For so many people, there is a weight of shame attached to growing up in a broken home and with broken family relationships. The shame of not knowing your biological parent(s). The shame of not being close as a family. The shame of dysfunction, addictions, secrets, abuse, incarceration, depression, etc. We feel like there is a red stain on us that says, “I’m not worthy. I only know brokenness. I’m ashamed of my family so I’m ashamed of myself…” I deeply understand this feeling. I too felt embarrassed and shameful. I overcame this by understanding this…
I don’t need to feel ashamed for other peoples choices. That’s first. My parents are who they choose to be because of them, not because I’m not worthy of love, not because I’m not enough, not because I did something wrong. As children, the response to internalize our parents behavior is natural, but as adults we can release the “it’s because of me” story and understand their choices aren’t about us, it’s about them. I can’t control, change, or fix my family. So I stopped making myself belief I could and that somehow, who they were was my fault. I stopped over-explaining my family life and just accepted it for what it was.
Secondly, no matter how dysfunctional or broken I felt my family was, I learned there was someone who had it worst. Don’t get me wrong, all things are relative but if I could be honest I couldn’t image going through what I’ve seen others experience. Also, ALL families have their challenges. The people you think have the most perfect situation have their struggles too. You don’t have to feel ashamed that your family is less than perfect, everybody’s family is!
Third, I got honest with myself about how I felt. Instead of covering my emotions with shame, I looked at what I was feeling underneath. Disappointment, anger, resentment, sadness, confusion. Addressing what I felt underneath the shame gave me the space to truly heal and openly discuss my experiences. No one could “step on my toes” about my family life, I wasn’t sensitive about it anymore. But I also stopped opening up to everyone too. I couldn’t talk to just anyone about my experiences. Some people just don’t get it. I guarded my heart and only spoke to people who I trusted to supported me.
Lastly, I forgave everyone for everything. I accepted that they did they best the could with what they knew. Before your parents were your parents, they were men and women just like you and I with imperfections and flaws. They can only give the love they have.
You don’t have to carry this weight. If you are still struggling with understanding how to release shame please feel free to email me!
Light and Love,