They say, “Shame dies when stories are told in safe places.” While that might be true, I believe that shame is conquered when stories are shared in places that might not be safe. When I used to share my story, I was selective over who was privy to that information. My confession was calculated. After years of carefully controlling who knew my story and to what extent I found myself at a standstill in my healing. I was not challenging myself anymore. I realized If I only told my story to those who supported me and encouraged me then all I was doing was fueling my own ego. I was protecting myself from possible scrutiny and judgement. None of that is wrong and I think that it is important for birth mothers to surround themselves with people who are going to support them, but I was at a point where it wasn’t serving me anymore. I knew I wouldn’t grow if I kept telling the same story to the same type of people. It was just another way for me to control my narrative because I was still so focused on what other people thought of me, a birth mom. I needed to have faith and take that next step.
So I started sharing my story with unfamiliar audiences. I started taking more risks and being open about my experiences without trying to control what others thought of me. I had to let go of the idea that everyone should like me, and that I needed to prove them wrong. I needed to accept that no matter what I do, no matter what I say, there is always going to be someone in the room who won’t like me or approve of my decision. This is when my healing went into overdrive.
The idea that I needed to impress everyone was just another way shame was keeping me captive. Shame was this lingering beast that snuck into my life in ways I wasn’t aware, and it affected every relationship I had. I overcompensated in many ways and for what? For praise and self-idolatry? I needed to prove to everyone else that I was okay and I felt I needed to make up for what I had done. This self-induced punishment only pushed me further from His glory and made me focus on my own shortcomings; not on what I could accomplish if I just let go.
The freedom I felt once I started to let go of the control shame had on me is hard to describe. The world seemed gentler, less intimidating. Letting go of the shame made room for empathy and understanding. My heart grew softer and I could feel God’s presence more because I wasn’t so consumed with what everyone else saw or thought. I made room for His love.
This isn’t to say I don’t still experience moments of shame. Because I do. But they are few and far between and fleeting. Shame has no ground to stand on anymore in my life. It kept me quiet and timid for too long and I know that’s not what God wants for me. Shame made things foggy, but the freedom from it has made my path much clearer and my trust in the Lord is more secure because I’m no longer letting shame dictate how I navigate my life.
I never thought I’d reach this point in my adoption journey. But now I can’t imagine it any other way.