This morning I was looking through photos from 4 years ago (prompted by Google photos) and an emotion that I’ve been feeling since yesterday crashed over me.
That feeling was shame.
I cried and I cried while looking through these old photos and screenshots.
Let’s rewind so I can give you some backstory.
In spring of 2012 I got married. We’d known each other for 6 months and were both 20 going on 21. We were madly in love and I needed a place to live, but our Christian families wouldn’t have approved us living together out of wedlock.
David had never had a girlfriend before me; I had been with several people before him.
Throughout our marriage, David went above and beyond. Always. Worked full time, fed us both, paid for everything, cleaned, had a social life, cared for me, and kept close with his family.
I…. had so much within me that I didn’t deal with; I felt such a void that my marriage couldn’t fill. My depression was overwhelming, I felt no sense of purpose, and didn’t truly know how to take care of myself, let alone another person.
As time passed, our physical relationship soured. So much so that my body no longer wanted to be touched by him.
But if you remember, I already felt empty.
Desperate to feel, I turned to other people. I cheated. Emotionally and physically. I betrayed the man that loved me more than himself time and time again.
I became physically ill. Stomach problems for seemingly no reason other than the anxiety & stress of living a life that was not congruent.
In 2018 I went on a 3 week trip with a friend. David and I talked the whole time I was away, and we both really thrived during that time. When I returned home, it was instantly back to normal, even though we didn’t want it to be.
We went to couples counselling (not for the first time) and the counsellor wanted to see us for individual sessions.
When it was time for mine, she looked at me and basically said, “You know what you want, what is it.”
She offered to help facilitate the conversation between David and I. The next week, just before we were leaving for our session together, I told him what the session would be about.
He was, understandably, devastated. He didn’t understand (though at some level, he did). I knew that he would never leave me or end things, and that if I wanted both of us to live a better life it would have to be me that made the decision.
Now, please realize how much middle there was that I’m not speaking of here. There was attempts at healing, there was reconciling, there was forgiveness, there was attempted growth and learning. In our own ways we were both mentally stuck and could not work past it.
David and I to this day are still friends. We still talk, and (pre-covid) hangout semi-regularly. He and I “grew up together” in that we spent our formative early 20s with one another.
Fast-forward to yesterday & today’s feeling of shame.
When I look back on how and who I was, I weep for her. I was so broken, so sad, and in so much internal pain that I did not know how to deal. I betrayed myself for the affection I longed for.
Other people became collateral for my pain.
Why am I talking about this?
Shame thrives in the dark. As Brené Brown says in her book Daring Greatly, “Shame derives it’s power from being unspeakable.”
If you know me, you know that I’m pretty open and will quickly say that I was a bad wife. Most know about my infidelity.
Shame (and fear of the judgement of others) would have me believe that I am a bad, irredeemable person.
Yes, what I did was so wrong that it shakes me to my core. I was in survival mode and was too focused on my own searing pain to take responsibility for the harm I caused others (I will be writing another post to talk more about this).
Yet, I know, with everything that I am that things can change. People can grow, and they can learn.
I am grateful for those that have forgiven my past misdoings, and that give me trust to be better now.
As self-serving as it may feel, I have to show compassion to myself for how I acted and who I was. That’s where healing and true change takes place.
For anyone reading this that feels shame in your soul: You are not alone. I see you, and your pain.
More from me soon. ♡
If you’re feeling brave, allow the comment section to be where you share your shame.
(This is a safe space, and I ask for everyone to treat it as such. Comments are moderated by me.)