This excerpt is from the book, The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie:
December 6: Letting Go Of Shame
Many of us were victimized, sometimes more than once. We may have been physically abused, sexually abused, or exploited by the addictions of another.
Understand that if another person has abused us, it is not cause for us to feel shame. The guilt for the act of the abuse belongs to the perpetrator, not the victim.
Even if in recovery we fall prey to being victimized, that is not cause for shame.
The goal of recovery is learning self-care, learning to free ourselves from victimization, and not to blame ourselves for past experiences. The goal is to arm ourselves so we do not continue to be victimized due to the shame and unresolved feelings from the original victimization.
We each have our own work, our issues, our recovery tasks. One of those tasks is to stop pointing your finger at the perpetrator, because it distracts us. Although we hold each person responsible and accountable for his or her behavior, we learn compassion for the perpetrator. We understand that many forces have come to play in that person’s life. At the same time, we do not hold onto shame.
We learn to understand the role we played in our victimization, how we fell into that role and did not rescue ourselves. But that is information to arm us so that it need not happen again.
Let go of victim shame. We have issues and tasks, but our issue is not to feel guilty and wrong because we have been victimized.
Today, I will set myself free from any victim shame I may be harboring or hanging on to.
What stands out to me when I read this passage is the point about distraction. I was speaking with a dear friend yesterday who asked, “When do you know that you are done healing and now thriving?” I think that they are both simultaneous processes. When I find myself distracted by focusing on things that are out of my control, including perpetrators, that is when I have the opportunity for the most healing and am taking steps towards thriving. I would even argue that they are paradoxical, both simultaneously true.Further, when she said, “we learn to understand the role we played in our victimization, how we fell into that role and did not rescue ourselves. But this is information to arm us so that it does not happen again.” I am always triggered by this sort of statement, since I was two years old when I experienced my first physical abuse, and seven when I experienced my first sexual abuse. How can I recognize how I fell into that role at that age? What role did I play in that particular victimization? All I can say is that as a child, I was operating on pure instinct and developed the self-preservation behaviors then that kept me from being further hurt. Whether those behaviors were dissociation, cutting off my connection to my own emotions and self understanding, or freezing in the moment so as not to draw further attention to myself or be the catalyst for an even more violent attack… whatever that could have been. The role I played was an innocent. I fell into that role by simply existing (and turns out the Divine had something to do with it.) One of the trickiest conundrums with which I have battled is feeling self-compassion, recognizing that I couldn’t have done anything else than what I did. Even more tricky is feeling compassion for the people who committed these acts. Telling myself that they knew no better and were doing the best they could… That’s hard to accept, but easier in the long run than distracting myself with hatred, contempt and subsequently filling myself with shame. Walking this new path isn’t always easy, but it is freeing and each day I am thriving and healing, grateful and filled with joy and peace. That’s good news and something you can’t buy on Black Friday.
*cha ching* 😉
TuesDayNewsDay Vol. 1, Issue 9 December 3, 2018
Quote: “We love our lovin’ but not like we love our freedom.” – Joni Mitchell, Help Me
Song: Please Mr. Postman – The Marvelettes https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rGJcbHni4rc I am absolutely in love with the post office, the postal system, the loveliness of letters, the waiting, the surprises, my dear dear post-man up in Saxapahaw who is such a cool dude. I love that this song gets stuck in my head often, it makes me happy every time. I used to put the chairs up, sweep and mop the floor at Angelos Family Italian restaurant to the oldies station every night during my formative years – this, and Tears of a Clown by Smokey Robinson, are two of my all-time favorite songs.
Dedication: Today, I dedicate NewsDay to the brave families and souls approaching our border and immigrants in this country who receive violence, vitriol and targeting by some law enforcement (protectors of the state, not the people). I don’t believe in borders, I don’t love the idea of private property. I believe in a world in which I wished we all shared, loved, and appreciated each other, without war, violence, oppression, and hatred. What we stand for in this country is becoming more and more unbelievable to me. Tear gassing children? Oh dang… what’s for dinner honey? (http://performingsongwriter.com/bobbie-gentry-ode-billie-joe/ – “The song is sort of a study in unconscious cruelty. But everybody seems more concerned with what was thrown off the bridge than they are with the thoughtlessness of the people expressed in the song. What was thrown off the bridge really isn’t that important.” – in the context of “In August 1967, Lyndon Johnson announced that he was sending 45,000 more troops to Vietnam. Black power advocate Stokely Carmichael called for revolution in the streets. Beatles manager Brian Epstein died from an overdose of sleeping pills. But around water coolers, the hot topic was what Billie Joe McAllister and his girlfriend threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge.”
What we tolerate more and more, violence, killing, war, spewing of hatred, racism and bigotry from the president and his people is becoming more and more intolerable to me. The more I begin to love myself, the more capacity I am having for my social justice work. One step at a time. One day at a time. “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.”
Dear Humans: Today, on with the heart musings, music reflection, and grassroots organizing!
What a week full of blessings, starting out with sickness and ending in sobering realizations about intimacy, boundaries, projections and expectations (all can be wound together with a continuous thread.) The week entailed so many beautiful ups and downs in between.
Intimacy: Al-Anon was extremely well attended last week and we dove right into intimacy. Turns out, there are so many different kinds of intimacy, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, experiential, physical, and one more… can’t remember that one. Intimacy is a puzzle and a navigable path of give and take. The exchange can be personal, between two or more people, between you and your higher power, between you and a group, your village, your house, your cat (or dog, pig, duck, chicken, this list could go on…) My identification of intimacy was being myself without question, no second thoughts, comfort and trust to the point of sharing my inner feelings, thoughts, experiences, etc without fear of judgment or abandonment. Being that vulnerable with my higher power is SO alarmingly difficult right now. To get down on my knees and pray, with my hands on my head, head to the ground, praying Wednesday morning, there was humor and frustration. Speaking out loud, fumbling over the Serenity prayer, laughing with God saying, “You know what I mean…” Intimacy with a Spirit that cannot be seen, but felt, requiring faith and humbling surrender to accept. Funny enough, the word that would not come to mind in the Serenity prayer was “accept”. …and therein lies the serendipity of Divine Purpose. We can learn from our very words, or even our lack thereof.
Boundaries and Expectations: “I will not chase. I turn off my incessantly present search for love.” Looking forward to the full Moon just after the Winter Solstice, the intentions for implementation for this boundary are beginning to be put into practice. Being in the moment, simply noticing the energy and occurrences around me, is teaching me so much and providing so many eye-opening lessons. Deciding to go on dates, get to know people, having fun, being vulnerable, leaving behind the tendency to build an expectation of who someone is based on who I WANT them to be, versus who they ARE by paying attention to their actions is important to my healing and recovery from codependency.
Projections: My Mother. Bless her soul. She returns to my mind in most situations where I find myself frustrated, that familiar feeling of being out of control and wanting/looking for love/acceptance/validation in all the wrong places. I don’t have a relationship with my mother. We don’t speak or have any interaction at all. This week, someone else’s decisions were triggering and the whirlwind caught me. The pause escaped me. Self-awareness, lessons of Al-Anon, the last 11 months of EMDR and cognitive behavioral therapy fell right over the cliff of usefulness. I lashed out and reacted out of sheer desperation to be heard and justified in my anger. Lordy Lordy. When the needed evaluation of this reaction happened, thankfully the very next day in therapy, the realization was clear. My mother’s abandonment of me for sexual predators as a little girl had crept up from my limbic, animal brain with the decisions in question and caused subsequent accusations and judgement. Turned out to be a helluva good mirror for me to see myself afterward. Thank you struggle. Thank you newfound ability to be both assertive and direct. Bravery: you are appreciated. Difficulty of discernment: I see you. Choosing serenity, employing opportunities to grow, recognition of serendipity – all of these from just one incident in a small town.
Musical reflections: The benefit for SAFE was successful and heart warming. We raised $200 and had 3 full bins of food donated that night at the Eddy. The concert with Bruce was lovely. My grandparents and my adopted mom and dad Alexander came. Dear villagers and closest friends sat around in support. Truthfully, sometimes nervousness occurs. “Do they like my songs? Are my guitar skills are good enough? Am I singing on pitch? Is the sound good in this loud restaurant? Can they hear me? Do they care? Are they getting drunk and louder or is that just me?” These questions plague me for a moment. Then I get over it. It’s easy to get over it when I remember that as long as I had fun, I was honest, and I did my best, I can be happy with my music. That’s all that matters. PS: Watched “A Star Is Born” last night with Christine. Musically impeccable, heart-felt storyline, absolutely accurate portrayal of love and addiction, sad and beautiful, cathartic and moving – that movie floored me and at first I swore I’d never see it again because it was so hard to watch. Musical vulnerability was a prominent theme (hence the reference here) and the line that sticks with me is this, “If you don’t dig deep into your f***ing soul you won’t have legs. …If you don’t tell the truth out there, you’re f****d. All you got is you and what you have to say to people and they are listening right now and they’re not going to be listening forever. Trust me. So you gotta grab it and you don’t apologize or worry about why they’re listening or how long they’re going to be listening for. You just tell them what you want to say.” Right the f*** on. 😉
Grassroots: The sheriff’s department in Alamance County is at it again, trying to turn our jail into an ICE detention center. The takeaway from our attempt to hold a rally and press conference (highlighting the impact of this proposal on our community and especially for undocumented immigrants) was that the law enforcement of Alamance County and Graham were unnecessarily forceful, angry, threatening and rude to citizens trying to go to the county commissioners meeting that night. Intimidation tactics were used in barricading the sidewalk and corralling people in and out of the courthouse building. Many people felt afraid for their safety, as the local white supremacist group had shown up also, creating even higher tensions that evening. We weren’t allowed to stand on the sidewalk or on the front area of the courthouse while we waited for our friends inside who fit in the building. Later we found out that the police filled the back couple of rows of the meeting and were shouting and cheering in support of the sheriff’s department’s plan – when we as citizens are not allowed to make any noise in there at all, else we would be asked to leave or even arrested. Tensions are higher than ever over this ICE business in Alamance County and you best bet we will be monitoring the effects of this situation and making known its impacts on our local society. In visioning for 2019 advocacy efforts, the sheriff’s department of Alamance County, the federal ICE program, and the local white supremacist group will be a top priority.
Where’s the news? The concept of an independent news source in Alamance County has come to several of us as a seriously necessary resource for those in our community who do not feel heard in the traditional, local news media outlets. I am working the very beginning stages of formulating this newsletter/online news source as a place for stories of our collective experiences of racism, poverty, bigotry and even celebration ~ highlighted and shared amongst neighbors. Stay tuned, this is a serious project and as more developments ensue, I will share how you can get involved.
ALL that said, last week was wonderful and roller coaster-y. I was sick, went on a date, made a new cosmic friend, had a meeting with my sponsor, had a meeting and visioning session with my local grassroots organization, helped my students finish out their fall semester work, several coffee dates, played music for the SAFE benefit, planning for my upcoming trip to NY (Democracy Matters national summit in Feb), several breakfast dates, got to hear a dear friend sing for the first time at an intimate house concert, sent some difficult letters to people addressing my feelings, had some intense therapy working that stuff through, several lovely phone “catch-up” chats, went to see A Star Is Born and today helped out a friend. Told ya, packed week. ❤
#LivingQueryOfTheWeek : Who was your first literary crush? Mine was Bonanza Jellybean.
I’ll be singing in the shower tomorrow night before bed! Sold Out show!
Fri, December 14th – Singing with Radars Clowns of Sedation at the Kraken! Special Guest Will Easter – Last Clown show of the YEAR!
Wed, December 19th – #NightmareXmasPajamaJam – Crystal Bright headlining, Emily Musolino and Anita Lorraine opening! Special guests, Robert Griffin and many many more! PS Im going to sing my favorite xmas song, it rhymes with finch and is about a furry green creature who tortures a whole town obsessed with Christmas.
This week in pictures: