Breaking Free from the Shackles of Shame
Most of this blog was based on personal experience and sections of it were taken from the Christian movie “The Heart of Man” which is found on Netflix – highly recommend it!
I have been there. I was ashamed of my past - my parents - my addiction - my job loss. I was lost and empty for so long. I had this ache that couldn’t be filled.
Everyone has a story and this is mine.
I didn’t know the truth of my being – I didn’t know what I was made for. I didn’t know God was a good father. I desired to be so small and so protected by a great father. I wanted to crawl onto his lap and know that he was beaming at me with pride.
I lacked tenderness as a kid and I had this innate desire to be loved. I longed to be one with someone. I wanted to belong and be comfortable in my own skin. I didn’t want to hide and conceal more secrets. But I couldn’t stop. I felt like everybody could see my mess. So I became a performer – if I was funny enough, cool enough or good enough then you would think I was loveable. I always felt that God was unhappy with me. I felt like God was a million miles away with the “holy” people over there and I was over here.
I was abused as a child and I didn’t know it was wrong. I knew something happened and I knew I wasn’t supposed to share this with anyone. I didn’t know I was molested at 7 until I was told about sexual assault at 17. I didn’t know how deeply this violation affected me – I didn’t know how my compulsive behaviour was connected to being abused. I was grasping for control because I felt so powerless in that abusive situation. “There is nothing in terms of human experience that rips the fabric of the soul apart quite like sexual abuse. It climbs into the spaces that should never be broken and breaks them.”
I didn’t know a fatherly love - I didn’t trust him. I didn’t trust my abuser so I internalized that it was a guy problem. I didn’t trust men. I didn’t want to be devastated. My idea of maleness became distorted. My idea of God became distorted. Fathers have a way of telling us the truth of who we are as daughters – when we lose that and nobody tells us, we are open to every lie that anyone will tell us.
Shame is an inner judgment that there’s something wrong and broken about us. If someone were to see, they could not bear to be in a relationship with us and we could not bear to be in a relationship with them. Shame drives my compulsive behaviour – I am never going to be enough so I am entitled to do wrong and I might as well be mediocre.
Sexual addiction didn’t seem like a big deal – it is just porn nobody’s getting hurt. No one is going to find out. If I kept everything a secret, no one would get hurt. I believed the lie that if anyone REALLY saw me, they wouldn’t like what they saw. So I kept hiding, kept the secrets and lies going. I didn’t know what was real or false. I was living this half-life.
Lust is desire gone mad – we all want something to fill our emptiness and imagine if you could escape all of it? This is what my addiction gave me. It gave me an outlet to escape. I satiated my hunger with my compulsive addiction. I had lust that sickened me and yet when I got hungry for more, I needed more to push that sick feeling away. Gradually I knew that this was deeply debilitating. It was going to destroy me if I let it.
It felt bad but it felt good – the quenching didn’t last long but I kept coming back. I had to do it to get through the day – the next day and the next day. It was self-medication that was actually killing me. This guilt and shame crippled me but I was also on this high. I was in this cycle of shame and wanting to feel better.
I didn’t know why I couldn’t say no. I wanted to clean myself up, play the right part but the shame ate at me. You’re too weak. God doesn’t want you after all that. So I hid because I feared god’s response to me. I tried to cover myself up. I tried to manage my behaviour but my motivation was fear. I didn’t want to be found out. I was afraid my addiction disqualified me from being loved by God.
When I came back to God with all my scars and mess and poverty, I realized the truth of my addiction. I was hungry for God, for the source, for the infinite. I pacified myself in addiction with lesser loves and numbed away my loneliness. I believed the evil lie that feeding my addiction made me in control when this was so untrue. Addiction left me spiralling out of control.
The devil hates beauty and life. The beauty of God is despised by him. So he scatters ruin and perversion in our hearts to cause disarray. It brings evil such joy to bring you shame in your sexuality because the shame perpetrates more pain and more hurt. For a few seconds of lifetime, it brought decades of shame and guilt and self-hatred. Satan lies to us and says we can’t trust God – God won’t accept you – He’ll let you down and lie to you – He won’t want you now. Satan doesn’t want you to become what you were meant to be. All he wants to do is keep you broken and feeling worthless and he wants you to believe that the desire for intimacy and sex is unholy and bad. Only later did I learn that sex is not only good but holy. The desire for love and intimacy is good and is ultimately a desire for God. But I didn’t know this until recently.
I felt innate confusion about the arousal I felt – there was a repulsiveness and hatred of the feeling but an attraction to the feeling. I was so divided. When I came before God I thought I would receive complete rage and disappointment. But I still went before Him. I slowly lifted the brokenness of my life into the light and it stung. It was like this vision: “I was in prison cuffed up and no would sit with me. I sat alone and in walked Jesus in prison clothing like me and he sits across me in silence. I asked Him “why would you sit with me?” He said “I’ll always sit with you. By the way the door is open, you can leave any time.” I realized I was keeping myself in prison. When I choose darkness, He is still watching me. He wasn’t demanding me to stop my addiction. He wanted to help me see how I got into this moment. He wanted to show me that I wasn’t alone. He wanted to work through my mess with me. I healed from the truth that God wants to be with me in my prison, in my disease, and in relapses, in my poverty. He loved me inside and out. I knew He “loved” me but when I encountered that love and mercy – I couldn’t walk away. It was better than any high I had ever had. I don’t have control over how liberation from shame comes – I know that God came for me with a fierce love and pulled me out of the dark world I built for myself.
God is saying to you: “I am not ashamed of you. I am not afraid of you. I want your heart. I am not out to change you, or judge you. All your sin is taken care of. I want you to know My delight in you as My beloved one even in your brokenness.” I became aware that God was willing to climb onto my deepest mess, my deepest loss and He transforms it into something precious – he restores my mess into a message.
God is with you in darkness, addiction, shame, unsettledness, pain, woundedness that you don’t want anyone to see. When I embrace how God sees me that is when I encounter who I truly am. I am not an addict; I am not a burden, a problem child, a failure, a mistake. I am His. My significance comes from who I am not what I do. God wants to enter into your heartache to bring you to His deep joy. Enter the depths of His love and that will set you free. Go to Confession. Sit in Adoration and let Him love you. Let Him in. God collects your tears because He knows the importance of your sorrow and suffering.
My addiction had been about infatuation – I projected my imagination onto others for my use. I had this imagination of being fulfilled in my addiction but had nothing to do with the other person as being a real person. Part of my deliverance from sexual addiction was real connection with REAL people. I started to have holy, good, life-giving friendships with guys and I was able to grow in real intimacy with others. I used to think intimacy was only sex but I was now learning to cultivate emotional intimacy.
You need to make a choice to embrace your belovedness and say goodbye to the same. Do not be controlled by your shame. You need to rewire your brain and purge out the lies with support of others. Join a support group. Get an accountability partner. Email me your name and I will pray for you – firstname.lastname@example.org
Forgive yourself. Open up yourself. You are not defined by your erratic behaviour. You are defined by His love for you that is so permanent and constant – His relentless affection will pursue you and wrap up your brokenness. You are loved. You matter. Your choices matter and who you are becoming matters. You are strong. You are good. You can do this. You are made new. You are the one that He left the 99 behind for. You are precious.