Janet Taylor
February 19, 2020

Image Credit: ©sashafreemind - Unsplash

SHAME - The Illusion of...

I thought I knew what shame was when I couldn’t tell my mother what my father was doing to me at night.

I thought I knew what shame was when staying awake all night started affecting my day to day high school life.

I thought I knew what shame was when they told me that my father wouldn’t be tried due to a technical error on behalf of the DA’s office.

I thought I knew what shame was when I alone at a bus station in Kingston after my father had told me that he was going to do whatever it took to get his name off the sex offenders list.

I thought I knew what shame was when I told my first friend about what my father had done to me for years.

I thought I knew what shame was when my daughter’s mental health struggles drew from the fact she had been molested by another child.

I thought that shame was sitting in the emergency room for the twentieth time after my daughter had succeeded in harming herself.

I thought that shame would rule every part of my life no matter how much courage I brought to the table. 

Then I realized that shame was the silence. 

Shame was what I had mistakenly been taught. 

Shame was the silence hidden all around me that I could see but couldn’t articulate.

Shame was the tension. Shame was the unspoken.

Shame when you are a child is the fear in the actions and the eyes of the adults around you. 

Shame is becoming that same model of adult.

So in healing myself from the burning, suffocating hold of shame, I gave myself permission. 

I gave myself permission to talk about my experiences. 

I gave myself permission to get mad, to get upset, to cry uncontrollably.

I gave myself permission to ask questions out loud that didn’t have immediate answers.

I gave myself permission to grieve.

I took that little girl aside in my mind and I hugged her. I hugged her and thanked her for all her courage and her strength. I gave that little girl permission to forgive herself for not knowing any more than she could have known. I gave that little girl all the love and strength I could give her for being braver than anyone I had known back then. I made that little girl a promise before I let her go off.

I promised that little girl that I wouldn’t let it all be for nothing. 

I will keep the conversation going for my children and the other children. I will do my best to keep my children safe, but if I cannot keep them safe, I will empower them to know that they can speak the truth out loud.

 Little girls grow up to be strong women. NO SHAME.