June 13, 2019 at 12:52 pm #298979
What I am about to share is something that I feel guilt and shame for, and I am at a point in my life where I want to alchemize the shame and guilt into something, but I don’t know what it is I want to alchemize it too. Fair warning, I’m not holding anything back when I write this.
Trigger warning (sexual assault/OCD)
When I was younger (12-13) I touched my dad in his sleep. I’ve had intrusive thoughts as long as I can remember (earliest I had them was maybe 4 or 5) and around the time I was going through puberty and realizing that I was gay, so they began to come up as sexual and incestuous. I didn’t learn I had OCD until about a year or two ago, so when I was younger I was experiencing all of these thoughts that confused me, and I couldn’t tell if I enjoyed them or were scared by them. So in my own confusion, I touched my dad while he was sleeping. We never talked about it, but no doubt he knows because it lasted for a few minutes. I feel so much shame for it–mostly because after I did it I realized that I was scared and ashamed of the thoughts I was having, and did something that furthered the shame and guilt I was feeling. (Note: I am not trying to excuse my actions, but rather explain the context to them. I take full responsibility for them).
Fast forward to today, my dad and I have a closer relationship than we’ve ever had. And I feel incredibly guilty for that. Despite not talking about it, he knows what I did to him and he still chose to continue to love and support me anyway. It’s great, it’s all I wanted from him when I was growing up–but I feel like I don’t deserve it.
I am currently going through the process of detoxifying my soul, and this is one of the big steps for me. I am focusing on self-forgiveness, and participating in meditations that center around letting go of guilt and shame. I am also talking to a spiritual teacher (who doubles as my therapist) but I won’t be seeing her for about a month, and I have all this shame and guilt that I want to share but no place for it to go (hence, this post).
If anyone has any advice or guidance, I greatly appreciate it. Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a great day.June 13, 2019 at 2:40 pm #299039
Its sounds like you may have connected these past experiences with your sense of self. Its important to remember that You are not your thoughts or you actions, past or present.
With regards to Guilt and Shame: guilt is the feeling that you’ve done something bad, while shame is the feeling that you are bad. While you work through your past its important to recognize that some shame is deserved however most shame we feel and hold onto is undeserved.
Based on what I read I suspect the shame you feel and are holding onto is undeserved. You were a confused and young and if there was something that required ‘making right’ and forgiveness it seams you have been forgiven. The next step then is for you to forgive yourself and let it go.
I like what Lewis Smedes had to say about Shame (recommend his book Shame and Grace)
“Shame is heavy; Grace is light…. Shame says that because I am flawed I am unacceptable. Grace says that though I am flawed I am cherished. “
“The lightness of grace does not lift all the sandbags that drag the spirit down. It lightens life by removing one very dead weight in particular—the weight of anxiety about being an unacceptable person. It extracts the internal threat of healthy shame. It gives us courage to track down the sources of unhealthy shame, see it for the undeserved pain it is, and take steps to purge our lives of it completely. It sets loose the lightest feeling of life; being accepted; totally, unreservedly accepted…” – Lewis Smedes
June 17, 2019 at 7:30 am #299451
- This reply was modified 1 month ago by Peter.
Thank you for responding to this. The quote helped, I will look into the book.
I am practicing self-forgiveness and self-acceptance right now, and that seems to be transmuting the shame and guilt in me. But is it really ok to not talk to him about it? I don’t know how I would bring it up, but I don’t even know if it’s my place. Essentially, I want to take responsibility for my actions but don’t know how/where that responsibility ends.June 17, 2019 at 8:46 am #299453
Well done on being brave enough to share your story here, not easy to do when it’s something you feel so bad about. It’s great you have found a therapist and spiritual teacher who is helping you through these feelings, how amazing to be able to have both in the same person. Hopefully we can help you here whilst they are away, it’s a good, safe place to be able to share what you are feeling. It can also help just to get outside into nature for a long walk if you are able to when you particularly need to clear your head and have somewhere safe to let those negative thoughts free.
One thing I would say about whether to speak to your dad about the experience or not, is try to think through what you hope to get by doing so that you don’t already have. As I understand it, you feel shame about the experience and want to admit or ‘own up’ to what you have done, I am guessing with the aim of open acceptance/forgiveness. Understandable and admirable. The thing with your story though, is that actions speak louder than words and it sounds to me as though your Dad has clearly already understood and accepted it as what it was, an action of a confused child. If anything, he may feel guilt at not having known how to speak to you about it. You may feel you don’t deserve his choice to love you and accept you but I suspect that as much as anything that’s part of still learning to love and accept yourself, all of you, mistakes and all. Your Dad already does.
I assume he does know you are gay now? Perhaps instead of trying to bring up the incident, a way to discuss the topic if you still feel you need to may be simply to thank him for being so accepting of you, saying how confusing you found it growing up and how much it helped he was there for you then and now.
As you know, it takes time to heal – well done again on how you have come on your journey already. Happy to listen to what you want to share. Hope helps in the meantime.June 17, 2019 at 9:13 am #299459
Thank you, this really helped a lot. I was thinking of going this route because I’m learning about the importance of gratitude. He knows I am gay and that I had OCD, and he’s been really supportive in both my treatment and my coming out.
This all cane about again when I was sorting through my sense of loneliness. I realized I feel lonely specifically because I create a separation between me and other people by only focusing on what they have that makes them different from me (a learned behavior from years of being the only gay kid at my school and afraid to come out). And I think my deepest fear, as insane as it is, is the fear that I would be accepted. Because once I accept myself, truly, the painbody and the ego will have nothing to use against me to try and take control. I wont be governed by shame or pain anymore—and I think I’m oddly terrified of it so I think and do things that try to keep me in this area of pain.
I’m working on self acceptance and self love right now, so if you have any further suggestions I’d love to hear it!June 17, 2019 at 11:33 am #299489
Glad helped, love the little cartoon guy by the way!
The gratitude approach sounds good to me, it’s an amazingly powerful way to realise all the good already in your lfe.
As to the deepest fear of being accepted, I understand that one totally and I don’t think it’s insane at all actually. You only have to read a few of these threads to realise just how hard some people will hold onto their pain, the fear of change and knowing who they are without it being greater than the desire to let it go. After all, this pain and shame – it’s all you have been for so long, all you have known. It’s pretty well known that our cave-man like brains are still instinctively (un)helpfully wired not to want change, even if it’s good for them, preferring the safety of the familiar (even if painful) to venturing out to the unknown.
So like any fear, the best way is to face it – but gradually, at a pace that both pushes you when ready and supports you when you need it. It’s why it’s so great you have that teacher to help you along, especially with identifying the right fear/emotion to tackle, as it can often be difficult to figure out the real driver.
If it helps, both personally and when I’ve helped others face their fears the thing that has always helped the most has been small, concrete actions, small steps to feeling the fear and then doing it anyway. So if I was scared of heights, start on a small step and wait through the fear instead of expecting to get into a helicopter for a parachute jump on day one. You get the idea. For someone scared of true acceptance, both by themselves and others, start with something small. Perhaps your Dad if that feels safe enough. Or are there other areas of your life you still feel you are hiding your true self and could tackle first.
Even without your tough start, it’s hard for all of us at first to expose our real selves – the rejection is so much easier to handle if you don’t put the real you out there. But ( and trust me, I learnt this one the hard way… ) it’s so amazing when you do and you are truly accepted. And when you aren’t, you just learn that actually, you know what, the world didn’t end and you are still ok, still you. It’s all ok. And that’s hugely empowering stuff.
Where do you think you could start if you wanted to?