"is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging." - Brene Brown
Do you know where shame stems from?
Most of the pain we feel from childhood we carry as adults. At one point in our early years we might have made a mistake, gotten in trouble, been ridiculed, felt embarrassed, and thus created the existence of shame within ourselves. It could have been something big, but it could have been something very small.
For me there was this fear of being vulnerable.
A week ago I received an energy healing, and the healer described my throat to have what appeared as a brick wall or blockage. For those who are not too familiar with the chakras, I will save my woo-woo talk, but will share that the throat chakra is all about expression and speaking your truth.
Mine has been blocked probably since I was in elementary school. Each year I chisel away at it, but I haven't been able to put the wall down completely. It has not felt safe to do so. There is this fear that is blocking me from sharing my true feelings at times. A fear of being misunderstood, but a fear of feeling alone.
Shame. It is this returning feeling that I don't want to admit exists within me, but it does. No matter how many times I tell myself I am worthy I am still holding myself back.
For this week, I designed a plan for myself and I want to share it with you too. Any shame that exists today within ourselves, no matter what brought it up, has been there longer than we have known. But it's never too late to work on it.
Inner child work is not easy. Processing takes time and energy.
I have decided that each week I will pick a new memory to process, and in using that memory I will write a letter to my childhood self.
There is a psychological reason why we remember the things we do, and it really isn't that complex.
For me, I remember silly things from my childhood like a boy stapling his finger in kindergarten class, or a time I was embarrassed to have forgotten my homework. Sometimes I chuckle, like why of all my childhood are these the first few things to come back to me? Whether it was my empathy for that injured boy, or being hard on myself for not doing my homework- these little things can heal my self-talk today, if I acknowledge them.
An example letter..
Last week I chose to write about a memory that even today I laugh at, and look at it to be a "pathetic" version of me. It was a memory of elementary school music class. I had a cold, and my nose was running, but I was so painfully shy that I was too scared to get up from my seat and get a tissue from the other side of the room. Instead, I shamefully wiped my nose on my sleeve.
In writing to "little Haley" I offered her compassion, support, and understanding. In a weird way, years later it was exactly what I needed.
Inside your head you are feeling weak, pathetic, and disgusting. You are afraid of what they're thinking if you stay, and you're afraid of what they'll be thinking if you move. I know, I hear you. I hear your fears loud and clear and they are safe with me. You don't know why it's hard to be seen, you just know that it is. You feel invisible. I'm here to tell you, you are not. People see you, in the ways you want them to and not in the ways you fear they will. They see you as kind-hearted and gentle, and that may not seem like enough, that may not seem like it matters, but it does. You may not feel strong, but you are, and your heart carries your strengths. Right now, all you can focus on is that tissue box. To get there you have to raise your hand, or just stand up. You have to say excuse me to the kids in front of you, and you have to walk behind where the teacher is standing. You sniff in instead, wiping your nose on the sleeve of your shirt. You feel anxious and afraid and you want to leave but you feel so stuck. I want you to know you are being held. You are not alone. Right now, that person is me holding you closely and caring for you. If sitting still makes you feel safe that is just what we will do, and I will sit here with you. Though, If you so choose, I will also be there with you as you anxiously get up to blow your nose. It may feel like every eye is on you, but please know you are not the only one to have that feeling, and those eyes you are afraid of could be afraid for the same reason. You have a gift that allows you to notice everyone and every subtle detail, so it is no question why you would think others do the same to you. But Haley, not everyone can. Their minds are elsewhere. They are not as intuitive, as thoughtful as you are. You are safe. You are okay. You are absolutely okay. Whether your fear is making noise or tripping, nothing is as bad as it may seem. These feelings are uncomfortable but they will pass and later today you will be back in your bedroom reading books on fairies and going outside in the woods with your best friend Hannah. Your imagination will take you away. But right now I need you to listen to a voice telling you you are not weak, you have absolutely no idea (yet) what you can and will accomplish. You are not pathetic, you are in fact, wise beyond your years. And what you feel now is valid. Your feelings do not make you any less worthy, any less important, any less intelligent. Someday you are going to walk out to something much bigger than a tissue box, and you will be ready, and you will be amazed at what you have done. I can see it, you may not be able to yet. Just know that I will be holding you and loving you as you are, along your journey getting there and beyond. You are not alone, you are safe with me.
This past weekend my aunt sent me online albums of old photos. I spent hours looking at the memories and pictures of myself. In almost every picture..I am making a funny face. I am extremely expressive, with huge smiles and am carrying myself with such confidence and joy. It is healing to remember that side of me too. I can so easily remember the shy, the anxious, the quiet version of me. Though, there are so many positive traits that have been there all along too. They should all be celebrated.
Interested in practicing inner child work through journaling? I invite you to share in a supportive space! :)
A Boston social work student, using writing for healing. Sharing the peaks and valleys of an empath's mental health journey.