March 21, 2021

The Cycle of Generational Shame Stops with Me.

Someone close to me called me because she heard I was writing a book and wanted to make sure I wasn’t writing about my father.

I shared how my book is about my life story and doesn’t mention him by name, but is my story of how not having a dad affected my life. It’s my story, and it’s important for me to tell the truth. 

She went on about how she doesn’t understand why people would want to air their dirty laundry.

This is a sad story and reflection on how older generations always want to save their face. I learned I can’t save my ass and my face at the same time. So, if I want to get clean and healthy and not carry around all of this generational shame and dysfunction, I need to see it, own it, get clear about it, and let it go. Avoiding it does nothing. This is the issue with the generations before us, sweeping their “dirty laundry” under the rug, and while they were at it, covering it with a heavy table so the secrets and shame could stay hidden.

No. No more.

I’ve carried around enough shame, regret, and grief about my situation for too long. By keeping my upbringing a secret while trying to fit in and find my way as a “normal” person in this life, I sold myself short by being inauthentic and afraid. When I started to own my truth and shared it with others, I felt heard and seen for the first time. I wasn’t ostracized, and I could stand taller. I could look others in the eye. I could breathe for once. 

Don’t tell me what I can and cannot share about my own life. 

My job, now that I’ve found freedom, is to share loudly and wildly to show others it is possible. 

I will not be a secret. Shame thrives in secrecy. 

I will not keep your secrets safe. I will proclaim victory over shame and show others the way. Freedom is to be found in our truth. Healing is to be found in our sharing.

Peace is waiting for us on the other side. We have run and hid for way too long. I will not back down. I will not be made to feel shame for sharing my truth. This peace is for me too. 

I’m done covering up your messes.

I’ve walked this road alone for too long.

I am not here to blast anyone from my past, but I will speak my truth and not let the shame continue to penetrate my soul.

My ancestors walked through their lives with darkness, addiction, and abuse, but it stops here.

I will not continue to live in denial. The truth will set me free.

I will march arm in arm with my fellow trauma survivors. I will walk arm in arm with my fellow people in recovery from abusive childhoods and familial addiction. I will continue to lock arms with people doing this work.

I will no longer brush my shame under the rug and pretend it doesn’t permeate every cell of my being.

The truth will set us free.

We find liberation and strength from sharing our truth. My truth is my truth and no one can take that away from me. No one can downplay it or tell me it wasn’t that bad. No one can question me and ask me not to bring up family secrets—because family secrets are what keep us sick in a perpetual cycle of unresolved pain and darkness.

The abuse and shame are real. The dysfunction and addiction are real.

The pain in my story is mine, and I will shout it out loudly so that others can hear and know they are not alone. I will lock arms with others on this journey of self-discovery.

I’m no longer cowering in front of my God for the shame I carried and the things that have happened to me. I am loved. I am enough. I am worthy.

I am breaking generational chains one link at a time. I am casting off the ball I have been dragging.

Sharing about what has happened to me gives me the strength to persevere. Realizing I am not alone in my afflictions is what this life is about. Shame thrives in the dark. By keeping it a secret it gets stronger, by speaking my truth it dwindles away.

Let the light into those dark places. Let the shame up and out. Let the grief up and out. Speak your truth. If family didn’t want you to talk about them, they should have made better choices. We are not sharing what they did to bring them down but to bring light to what happens in our families.

If we don’t talk about it, nothing changes, and generational dysfunction gets carried on until someone is brave enough to call it out and say, no more. This stops with me.

We need to link arms and come together, strength happens in numbers and we die when we are alone. We die of the feeling of isolation and fear that we are the only ones, but I guarantee we are not. We all have a story to share.

Let’s be cycle breakers.


“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” ~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life


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