I remember – a little girl sitting on my hands on the walkway. The gravel dug into my palms, hurt bad and I cried. But I mustn’t, mustn’t suck my thumb, my mom admonished me. My big brother and sister didn’t suck their thumbs. I was shamed for wanting to soothe myself, give myself the comfort I did not receive.
(My parents, of course, thought they were doing the right thing, and from their perspective they were saving on future orthodontic bills. I showed them, I needed braces anyway.)
It seems a very significant event, my three year old self sitting on my hands, causing myself deep pain. I began to hide my true self. I hid the joy I felt as a five year old leaping across the floor in Fanya DelBorgo’s modern dance class. My mom continued to drive me to class each week until I was old enough to drive myself. (If she knew how much I loved it, would she shame me and stop driving me?)
I hid my trips into the woods surrounding our house to visit the woodland creatures I imagined there but rarely saw. I would talk to them and make up elaborate stories in my head. I began to create little books. These I showed to my dad. He did have an appreciation for good literature. I began to hide my stories and then stopped writing them.
I hid my eating as an 8 year old, shamed for having to shop in the “chubbies” section of the local department store. I hid the shame of that extra weight by starving myself when I was 11 because I was terrified of being shamed for my weight as I entered a large Junior High School. I would be thin. No one would know that inside me lurked a chubby girl who just wanted comfort, who just wanted to be soothed, who just wanted to be loved and accepted.
I continued to feel unhealthy shame. Beating myself up, judging myself, for not being smart enough, strong enough, for being afraid to speak up. Beating myself up for feeling different, having needs and desires that didn’t look like the needs and desires of others.
Pretty soon I hid all of the richness of who I was. The dark, self-destructive behavior, and the light, my gifts and talents.
I’ve been getting to know myself and reclaim all of my parts that I’ve disowned over the years. I wouldn’t be where I am in my healing process if it weren’t for the ground breaking work of Debbie Ford. I attended my first Shadow Process at Omega Institute seven years ago, where I took a quantum leap in healing my shame. Blessedly, there’s been no turning back.
I continue to find more of the cobwebs that insidiously and secretly took over my psyche. I feel a deep sense of excitement and relief. Most of all, I feel a wave of love, acceptance and compassion for that 3 year old and the girl and woman she grew into as she continued to hide away — and now, heal.