Shortly after I found out about my husband’s life-long secret porn addiction I attended a women's conference where much to my surprise they talked about this very subject. It was there in an arena of 10,000 women the Truth began to embed itself into my heart. There is a profound difference between this band of thieves. Guilt says that you did something wrong. Shame on the other hand says that you are something wrong. There it was in one simple thought.... it explained everything that I had been feeling. The knowledge of husband's addiction wrought my heart with great shame. It felt like a constant attack of shame-filled thoughts one after the next: If I had done more to please him, If I was prettier, If I was thinner, If I was more adventurous, If . . . If . . . If . . . Then came the other side, What will people think about me? The assumptions that I imagined people to make about me . . . Well, she must not be good enough in bed . . . Maybe she doesn't have sex with him enough . . . Obviously she doesn't fulfill him. Quite simply, Shame is undaunted in telling you that you're not good enough.
Isn't that the crux of betrayal trauma --feeling not good enough or the on-going mental conversations of, "this wouldn't have happened if . . . ?" As a former women's ministry director I have seen these diminished feelings of self-worth over and over again in the lives of women at all ages and stages of life. It knows no boundaries and crosses all barriers of race, culture, or socio-economic background. I personally know it all too well. Feelings of inadequacy are something that I struggle with daily. The knowledge of my spouse’s addiction only further catapulted me into those dark corners of shame and accusation. Understand though that those ever-present voices of, "if you just . . ." and "you're not (blank) enough" are the opposite of living in Freedom. Those accusations are not Truth.
Daily, I have to choose to trade the chaos of what I feel for the knowledge of who I am. There's no quicker way to stop healing than to be lost in the lies of shame. Shame keeps us alone. Shame builds walls in relationships and fights against authentic vulnerability. Shame tell us to hide our scars and condemns us in our spirit pushing us further and further away from Truth and healing. Shame keeps us hidden, hurting and silent. I remember very clearly being in a big mom's group at my church when my three children were just tiny. Conversations were swirling about all the normal stuff like potty training, sleepless nights, a good day being one with a shower . . . all the while smiling, laughing, and pretending. On the inside I remember thinking, If you only knew . . . If I could only tell you . . . If you wouldn't judge . . . If I wasn't afraid to let to go of the image . . .If I wasn't so filled with shame. You are NOT something wrong and neither am I. Some days I recall that truth better than others, but it doesn't make it any less real. In Matthew 11:28-30 the Lord says, "Come as you are . . ." that friends is what Togetherness is all about.
We are the hurting, the broken, women who have been made to believe lies about ourselves that rob us of Truth. As I heal on this journey with other women just like you I am thankful for the reminders given by those who walk with me that I am designed to be more than a conqueror. During this month of Love I encourage you to know that shame has no place in your life. As I daily remind myself may you also be encouraged that in our Togetherness out of the ashes of our heartbreak beauty will rise. One day at a time, one squelched out shame-filled thought destroyed after the next, by allowing one small moment of trust in ourselves again and in others, each day we will begin to claim and cling to the truth of who we are. We are women who together, are "clothed with strength and dignity, (who) laugh without fear of the future" Prov. 31:25. My life has been turned upside down and inside out. It has taken sharp turns that I never envisioned or planned for. My guess is that much of the same may be true in your life. Know the Truth with me that no matter how life tries to shake you, shame you or shock you Love will do the same: making all things new (Rev. 21:5) and beautiful in His time (Ecc. 3:11).
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Contributed by guest blogger D