On what I’m learning about shame {A 2016 Intentional}

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

Shame.  It affects all of us on this planet.  And for those of us that share a similar story here – let me tell you – we know it well.  Not only for our husbands, as this is a huge part of an addicts world and propels them right back into the addictive cycle.  But also for us wives.  If you’ve ever thought, “if they really knew, they’d think I’m worthless” or “if only I were sexier, my husband wouldn’t have done what he did”…  That my friends is shame talking.


I mentioned here that I wanted to focus on shame this year in my personal life.  And that I’d share some of what I’m learning here on the blog.  So here goes…

Going into this new year, I was aware that shame is something I’ve really been struggling with.  In the past, I’ve called it “wanting to hide under the coffee table”.  And for whatever reason, I didn’t make the connection that what I was experiencing was shame.  Naming it has been huge.  But I need more than simply naming it.

How do I move through my shame?

Well, in usual-God-orchestrated-timing, I had an experience about two weeks ago where I found myself deep in the shame hole.  I won’t belabor you with the story.  Just know that over the last 3-4 months, I feel like my mothering has been questioned.  And I’ve walked away in every instance feeling this deep shame.  Am I enough?  Do I even know how to mother well?

I was in the middle of Daring Greatly when I fell unexpectedly back into the hole.  What great timing.  And then, this past weekend, it just so happened that the sermon at our church focused on shame.


So I realize, God is helping me out here.  I want to work through my shame?  God says, “Okay, let’s do it!”

So as I lay the foundation in this post for future posts, here is what I want you to know:

  • The first step for myself in working through shame has been to admit that I struggle with it. It’s part of our human condition and we can’t escape it.  In fact, we can trace it back to Adam and Eve in the garden.  Genesis 2:25 talks about how Adam and Eve “were both naked and they felt no shame.”  It was after eating the forbidden fruit their eyes were open and they covered themselves.  They felt shame.  (By the way, shame here is described as “a feeling of worthlessness.”)
  • The second step in working through my shame is recognizing that it’s not going away.  This side of heaven, it’s part of our human condition.  So although we can’t stop shame from happening, we can figure out the best way to respond to it and work through it in a healthy way.
  • And third, for myself, my shame is wrapped up in trying to live a life of perfection for many many years.  I now know – there is a strong connection between perfectionism and shame.  If I attach my worthiness as a person to perfectionism in any way (whether socially, physically, emotionally, etc.) – it’s inevitable that I will feel unworthy.  Why?  Because it’s impossible to be perfect.

This third point might not hit home for you.  You might not struggle with this notion that in order to be worthy, you must be perfect.  That’s okay.  Just know that there is probably a connection between your shame and your false beliefs, too.  If you can’t name it yet – that’s okay.  Chances are, it’s an area where you know you need to extend grace or favor to yourself and struggle to do so.

I invite you to come alongside me on this journey.  I think it’s going to be good.  It will give us gals insight into ourselves as well as insight into our husband’s behaviors.


2 thoughts on “On what I’m learning about shame {A 2016 Intentional}

  1. Jaleen

    March 7, 2016  |  10:50 pm

    I can’t believe I am just getting around to commenting. One of the biggest things I feel like my husband’s addiction has “stolen” from me, if you will, is my motherhood! Not necessarily taken it away all together, but for months and months I was so disconnected from my toddler and the baby in my belly, and it has shaped our relationship now in ways that I hate. I want to be PRESENT and SILLY with my boys, and for them to see their daddy and mommy loving each other well. You pointing that out as shame is huge for me. I am enough! I want to frame those three words in a place I will see that each day. Thanks, as always, Shelley!

  2. SLM

    March 16, 2016  |  06:22 am

    Today listening to a video lesson about recovery from infidelity the speaker made the comment about how men can project shame on women. The example he used was when men oggle/eye ball a woman and she know just by the expression on his face or the way that he is looking at her that he is basically undressing her in his mind. He said that he has spoken to 100s of women and asked them how they felt when this happened to them and interestingly enough the majority of women reported feeling ashamed. He noted how even though the women where doing nothing wrong, although some of them reported being in bar settings or bathing suits, they did not request the negative attention and reported feeling shame because of it. After listening to him speak about this I realized it is very true. Often women feel shame because of the actions of others even when they have done nothing to be ashamed of.

    Just thought that was interesting.

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