When I was in elementary school, I was molested by a family member. That same family member introduced me to porn for the first time. That was just one occasion too, but I can never forget those two things. They’re stamped in my brain.
After those events happened, I felt ugly and dirty. I had a stain on the inside of me that I couldn’t escape. As I got older, I started becoming afraid that if people got to know me, they’d see what I saw and run the other way. I became so insecure and down on myself that I couldn’t affirm myself unless someone else did it first.
I got good grades because I saw how proud it made my parents, and I figured if that’s what it took to make them love me, I’d do it all the time.
I was a super strict vegan and was super religious and “holy” because I thought God would love me more if I did those things.
When I got married, I asked my husband’s opinion about every little thing and second and third-guessed every decision I made because I was scared of messing up in any way.
All my life, I had to be the good girl because it was the only time I felt like a person of value.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was struggling with toxic shame.
You see, when someone suffers from shame, they can’t distinguish the acts they commit, or the acts done to them, from themselves. In their minds, they think, “I’ve done something bad, so I am bad. I am a terrible person.” Or if they’ve been the victim of abuse, they may think this way, “I must be a terrible person for them to have treated me that way.”
That’s exactly how I felt. I thought to myself, “I’ve been molested. I’ve watched porn; therefore I’m permanently stained and damaged. I’m unlovable.”
No matter what has caused you to feel toxic shame-abuse, rape, criticism from others, poverty-you are NOT your past. You can be free from your shame.
Acknowledge the source of your shame.
Until I acknowledged my shame, it had power over me.
It wasn’t until I had been in therapy for 6 months that I was finally able to pull the curtain back on my thoughts and emotions and pinpoint those memories and the pain I associated with them.
I finally got the courage to tell my therapist about being molested. I could barely say the words out loud. I had never told anyone, not even my husband, about what happened.
That’s the day my life changed for REAL and the weight I had been carrying fell off.
2. Allow yourself to grieve.
When I started explaining what happened to my therapist, my throat got really tight, and the tears started flowing. I felt like I was watching myself as a little girl all over again in my mind.
It’s okay to feel sad about the things you’ve done, or the things that have been done to you. Let yourself feel the pain. Allow yourself to relive that moment and feel what you felt when it first happened, because that’s when you’ll finally be able to start letting it go.
3. Develop compassion for yourself.
We’re only human. And nothing we do can make God love us any more, or any less. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Unfortunately, we live in a sinful world. Our hearts and thoughts naturally turn toward things that are corrupt. Naturally, we’re enemies of God in our minds. So some of us may have been victims or even perpetrators of evil.
But God has compassion on us, and He forgave us freely.
We need to do the same for ourselves. We need to forgive ourselves.
When I talked to my therapist, I told her I felt angry with myself too, for not doing anything to stop the molestation from happening.
She asked me a simple question: “What could you have done?”
“I could have said no. I could have told my parents so he wouldn’t have gotten away with what he did.”
But as I said it, I realized how irrational that sounded. It wasn’t until I said it out loud that I realized I had been taking my molester’s guilt and placing it on myself. I finally understood and accepted that what happened to me wasn’t my fault, and I didn’t have to blame myself anymore.
That day, I became free, because I finally developed compassion for myself instead of blaming myself for the things I couldn’t control.
4. See yourself the way God sees you.
You are a masterpiece. I’ll say it again. You are a MASTERPIECE. There’s nothing you, or anyone else can do, to make God see you any other way. You can take a $20 bill and crumple it up, jump up and down on it, but guess what? It hasn’t lost it’s value. You can still take it to McDonald’s and get you some food. How much more true is that of us, God’s own children?
5. Get professional help.
I can’t say enough how much going to therapy has helped me uncover the broken pieces of myself and heal from the inside out. My marriage is so much happier. I mean, my husband and I had really good communication and an amazing friendship before that, but he could see that there were things in me that made me super insecure and down on myself. Now, my marriage is on another level simply because I’m happier. I’m finally comfortable in my own skin, no matter who’s around. I’m okay with myself messing up.
We couldn’t afford therapy at the time, but we made sacrifices to make sure I was able to get the help I needed. It’s by far the most important I’ve ever made in myself.
What will your choice be?
**This article was a snippet from my new e-book bundle “Love From the Inside Out.” To find out more about how you can get it, click here.