In 2011, I hit rock bottom and faced ruin after experiencing severe burnout during my legal career. I left behind my homeland of the UK to begin again in Andalucia, Spain.
In my first year in Spain, I found myself sitting outside a café, one day when a woman asked if she could join me. She worked within the counselling field and was visiting the area to present a workshop at a retreat. She had an open and loving demeanour and I found myself opening up as I shared my history with her.
You see, my workaholic ways and burnout happened for one reason. I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse and I hid in my work to avoid dealing with the effects. I had just begun the process of healing from the devastating emotional wounds of my experiences.
Sexual abuse has a devasting effect on a child; mind, body and soul. I grew up into an adult with wounds that festered away, carried deep-seated fears that related to every aspect of my life, and a distorted view of the world and the people around me. I was left with feelings of shame and guilt that did not belong to me.
During the conversation, she made a gesture that took me completely by surprise yet the healing effect was intense. As I talked about the wounding effects of childhood sexual abuse, especially shame, she gently stroked under my chin with her finger and said, “You should never feel ashamed, buttercup. You did nothing wrong.”
I guess the mention of the word buttercup, while stroking under my chin, instantly took me back to times as a little girl. I loved to hold a buttercup under the chin of a friend, to see the projected yellow shadow. Her gesture cut through all of my inner walls, my wounds, my shame and felt like a balm to my heart.
I burst into tears and cried for half an hour, as I shared my story with her. Her gesture cut through the inner shame, leaving me free to share my story while feeling accepted and understood. I released more emotions in that half an hour than over the previous six months.
Why is shame such a difficult emotion to deal with? Shame tends to be an emotion that sits on the bottom of our stomach like a concrete block, yet can burn us to the core when triggered. We want to hide away and not show our pain or shame to other people, because shame tends to make us feel unloveable.
At some point in my journey, I read that shame is inverted anger, which we turn in on ourself. This can be the feeling of shame for the acts that we have committed but also shame for what has been done to us. The latter is the anger we are entitled to feel towards the person who has hurt us.
Either way, shame is not an emotion that we want to carry. If we recognise that shame is inverted anger, we can deal with the emotion of shame in a similar way.
Excerpt from my book, “Growing Wilder: Awaken Your Wild Spirit.” I share my journey to grow wilder and how you can awaken your wild spirit, too. Let’s return to a more natural way of living. Click the link below for details or read the first chapter for free at Growing Wilder Sneak Peek.
(c) Samantha Wilson 2020. All Rights Reserved.