When Shame Has the Last Word Shame. I hate the word. I hate the feeling. I am guessing for most of you reading this, you have more than a vague idea of what this word does to a human being and how it can be one of the most destructive forces on the planet. I am so tired of shame. Sure, I can sit here and look back on my life and the things that happened before I had a choice in the matter. Reflect on the things that helped shape my heart into a giant bucket of shame. But the reality is I took shame, let it have authority over me, and ran with it most of my life. Shame can have many definitions and I'm certain it can have different faces for different people. For me, it has mostly felt like a pit in the deepest parts of my heart (and more tangibly my stomach and my throat) that something is very wrong with me and I am deeply inadequate. As early as I can remember, I have had this feeling. To compensate for shame, I would try harder. I would find a way to outperform it, outrun it, or at least cover it up so no one would see it. In an attempt to outrun shame I became the smartest, nicest, most entertaining, funniest, best, most outgoing, and winningest shell of a person that ever existed. I was determined to be successful at everything. I would become everyone's friend. I would never disappoint anyone if I could help it. I would seek approval everywhere. Just take a look at my high school year book. It screams of a girl who sought affirmation everywhere. Unfortunately my mentality also impacted my spouse. My husband could never be enough. I mirrored in him my unattainable quest for perfection. I had no idea what intimacy was and destroyed our marriage by not only making it all about me, but seeking all the wrong things in all the wrong places. A truth that continues to open my eyes is how self-absorbing shame can be. Rick teaches how shame and pride are both a far cry from the place of humility and confidence that God longs for us to find. Shame is always there, always waiting to devour and pounce. Just today, as I looked on the Affair Recovery website for encouragement, shame crept in. It whispered rather loudly, "You are an unfaithful woman. You are the minority. Stay silent. Don't speak out or say anything. It won't be enough and you won't be understood. Stay in the shadows because nothing you say will be believed. You have no right to say anything because of what you've done." I remember reading a study on how authorities recognize counterfeit dollar bills. It does not happen by studying all of the counterfeits. Instead, they study the real thing. Day after day, they continue to study an authentic dollar bill. They become so familiar with the real thing, it helps them recognize when it's fake. The same applies to shame. Focusing on the truth helps counteract shame. I am not smart enough to find truth on my own, which is why I find God's word and truth so helpful. I have found it to be the best place to start unraveling the many lies shame speaks. And by studying the real thing, I am slowly learning to see what counterfeits sound and look like. If you are struggling with shame today, please know you aren't alone. In the darkest days of recovery, I desperately wanted to curl up in a ball and cry out that I deserve nothing more than a life of misery and self-hatred from the choices I made. Not only does that not offer help to anyone but just hear the overwhelming selfishness of that statement! Only when I can look up, reach out, and come outside of that dark place can I begin to see my husband. Consider his feelings. Be curious about what this has been like for him. Possibly offer him some much needed hope or encouragement, even if it is as small as: "I see you." "I am not giving up." "I am sorry that my own shame has caused such abandonment for you." I am fighting shame. One of the best ways I have found to combat shame is to enter into one of the Affair Recovery online small groups. For me, it was Hope for Healing. I discovered I wasn't alone in any of these feelings but I desperately need help learning how to fight them and not act out of destructive feelings. And tangibly, when others can know every dark and ugly thing about me and still find me worthy, I strangely start to see myself differently. Furthermore, they help provide accountability for helping identify when I want to spiral into shame and negativity. I hate shame. And rightfully so. God hates it too.