Thursday, September 8, 2016

Shame and Self Worth

While meeting with my therapist today she asked me to journal about some of the things we talked about in our session. I had just typed this in my personal journal, but felt prompted to share publicly.

I told her about the huge shame I had while attending The Togetherness Project conference two weekends ago. We were in Midway, UT, which is a much higher altitude than where I live, and I struggled physically. I was short of breath and sweaty with the slightest bit of activity. It caused me to feel so much shame. I felt like I was a burden on my friends. I didn't want them to have to wait for me or be embarrassed by me. I am sure that none of them felt that way, but I felt that way. They have never behaved in a manner that led me to think anything but that I am loved, it is all my own shame talking.

I feel like a failure when I think about how much I struggle physically. I fight my own food addiction every minute of every day. I am not active because it's embarrassing and painful how out of shape I am. This in turn makes it harder to become more active. It's a cycle that I struggle to break.

My shame about this is debilitating sometimes. I will retreat from others at times, or I will overcompensate at others. With those closest to me, my family, I will react in anger. Really these are all reactions to my own shame. This shame feels so suffocating it's as if I am covered in tar, only it's elastic tar. It clings to me and if I am only able to pull part of it away, if I am not able to completely break free, it rebounds back and envelopes me again. Shame is a physical as well as emotional barrier for me.

As we talked, I also told her about my recovery triad. I feel like my recovery is a triad, and a piece of it is missing so I am stuck in the other parts as well. To me recovery is a triangle or triad of the emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects of life. I feel like I have worked hard on the emotional and spiritual aspects but that I have neglected the physical aspects. Because of this neglect I have been losing ground in the other areas of recovery. It's the missing piece to truly being able to recover. For me it's also the most challenging.

My therapist had me notice how I was feeling and acting when I was talking about my shame, and how I was feeling and acting when talking about my triad. It was visibly different. When talking about my shame I spoke in a monotone and was more slumped down, it felt dark, oppressing, and hopeless. When I talked about my triad my voice was more animated, I used gestures to explain what I was talking about, I felt lighter and more hopeful. When I talk about my triad the physical component seems doable, rather than hopeless.

As we were talking about my relationships and my sense of emotional and physical abandonment, I was talking about my nephew. I have a great amount of love and protectiveness regarding him because of some challenges he has. When I was speaking about him she pointed out how empathic and compassionate I was regarding him. She also noted that I am that way with most people. I am. I have a heart that was made to love and accept others. It is one of my gifts. Why then, can I not turn that empathy and compassion towards myself? Why can I not be my own best cheerleader. The answer is both complex and simple. I do not feel worthy. That's what it all boils down to, I lack a sense of self worth.

I have learned over these last couple of years to find things about myself that I love. I am getting much better and recognizing my strengths. I also have had great moments of seeing myself as God sees me, as a woman of unchanging worth. My worth does not change in his eyes no matter what, and sometimes I believe this. Underneath it all though, I really struggle to see my worth and remember that it cannot be diminished. I am of value just because I am. That has yet to penetrate my inner core. Because of this lack of self worth, I am out of touch with my own body. I use it as a shell and often even as a hiding place, because I don't connect to it. It's as if it is a separate piece of me. This compartmentalization is because of the shame I feel about it.

I have made some commitments to aid in my physical recovery to myself, my therapist, and a couple of my friends. These commitments are small, and to most would seem simple and silly. To me they are BIG, they are scary, and they are powerful. I have made them knowing that I probably won't be 100% great at them all of the time. That's okay. There's where compassion comes in. I don't get to excuse myself from my commitments, but I get to have compassion with myself if I am putting in the effort and doing the best I can.

My physical recovery is going to be an uphill battle. It's going to require diligence and perseverance. It isn't however, hopeless. It is possible. I can do it if I surrender my shame and fear to my Heavenly Father. If I remember to see my worth through His eyes. I could write a novel about self worth, but until I truly take it in and make it part of me, it's only words. I am working to believe what I know is true, I have undiminished worth just because I am me.

More hopeful,


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