Surely he could deliver me from this.

As for the requisite “goodness” needed: I was good—as good as a very intelligent, quiet and creative girl-child could figure out how to be in a perverse world where the definition of that word was constantly being twisted to fit the dysfunction du jour.

“Being good” was part of the sick, crazy-making game played by the abusers. “If you’d just be good, then I wouldn’t have to do this.”

So if Santa always knew what I was thinking, then he knew I needed his help. For me he represented all that was good and normal and magical and possible.

He was Father Christmas.

I could easily slide right down into the magical, cinnamon-y, shiny, red-velvet-with-white-fuzzy-trim happiness of Christmas, the hope. I longed for a life like I imagined he could provide—firm but loving, gentle and kind.

And then came that dark, devastating, crushing time when I learned that not only would Santa not help me, he was not even real.

As I lay in the dark, trying to ignore the bright clock display across the room, I let the sense of betrayal and sadness and despair walk all over and through me again, trampling me.

It was hopeless then, final; there would be no one coming to help me.

That same crushing hopelessness I felt upon learning the truth as a child mixed with this new sense of betrayal. I had been betrayed by the archetypical Divine Masculine father figure.

You could very easily think that my problem is not with Santa/Father Christmas. And years ago I would have agreed with you. But I have done the work on my childhood and have even forgiven the abusers, have seen and grasped the bigger, cosmic design of this sad but very informative plan.

I don’t want to be around such dysfunctional people and haven’t spoken to them for years, but I am a survivor, not a victim. I have a damned good, and normally happy, life—except at Christmas time.

Later That Same Day

So now it is almost noon, and I have been awake and aware of this issue for eight hours. And I am switching tense, which as any real writer knows, is verboten. This morning I have let the emotions wash through and over me, wanting them to come up and out.

They’ve been fermenting in there for over 40 years; I don’t feel the need to hang on to them anymore.

Indeed, I’d like them to go away—not just away as in still stuck in here somewhere bumping around and bruising but buried where they can still yank me around by the proverbial nose ring, but away as in healed—done.

I’ve been through anger, sadness, loss of hope, betrayal, rage, despair—all because I feel I have lost my trust, not in men, but rather in maleness itself. And I am having particular issues with the protective, paternal type of energy.

And am I deluding myself? Have I ever had trust in maleness? Will I ever be able to look Christmas in the eye again? Will I ever be able to trust the father aspect of maleness? Or any aspect thereof?

These are the questions I am dealing with right now, as I sit and type.

I am searching for a passage inside me that leads to the place where I forgive Santa for not being real. I want to be able to forgive him for not rescuing me, a helpless child in such dire need.

Some of my favorite people are men—many of them fathers.

A Few Days Later

It’s been several days since I began writing this. I walk the talk of alternative healing in my life. I have spent those days meditating, praying, processing and ended up doing some EMDR and then also some EFT on the issue.

I have found that these tools work wonders for me.

In my quest to heal this, I have also watched several classic Christmas movies—many of them deal with father issues, I’ve noticed. I never made that connection before now.

I want to be comfortable with maleness. I want to be comfortable with the paternal aspect of maleness. More to my heart, I want to be able to love and trust maleness—of all types. I want to let go of this anger, this sense of betrayal. santa1

I will continue to do the work, the digging, which will finally, at some point, release me from this annual, holiday-induced panic. I know I can heal this, because this is what I do.

I am the bulldog in my own life, holding onto to each process, each false belief that comes up until I have shaken it to death—until it no longer holds power over me, and I can spit it out, always surprised to see it laying there so small and limp in its benign shapelessness.

I really want to believe in the magic of Christmas again, the magic and power of fathers. I don’t want to be that cynical, bitter adult who gives up on magic and trust.

I don’t want to be Scrooge.