Photo by Geoff Duncan
An ugly emotion surfaced in my life––shame. I couldn't look people in the eye, something I had always been able to do. I could usually stare down the diehards and never flinch, but I felt exposed and humiliated.
Somehow they knew. A little girl felt pleasure, she did not understand and pain she could not comprehend at the hands of her abuser. I felt disgusted with myself, and I was to blame for what happened. Thoughts swirled in my mind, I'm a bad person. I am ashamed of who I am.
At that time, I saw a therapist because of the tormenting flashbacks of being sexually abused. I had a buried secret, unaware that it kept me captive. I was experiencing a lot of emotional pain when I received a profound message in a dream.
Dreams can show us when our bodies are out of alignment. Healing dreams communicate messages to us about our physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
One night I was so restless, I laid awake lonely as a solitary bird in a tree. Family members had turned against me when I disclosed my dad sexually abused me.
Even though my husband tried, I felt no one could truly understand what I was going through. Anxious that I would disturb him, I crawled out of bed. He continued to snore as I put a sweater on over my pajamas, grabbed some fuzzy socks, and headed for the living room.
I opened the curtains so I could look at the stars. The moon was full and low enough in the sky that I had a great view through the window. I wrapped a warm quilt around me and arranged the pillows behind my head until I snuggled down as if in a cocoon. I gazed at the sky and listened to the wind, and at last, my restlessness gave way to sleep.
I am in a utility hole that reeks of sewage. The dark place is cramped and narrow. No matter how hard I try to stay away from the wall, I can't, and the sticky tar-like substance clings to me. It stains my clothes. It mats in my hair. I can't wipe it off, and the longer I stay in the dark tunnel, the grimier I get.
Off in the distance, I see a beam of light filtering through the bottom of a door. I decide to walk towards the light. By the time I reach the door, I see many other people, like myself, who have run from their shame and remained hidden for years. Even in this crowd, they seem isolated, alone, crouching down low. They peer at the sliver of light with long, wanting desperately to flee the darkness but too ashamed to be seen covered in filth.
One teenage girl is different. She looks at the light, then down at her soiled clothes and dirty, chipped nails. When she looks back up at the door, her face is no longer sad but determined. She stands up slowly and takes a step forward. Others notice her and shake their heads in warning, but that doesn't stop her––she takes another.
Her eyes fixed on the light. She glides as if ice skating as she moves toward the door in beautiful slow motion. When she knocks softly on the door, it flies open as if someone has been waiting for her arrival. Light floods the tunnel. The people cover their eyes and cover their shame. They look down at their muddy feet, trembling at the thought of being seen and judged.
But not this girl. When the light touches her face, she changes. Once she walks through the door, she transforms. She is no longer wearing dirty rags. Her hair glistens, her face is radiant, and her clothes are sparkling clean. She is full of joy. She is home!
I hear a voice call my name.
I try to see who is standing in front of the girl, but the light flooding the tunnel is so bright I can't see His face. "Who said that? Who are you?"
"I Am the Door. I Am the Light. I Am your Heavenly Father––your true Father. It's time for you to come home too."
I woke up and felt the joy of the girl. I sat up and pushed the quilt to the floor and said, "It's time to come home."
Shame suffocates. It causes us to hide.
It did horrible things to my sense of self. Guilt crippled me and robbed me of living a happy life. It stifled my self-worth, crushed my creativity, and suffocated my love. I thought that something was wrong with me and lived in a prison of lies.
The “shame of who we are” causes us to believe that the only safety is in hiding.
I felt so unworthy of love and belonging. So, to survive, I developed a false self, hoping to be loved and accepted. I believed that no one could love me if they knew the real me or what I had done. I pretended to be someone I was not to feel worthy of love.
Since I felt ugly, I worked hard on my personality. Thus, projecting a self that was entertaining, smart, and had it all together. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect to win respect, not realizing that my relationships were performance-based to earn approval and belonging.
There is a remedy for my shame sickness. But was I willing to take the risk and come into the light? I didn't have to remain hidden, continuing to allow shame to rob me of my identity.
I decided to step into the light after seeing the girl transformed and full of joy. That is why I am telling my story. Someone needs to hear that what happened to you is NOT your fault. And that there is hope and healing after incest and sexual abuse.
I removed the cloak of shame that I had worn for too long when I chose to come out of hiding. Compassionate Love guided me through the Door––a door of hope into the light where I belong. By revising beliefs about myself, I learned that I was worthy of living a better life. Truth took the shame off me, and Light restored my dignity. It wasn't my fault.
I received the Light as it transformed me into a healthy person full of joy. My Heavenly Father fully knows me, and the joy of joys––in being understood, I am fully loved!
God did not give up on me, nor is He giving up on you. Keep moving forward in your healing. It's time to stop hiding and come into the light. He's calling you Home.
Then Jesus said, "I am the light of the world and those who embrace me will experience life-giving light, and they will never walk in darkness." John 8:12