Fighting Shame

I think one of the cruelest feelings an already wounded and betrayed heart can experience is shame. Shame has an incredible ability to cripple even the strongest of us. Looking back, I can see how I was very kindly shielded from a large portion of it early on. Starting about two days after I discovered my husband Wayne’s infidelities, several discerning and godly men told me that his actions outside of our marriage had nothing to do with me. I think they actually went out of their way several times during those first few weeks after discovery to reiterate the fact that I had not caused Wayne to ‘act out.’ I am still very grateful to them for standing in the gap for me during that time.

As comforting as it was to have them speak that truth to me, I suspect the biggest canopy of protection against shame that I had over me was from Wayne himself. He never once pointed a blaming finger in my direction. He always took full responsibility for his actions.

Even with all that though, I was not completely protected from shame‘s ugly attacks. I remember very vividly having to go to our family practice doctor for a HIV test. When my doctor walked in he said “We are not here because of you are we?” I shook my head and looked down. Even after affirming with me that I had not caused the need for the test I still cried through the physical part of the exam. Something about it just felt completely shameful.

I later chose to do the six month follow up test with my OB, thinking it would be easier. Sadly, this was not the case. My story of why I needed the STD test must have stepped on one her own unhealed wounds, because she gave me a lecture and a half on the foolishness of staying with my husband. I was in such a hysterical, snotty, can’t-catch-my-breath kind of cry by the time I got downstairs for the lab portion of the test that I couldn’t even speak to tell the tech my name. I just held up the paper I had been given to bring down with me. On it was my name and the test they were supposed to draw blood for. When she looked down at the paper, then back at me I felt a big wave of shame roll over me. I imagined that she had all the possible scenarios rolling through her head as to why I would be needing that test. Feeling overwhelmed, I just turned around and escaped into the nearest restroom until my buzzer lit up, letting me know it was my turn to go back for the blood draw.

When I got home I had a big battle with shame. It started out with me lying flat down in the floor of my closet crying my poor little heart out. At this point it wasn’t the hysterical messy cry that it had been at the appointment, it was just the ‘I am hurting, and I am tired of it’ cry. I felt my Healer sitting with me, and after a while He gently whispered to my heart to ‘get up and fight.’ And fight I did! Thankfully, no one else was home because being alone gave me the freedom to sit up and shout! First I shouted the truth that I did not cause my husband to betray me, then I shouted that I do have hope for our future. After that I got out my index cards that held words of truth which I had already prepared for moments like this and spoke the words I had written on them out loud until I felt the weight of shame lift from my heart.

I can’t say I never felt shame after that, but I can say that fighting it wasn’t ever the big battle that it had been on that day because from then on I knew to be on guard against it. So whenever I began to feel even the smallest inkling of shame creep up on me, I was ready with my little spiral index card ‘sword’ and fought it off within a few minutes.

Dear reader, please don’t let shame weigh you down. You’re in the middle of fighting to win back your heart in the healthy and whole condition it was designed to flourish in. Shame’s arrows are a counter attack from the enemy of your heart. They are designed to pin you to the ground where you will be powerless to stand and fight. Shake off his arrows and win!

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Oh Dana, I have so much shame. It is my constant companion. It has been almost 2 years and the shame covers me like a straight jacket. I went through the first HIV test at he public health dept. because my insurance won't pay for it. I found that out by going to my GP first. So double shame there. So much that I took the health dept. answer that I didn't need a follow up test. Then there is the shame of me. You know, if I hadn't let his PTSD depression and the behavior that came with it get to me I wouldn't have withdrawn. I would have been available. He wouldn't have turned to her. Then there is the "I let my own depression eat me alive while I ate to deal with it. So, now I'm very over weight and she's so skinny. I'm also not aging so gracefully yet she is very pretty. Why does he want me now that he has had her?" Shame? I have loads of it and my mirror is my own worst enemy.

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