June 27, 2022

Shame Still Visits all these Years Later: 8 Tools that help me Move Through.


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I recently wrote the following and published it instantly on Elephant:

At the moment, regardless of how hard I try to stand in the now, yesterday is holding me; it feels so real and raw.

All of the things I was. All of the things I had to be.

I grew up dissociated from myself and learned to live my life like a chameleon because it kept me safe, blending in where I needed to but never able to stay because I didn’t know how.

I never knew trust so I never trusted.

I never believed that someone could love me, so it made it easy to leave.

I learned lessons, survival skills from my ancestors: I was a cheater, I was a leaver, I was a liar.

That’s what was modeled.

Just like an animal in the wild teaches its young how and where to hunt, what noises mean danger, I was shown how to be.

I used this platform thinking writing would aid in more healing and I thought it did for a minute but now it feels as if I’ve gone backwards a bit. My body is here in today but I am feeling excruciating pain from yesterday.

It sits heavy like bricks on my chest, crushing my heart, squeezing my soul.

I am not any of the things I was; I haven’t been for a very long time.

I have and continue to work hard understanding why I was who I was and it’s in the understanding that I find the truth of who I am.

I am not a writer, I am just a woman who works hard at evolving into a better human being. I pray to be better, do better. I pray for peace within so I can contribute peace to the people around me. 

If you walked with me from the moment I was conceived, you would know me.

You would see me, you may even see some of yourself, the same way I see myself in others’ circumstances.

There are many sayings, quotes, teachings on healing from your past, from your pain, from your mistakes. There are classes taught by people who have done just that, people who have overcome their struggles, but do they?

Is it possible that we can be who we dream to be?

Who we want to be?

Is it possible to move on and away from old nightmares?

Or will the pain of yesterday be there always, waiting for our boundaries to be weak, thin, and exhausted, giving it an opening to come in and remind you once again where you came from, taking you back and holding you hostage in yesterday, with your mistakes, your parents’ mistakes, their parents’ mistakes… 

I was stuck in a dark place that week, stuck ruminating on the past and my many mistakes and choices that brought pain for myself and others.

I wrote about it and published it to the Grassroots section, not fully feeling it was the right time to send it to editors. My plan was to let it sit and go back to reread it for the next three days, exposing myself to others but also to myself.

Yesterday, I decided to put it back in my drafts folder because I knew from experience that what I was feeling were emotions from the past. I knew none of it was my current life.

I also knew I couldn’t stay there—in yesterday’s pain—I had to make myself move through it.

So, I carried on quietly and went to work using the tools I’ve gathered to get out of it, to unstuck myself. I thought I’d share a few I’ve found to be my holistic “Drano” when I need to get things moving.

1. I deleted Instagram. At the time, I knew it was one of the main ingredients that kept me stuck in an ocean of fear, grief, and shame. I was stuck in a bad habit, looking into others’ lives and getting caught up in other people’s stories. None of  it had anything to do with me, my today, or my now.

2. I didn’t let myself go to the couch or bed and wallow in it. In the past, stress would make me sick and chase me to bed for days, then to doctor’s visits trying to find out why I felt like I was dying. So, I got up every morning at 5 a.m. and lived just like I did before the shadows came.

3. I kept my therapist appointment and shared with her my pain, my feelings, and my fears.

4. I stayed devoted to my morning spiritual practice, and sat longer in silence and self-reflection.

5. I didn’t abandon myself by drinking it away or numbing it. I allowed myself to feel it all.

6. For three straight days, I made sure I spent a few hours in the yard, tending to it, loving it, and later, sitting in silence while I took in the changes and new growth. Remembering what it looked like when we first moved in reminded me of the work that was put into the transformation, which also highlighted my personal journey and transformation.

 7. I continued to read all of the inspiring articles here on Elephant Journal, reminding myself that while we all struggle with different hardships, at the same time we can heal when we share.

8. I surrendered to what was, to what is, and to what will be.

As I write this, it is my late father’s birthday. I have written about him before, about his dark and his light. This morning, I dedicated my practice to his memory, and to all the good he was while also forgiving the things he was not.

I also asked the universe to show me a sign that I’m going the right way, that it’s listening to my prayers for healing the generational trauma, the pain of yesterday so that I continue to heal and not pass it on.

I then ended my practice and went into the yard to clean and refill our hummingbird feeders. My husband was also outside getting his bike from the shed just a few feet away. As I started to pour the sweet sugar water into the blue globe, I began talking to the hummingbirds, who were nowhere in sight. I was letting them know that new, fresh nectar was on its way.

Out of nowhere, one of our newest summer guests flew before me and began to dance and sing. It flew back and forth making the shape of a huge letter U; back and forth, my husband and I just stared in amazement at this dance as we’d never seen it before. It went on for what seemed like forever, but was probably a minute, and then it flew to each feeder and back into the trees.

As an adult, my father’s home in upstate New York was my first close-up view of hummingbirds. There were so many, I couldn’t count. I was amazed as I heard the softness and care in his voice as he would talk to them. I hold that moment of his peace in my heart always.

I believe the hummingbird was my sign. It was the universe, it was my father, telling me that yes, I am going the right way.

I know that pain will come again. The wheel will turn and darkness will come.

But right now, here I am. I am unstuck once again from the pain of yesterday, full of hope, full of love, and fully committed to learning to be here.


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