Hiding in Shame

As I’ve written before, recovery is a journey. It’s been nine years and I’m still learning. Rick said just last month at one of our EMS Weekends, “It’s been almost 30 years and I’m still learning.” Recovery, I believe, is a progression as we return to understanding and a sense of ‘wholeness’ after our demise. If we’re open and malleable, I believe we’ll find healing for all of our wounds we’ve encountered in life, including infidelity and even childhood.

It’s a terrible childhood memory which is my backdrop today. It certainly ties in to my approach post-infidelity but some background will serve a purpose first.

My father and mother divorced when I was about a year old after he returned from fighting in Vietnam. My father would remarry a couple times till his death when I was 25, and my mother would also remarry. The first man she married was an older man, a former professional boxer and a wonderful man, in his own right. He had served time in prison and was a survivor from the streets. He had a big heart, but didn’t always know how to express it. When I was about 8, after growing up with him around more than my biological father, he left us. I think he just couldn’t adjust to life with a son that wasn’t his and a marriage with pressures, responsibilities and expectations. Truth be told my mom wasn’t the easiest to live with either, and had been damaged herself from previous family relationships. I remember their relationship being rather toxic from an even early age.

My memory is a bit cloudy, but he came back one day when I was about 10. My mom had warned me that he would be coming back and would be coming over when I got home from school. After he left my mom started working full time and it was commonplace for me to ride my bike home from school and be there alone till she arrived about three or so hours later.  I didn’t hate him. More than anything I was confused and terrified of what to do. He had left and if I’m being honest, I think I felt like I caused at least some of it. I loved him and while he wasn’t my biological father, I think for his history and how he grew up, he really did his best.

Nevertheless, I was confused and for one of the first palpable times in my life, I remember feeling ashamed. I saw his car pull up and watched him get out. I immediately turned off the T.V. and any lights and made it seem as though I wasn’t home. I ran to my closet in our tiny house, and closed the closet doors and simply hid. It only took him a few minutes to walk through our house and try to find me. Eventually I think he was puzzled a bit and just left. I didn’t cry. I didn’t yell. I barely remember feeling anything. To this day, I can see the closet and I can feel the aloneness and complete surreal nature of the few moments I hadn’t remembered till just a couple days ago. I hid from someone who loved me and wanted to reconnect with me. I hid from a moment of possible restoration out of confusion, shame and misunderstanding. I wanted to run to him and hug him and welcome him back, but I felt paralyzed. I was in over my head emotionally and had no idea how that moment would mark me.

Looking back, when I made my horrible choices that led to infidelity, I wanted to hide in a closet of shame from everyone. Not just God, but Samantha, my friends, any and all father figures and even myself. I felt alone and wanted to hide into my own cave.

I’d like to encourage you today, both betrayed and unfaithful, to not hide today. There is nothing helpful in that closet today. There is no real comfort in that closet, but only shame and isolation which will lead you further into darkness, hopelessness and despair. There is healing for you today. You don’t need to hide from God today.

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