The Day I Told My Story: How Keeping Secrets Perpetuates Shame

From Fear to Freedom
From Fear to Freedom GUIDE topaz enhance sharpen hiresDOWNLOAD GUIDE

One of the hardest things I've ever done is tell my story. THE Story. The story about my father murdering my mother and me watching the whole thing. Yes, THAT story.

For years, I was ashamed to be the daughter of a murderer. I believed people would shun me because I was an orphan. I was sure no one would like me if they knew the truth about my past.

Because anyone who even knew the barest details of what happened left my life soon after I shared even a tiny morsel about that day.

Each time I slit open my heart to spill a tidbit with someone I thought I could trust, I hoped, or maybe I wished, or maybe I was testing to see if they would still like me––soon enough, quite quickly usually, they would find a reason to leave.

So I bolted a bigger padlock on my secret. I felt like I had to. I told myself, "no one could handle it."f

female author at home writing in journal

But I was lying to myself.

I didn't know it at the time. But now I do.

I was lying to keep myself safe, to keep from feeling, failing, forgiving. I was convinced I couldn't claim THAT part of me.

Naming your story, telling your story, OWNING your story...well, when you do that as sloppy and as messy and as best you can, your shame will dissolve with every word you write, every syllable you utter.

When we feel embarrassed or worried or concerned about something in our past and do not admit those feelings or share that story, shame seeps into our cells and makes us believe that the shame we feel is who we are.

Because it's keeping secrets that perpetuate shame––and your story is nothing to be ashamed of.

Keeping secret where we've come from, where we've been, and the mess we're in now signals to our body and brain that we do not deserve what everyone else does. That, too, adds shame.

Because of the amount of shame I felt, things like happiness were out of reach. I didn't deserve that. I hadn't saved my mother, so I sentenced myself to a life of struggle, sacrifice, shame. That lasted twenty years. TWENTY YEARS!

My heart was pounding when I first read THAT story out loud.

I had joined a writing group hoping to start my book about being fearless. I had no intention of writing THAT story. Not at all. That story didn't need to be in my book.

But you know what happened, right? The second week after joining this ragtag ring of wanna-be writers, the group leader told us to write our stories for our meeting the following week.

I told myself to write another story. Maybe about getting sober. Or a story about one of my suicide attempts. Any other story but that. I convinced myself I could not write THAT story down. Not. At. All. I would die on the spot. I was sure of it.

But as the days ticked by, I knew I had to. Regardless of the results, regardless of if it meant they would ask me to leave the group because I must be so damaged, I knew I had to write it down.

So I did.

I had no idea the group leader would make us read our stories out loud when we gathered again. I thought of leaving before it was my turn, but in my heart I knew I could no longer run away from my past.

That day became my stake in the ground. My line in the sand. Rhonda's last stand.

When it was my turn, I took a deep breath.

Then, I quickly put my head down so I couldn't make eye contact with another soul. I was petrified they would roll their eyes or jeer at me as I shared what happened that fateful day. I just knew they'd think I was weak, stupid, damaged for not saving my mother. I didn't look up until I finished blurting out the pages I'd managed to squeeze out of me.

When I finished, my neck and face felt flush. Not only from the tears that had escaped between my incessant blinks in my lame attempt to keep them back. But also because they would now know I was crap, trash, from one of "those" families.

One of "those" families.

My biggest fear has always been that I would be ostracized, cast out if anyone knew who my father was. Whose blood ran through my veins.

But that's not what happened.

Thinking about it now, I am still shocked at what I saw when I lifted my head and looked around at the handful of writers that I would have sworn didn't make a sound because they were bored, just patiently waiting for me to finish my poorly written scribble.

But that's not what happened.

They were crying.

All of them.

My eyes are welling up right now as I remember that historic, life-changing moment.

I had no idea that writing my story down and then sharing it out loud would have such a profound impact on healing my past.

I had no idea.

Maybe you don't either.

Is there a story about your past you're ashamed to tell? A story you haven't told anyone (besides maybe your bestest friend)?

What if you could tell it freely, without fear that you'd be shunned, ignored, or laughed at?

What if releasing your story by telling your story would free you from that very same story? From the shame of that story, the embarrassment of that story, the heartbreak of that story. What if?

If you are still with me, you may be ready for some more healing, releasing, and forgiving.

Just think about it, won't you?

Are there any stories you decided, or someone decided for you, were too shameful to name or speak or claim or tell?

The shame you and I have hung on to that stem from the stories we keep hidden can be released.

We can set ourselves free by sharing what seems unbearable. By the way, it feels unbearable because we aren't meant to carry our stories alone.

And here's the best news, how and when we share our story is all in our hands. That's how powerful we are.

Love yourself enough to at least "think" about writing down the story that you're afraid would freak you out the most.

And when you have, and when you're ready, ask a friend, a good friend, to listen until you share every last word.

From Fear to Freedom
From Fear to Freedom GUIDE topaz enhance sharpen hiresDOWNLOAD GUIDE

One of the hardest things I've ever done is tell my story. THE Story. The story about my father murdering my mother and me watching the whole thing. Yes, THAT story.

For years, I was ashamed to be the daughter of a murderer. I believed people would shun me because I was an orphan. I was sure no one would like me if they knew the truth about my past.

Because anyone who even knew the barest details of what happened left my life soon after I shared even a tiny morsel about that day.

Each time I slit open my heart to spill a tidbit with someone I thought I could trust, I hoped, or maybe I wished, or maybe I was testing to see if they would still like me––soon enough, quite quickly usually, they would find a reason to leave.

So I bolted a bigger padlock on my secret. I felt like I had to. I told myself, "no one could handle it."f

female author at home writing in journal

But I was lying to myself.

I didn't know it at the time. But now I do.

I was lying to keep myself safe, to keep from feeling, failing, forgiving. I was convinced I couldn't claim THAT part of me.

Naming your story, telling your story, OWNING your story...well, when you do that as sloppy and as messy and as best you can, your shame will dissolve with every word you write, every syllable you utter.

When we feel embarrassed or worried or concerned about something in our past and do not admit those feelings or share that story, shame seeps into our cells and makes us believe that the shame we feel is who we are.

Because it's keeping secrets that perpetuate shame––and your story is nothing to be ashamed of.

Keeping secret where we've come from, where we've been, and the mess we're in now signals to our body and brain that we do not deserve what everyone else does. That, too, adds shame.

Because of the amount of shame I felt, things like happiness were out of reach. I didn't deserve that. I hadn't saved my mother, so I sentenced myself to a life of struggle, sacrifice, shame. That lasted twenty years. TWENTY YEARS!

My heart was pounding when I first read THAT story out loud.

I had joined a writing group hoping to start my book about being fearless. I had no intention of writing THAT story. Not at all. That story didn't need to be in my book.

But you know what happened, right? The second week after joining this ragtag ring of wanna-be writers, the group leader told us to write our stories for our meeting the following week.

I told myself to write another story. Maybe about getting sober. Or a story about one of my suicide attempts. Any other story but that. I convinced myself I could not write THAT story down. Not. At. All. I would die on the spot. I was sure of it.

But as the days ticked by, I knew I had to. Regardless of the results, regardless of if it meant they would ask me to leave the group because I must be so damaged, I knew I had to write it down.

So I did.

I had no idea the group leader would make us read our stories out loud when we gathered again. I thought of leaving before it was my turn, but in my heart I knew I could no longer run away from my past.

That day became my stake in the ground. My line in the sand. Rhonda's last stand.

When it was my turn, I took a deep breath.

Then, I quickly put my head down so I couldn't make eye contact with another soul. I was petrified they would roll their eyes or jeer at me as I shared what happened that fateful day. I just knew they'd think I was weak, stupid, damaged for not saving my mother. I didn't look up until I finished blurting out the pages I'd managed to squeeze out of me.

When I finished, my neck and face felt flush. Not only from the tears that had escaped between my incessant blinks in my lame attempt to keep them back. But also because they would now know I was crap, trash, from one of "those" families.

One of "those" families.

My biggest fear has always been that I would be ostracized, cast out if anyone knew who my father was. Whose blood ran through my veins.

But that's not what happened.

Thinking about it now, I am still shocked at what I saw when I lifted my head and looked around at the handful of writers that I would have sworn didn't make a sound because they were bored, just patiently waiting for me to finish my poorly written scribble.

But that's not what happened.

They were crying.

All of them.

My eyes are welling up right now as I remember that historic, life-changing moment.

I had no idea that writing my story down and then sharing it out loud would have such a profound impact on healing my past.

I had no idea.

Maybe you don't either.

Is there a story about your past you're ashamed to tell? A story you haven't told anyone (besides maybe your bestest friend)?

What if you could tell it freely, without fear that you'd be shunned, ignored, or laughed at?

What if releasing your story by telling your story would free you from that very same story? From the shame of that story, the embarrassment of that story, the heartbreak of that story. What if?

If you are still with me, you may be ready for some more healing, releasing, and forgiving.

Just think about it, won't you?

Are there any stories you decided, or someone decided for you, were too shameful to name or speak or claim or tell?

The shame you and I have hung on to that stem from the stories we keep hidden can be released.

We can set ourselves free by sharing what seems unbearable. By the way, it feels unbearable because we aren't meant to carry our stories alone.

And here's the best news, how and when we share our story is all in our hands. That's how powerful we are.

Love yourself enough to at least "think" about writing down the story that you're afraid would freak you out the most.

And when you have, and when you're ready, ask a friend, a good friend, to listen until you share every last word.

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