Dealing with Shame from Authority

This week, I’m going to write about a personal experience from my childhood. The point is to show you that no memory is too insignificant to process in regards to recovery. It’s also to show that God is faithful to bring us healing when we ask.

Ever since I’ve had jobs, I dealt with anxiety towards my bosses. I’d set high expectations for myself, work hard, and feel like I was running from reprimand. The thought of doing something wrong haunted me. I would feel sick at work and obsessively think about stupid things I had done or said. If my boss asked to speak with me, I always assumed it was a bad report.

This past month, I started processing why I feel so much shame at work and I asked God to reveal to me what I needed to see.

As I was going to bed one night, a memory flashed in my head. It was a memory I hadn’t thought of in a long time. On a family vacation, in the middle of the night, I had gotten up and was scared. At home, when this would happen, I would go into my parents’ room and sleep with them. Here, we had so much family around, I wasn’t sure where everyone was sleeping. I made it to a bedroom where my grandparents were sleeping and snuggled up with them. At some point, my grandmother realized there was someone else in her bed and was somewhat startled. She startled speaking loudly, which woke me up, and by some force of nature, I ended up falling on the floor. When she realized who I was, she yelled, “Get back in your bed!” I was mortified. I ran back to the room I was staying in and dove into the covers. My desire was to never leave my new safe haven for the rest of the trip. I was humiliated and traumatized by the rejection. The next morning, my grandmother told everyone what had happened like it was hilarious. I was further mortified by the whole occurrence.

Once that memory popped into my mind, it surprised me how embarrassed I was about it. As an adult, I didn’t want to tell anyone. In my head, I was thinking, Surely this little incident couldn’t be affecting my work relationship with bosses… right?

I wrote a letter to God about it and read it to my counselor. She told me some very helpful elements about my story:

  1. I didn’t do anything wrong
  2. I wasn’t given appropriate coping mechanisms to deal with separation anxiety
  3. My grandmother showed me I had bad ideas and that I was wrong
  4. That led me to believe I had the potential for wrong/bad ideas
  5. This led me to doubt my abilities and fear getting in trouble for my ideas

Basically, the unprocessed shame I experienced in that moment kept me wrapped in fear, doubt, and guilt into the future.

Here’s how the scenario should’ve gone down:

When I was scared and would go to my parent’s bedroom, they should have brought me back to bed and instilled in me healthy coping mechanisms for fear and loneliness (praying, reassurance, etc.). My grandmother should’ve done the same. This would’ve validated my feeling afraid, but helped me learn how to overcome that fear by seeking God.

However, my parents and grandparents were doing the best they knew to do. They weren’t shown the proper way either. After talking through all this and asking God to remove my anxiety and shame from this memory, it was astounding how different I felt at work! I can’t express the peace and certainty that sits with me now. Can you believe it? From unpacking one, traumatic (but seemingly silly) childhood memory!

I know there’s more to my periods of anxiety at work, but God has been gracious to give me a little respite. I can tell that I feel more freedom now to be genuine with my bosses. God is in control, therefore, I don’t need to worry. I can have peace in all situations.

So, if you have a memory hanging around and it seems ridiculous, process it! See what God does with it. When we keep our shame to ourselves, it grows. When we share it with someone we trust, it is destroyed in the light.

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Fear of Success

This year, my goals consist of some health things, some emotional recoveries I’d like to process, and some tangible, deadline-kind-of goals. One of my tangible goals is to get published. I’ve focused in on a family-geared book and this past weekend I handed my first draft over to someone whose opinion really matters to me. He could possibly even help me move this project forward.

When I first wrote out this goal and my first step towards making it a reality, it seemed like an awesome, bold idea. Halfway towards the weekend, it started seeming like an exhaustive project with no end. One day away from presenting my first draft to someone important… I was terrified.

Usually, I’ve sabotaged myself by then. Since I didn’t quit, a daily inner discussion with myself began about when the proper time for sabotage will be.

Is it when it comes time to print out my manuscript? Will I just not? Or will it be when I arrive to present my book? Will I keep it in my bag and pretend it never happened? Will I regret going forward with the whole thing if he looks at it with a tired expression or one of indifference? Maybe I don’t want to know what the reaction to my hard work will be to a person I highly respect that hardly knows me… Maybe this whole thing is a bad idea. I’m not a great writer anyways. Why would people want to read my stuff? Why would a publisher want to publish my stuff?

It’s all very frightening.

However, this time I knew I was different. I’d been in recovery for two years. I coached myself.

I will push through my fears and just do. Not everyone is meant to be famous but I know God made everyone with a purpose. He made everyone with gifts uniquely designed to glorify Him. Since I was a kid, I have loved reading, writing, and drawing. It’s how I express myself. I believe it’s how God has designed me to glorify and praise Him. I enjoy it and it’s come to my realization that using our gifts for God is not a suggestion but a must. He must be glorified.

Knowing that my goal was God’s glory made each action easier. It wasn’t about me. It was about Him.

The handoff of my manuscript was pretty anticlimactic — but it happened. The fact that I stuck to my goal was a huge victory for me. I’m not doing scary things in life for myself… it’s not worth it. I’m doing it for God. He gave me the gifts and He will orchestrate them to be used in His time to spread His truth to whoever needs to hear it. His truth. I live my life by it and for it. There’s nothing better.

Here’s to kicking fear of success out the window in 2017!

Stop Being an Avoidant

Happy New Year! It’s crazy that I’ve had this blog for a year – that I’ve been in recovery for another year. When I met my counselor at our first session two years ago, I wasn’t sure what she would tell me. I knew that family members had been seeing her and were transforming in ways I never thought possible. I thought I was a pretty balanced person and just needed a little fine tuning. After all, they were insane and I was merely a minor case.

Was I ever wrong! I learned I was a miserable, love addict searching for what I already had.

After the first two sessions with my counselor, I left with a light of renewed hope and a joy I never thought possible. This led me to realize I’d been miserable.

Next, I was also working towards a relationship that I had been putting all my hope in for the past year and a half. Over the next five or six crucial months, I would discover I was a love addict pursuing a love avoidant. I was stuck in an endless fearful cycle of intimacy and abandonment. I’d been on an emotional roller coaster for most of my dating life.

Through all of this, I discovered that my walk with God could be opened up into an unending supply of everything I could need. His attributes are lovely, divine, and freeing. His thoughts and feelings about me are overflowing with love, acceptance, affirmation, beauty… you name your need, He has already been providing since you were born. I was finally free.

Do you know the joy of being free? I needed to be free mainly of myself. My obsessive thinking and negative beliefs about myself and how God viewed me. Being healed of that, alone, has catapulted me into a new life that I never want to be free from. I know it’s only going to get better.

I am so grateful.

A lot of ground has been covered in a fast two years and 2017 is here. In the codependency daily devotional, Letting Go, a series of questions are presented for the New Year. One of them struck me in particular: What blocks or character defects would you like to have removed?

After having devoted two years to my love addiction recovery, this year, I would like to focus on removing my love avoidance. It’s a side of myself that has received very little attention due to my out of control love addiction. This year, it’s time to take on the avoidance. Socializing, here I come! It’s time to work through my fear of intimacy and connect… omg.