Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Shame of It All

*SHAME* This morning while I was sitting in my car waiting to pick my daughter up from preschool, my illness (Ulcerative Colitis) in all its horrible glory forced me to have an accident. I don't think I have to explain what kind of accident. Suffice it to say it was the worst kind. There was nothing I could do. You can't just run into a school nowadays and find a bathroom. You have to go to the office and sign in as a visitor and get a pass and... I never would have made it to the door.

*MORTIFICATION* I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. Instead, I just hid it the best I could and hurried home, thanking God for my choice of dark jeans and a long coat. What else could I do? And thank God my daughter is still too young be embarrassed by me, but she won't stay too young for long. Our shame increases exponentially with every loved one who has to suffer that shame with us and because of us, with every spouse, child, parent, or friend who must bear a scar of their own just by association. ...association with us and our shame.

*EMBARRASSMENT* The reason I am posting about something so personal and gross is because I know I am not the only one whose illness or side effect from medication has reared its ugly head at the worst possible moment, causing the kind of shame that physically feels like it's burning you from the inside out. Has something similiar ever happened to you? A panic attack in the middle of your kiddo's play? The inability to physically hold your baby during her baptism? A seizure in the middle of your Christmas party? Fainting in church? Collapsing in pain at Walmart, unable to move? Throwing up at the DMV? An inappropriate outburst in class?

Does your fear of embarrassment keep you from doing things you want to do?
Mine does.

*HUMILIATION* I don't expect many replies if any: this is a terribly difficult thing to talk about when there is no anonymity for our benefit, and I do not want anyone to feel any more embarrassment than they already feel. I just wanted to let you know, and remind myself, that we are not alone in our shame and disgust with ourselves. I also wanted to let others know that our illnesses go beyond the physical symptoms, and the scars they cause are more than skin deep.
*FEAR* The wounds caused by events like these heal slowly and never entirely. When I think going out in public again, at least today, I burst into tears. It's going to take some time to be able to face what has become my one of greatest personal fears. I don't want to let my disease run my life, I don't want the fear of what I see as the worst kind of embarrassment make my decisions for me, but I also need to be kind to myself. It's not about "forgiving myself." It's about understanding that I am forgiven for being myself, for that which I cannot control, and trusting that people could forgive me and could still be my friends even if they saw my deepest shame. In the meantime, I can thank God for the understanding and compassion my personal shame leaves in my heart when it comes to the embarrassment of others.

Here is a really good article addressing the embarrassed and God's unconditional love by Paul Maxwell, called "How God Embraces the Embarrassed." It's worth reading and bookmarking to read again when the inevitable happens. God loves you, and so do I, so hold your head up high and try to love you, too. Click on the link below.

"Embarrassment, rejection, exile, shame, and loneliness are all real. And so the embarrassed are a people who cry Why have you forsaken me?” with Jesus, who says to them,
You will be with me,” (Luke 23:43)."