“The journey of descent consists of encountering your shadow many, many times. Emotions as intense as shame and guilt give themselves up only a bit at a time-and you wouldn’t want more”Deepak Chopra
Whenever you are ready to pivot and transcend to a new level in your life, whatever you cannot bring with you will be brought to the surface for a clearing, and then a release. A few nights ago, I woke up at 3am. Which is odd, because when I go to sleep at night, I do not wake up until my alarm goes off. But I woke up laughing. I randomly thought of the selfie picture that Layla took while my dad was sleeping years ago. Whenever I see that picture, I crack up laughing. It just brings me so much joy
But then another memory randomly resurfaced. I was 16 years old and had just made the basketball team. I made plans with a couple of my teammates to meet up at the YMCA that Saturday afternoon to practice. I asked my parents if I could go and they said yes, but they couldn’t give me a ride there, but they would pick me up. They said I should take the bus. That Saturday I walked to the bus stop and waited for the bus. While waiting for the bus, a man pulls up to the curb in his car, rolls down his window and says, “Hey! Why do you have on all those colors? You have on a yellow jacket and an orange bookbag. That does not match.” I was really thrown off and offended by his comment and it must have shown on my face because he quickly said, “I’m just playing with you beautiful, where are you going, do you want a ride?” Right at that moment the bus pulled up and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
I got on the bus and sat down really confused about what just happened. What grown man insults a young girl he doesn’t even know? Is there something wrong with my coat and bookbag? He embarrassed me and made me feel badly about myself. I began to wish I had never agreed to go play basketball. I should have just stayed home. I felt alone and ashamed.
When I got off at my stop to walk the 4 blocks to the YMCA I hear someone yelling to wait up. It was the same man who approached me at the bus stop. He had followed the bus and waited for me to get off. He then parked his car and ran to follow me. Now I was scared. Who does that? He said he was sorry for talking about me and wanted to know where I was going. I felt obligated to answer. What if I didn’t? I didn’t want to make him angry. I could tell he was much, much older than me because he had a full beard. I decided to play nice and talk and walk with him until I could get to the YMCA. I told him I was going to the Y to play basketball. He sounded impressed. “Oh, a pretty girl like you plays basketball. Do you have a boyfriend?” I answered no. Then he said I had chinky eyes like a cat. He told me his name and said that he wanted to spend some time with me. He said that he would show me a good time, that he knows how to use his tongue. I didn’t say anything. We had made it to the YMCA and again I felt relieved. He wrote his number down on a piece of paper and told me to call him. He then turned around and started walking back. I never told my parents or anyone what happened.
That was in 2001. I have thought about that moment from time to time over the years, but why did it come up at 3am right after I laughed my heart out? I realized my subconscious prepared me by replaying a happy memory before it brought up this repressed memory, to ensure I was better prepared to manage it. On that Saturday, my spirit was entrenched with shame and self-blame. I blamed myself for wanting to go play basketball with friends. I blamed myself for wearing such bright colors and bringing unwanted attention to myself. I blamed myself for being an easy target. This type of attention from grown men wasn’t foreign to me. It had to be me. I was the constant with every encounter. I deserved this. Shame entrenched. Self-blame entrenched. That experience caused me to retreat into myself further. I used to love wearing bright colors that maybe didn’t entirely match. I used to love wearing those inexpensive gold rings on every finger from King of Diamonds that were buy one get one half off. I used to love wearing different clips in my hair. But I stopped all of that. I didn’t want to be seen by anyone, especially men. Whatever I did that made a man follow the bus and wait until I got off, I didn’t want to do anymore. I began to hate myself and how I looked. What are chinky cat eyes? Shame Entrenched. Self-Blame entrenched. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t feel worthy of protection. I didn’t feel worthy enough to have anyone be outraged at my mistreatment.
Shame, Self-Blame, Self-hate, Unworthy
At 3am, all of this resurfaced from my subconscious. I have been carrying shame and self-blame. I have been carrying self-hate and feelings of unworthiness in varying degrees for almost 22 years. I have been hiding, not wanting to be seen, dressing, and carrying myself in an obscure, please don’t notice me type of manner. The men who found me still, I allowed to insult me, disrespect me, and use me the same way that man did. I saw myself only being worthy of a predator. Because do you know what? I called him and he was the very first man that performed oral sex on me.
It all resurfaced. Because I am at a pivot point in my life. I can’t bring this shame, self-blame, self-hate, and unworthiness into my future. So, it has to be resolved and then released. I still see myself as that 16-year-old standing on the bus stop that day. I have lived with this distorted and false narrative of who I am for 22 years. I can’t be this person anymore. I can’t live that lie anymore. I have to release this shame. I always tell people, healing is layered. When you heal one layer, here comes the next. I swear this has to be layer number 2,675. Seriously! How much more is there lol.
But I give thanks! My heart is overflowing with gratitude. God, I thank you for keeping me that day. God, I thank you that man didn’t snatch me. God, I thank you that when I made the poor choice to see him, I survived yet again, and he didn’t penetrate me. God, I thank you for bringing me this far. God, I thank you for grace.
Ancestors, I thank you for bringing this to the surface through my subconscious. I thank you for always pushing me to heal and face my deepest darkest truth with a bravery and valor that you’ve instilled into the very fabric and core of my DNA.
Kathleen, I thank you. I thank you for doing the tough inner work that is required of you. Thank you for never giving up on yourself. Thank you for loving yourself even when you didn’t know you were. Thank you for forgiving yourself. Thank you for holding on when all you wanted to do was let go. Thank you for remaining soft and open hearted. Because of that you have a child and man who you can freely explore and experience the depths of true love with.
With gratitude and thanks, I will lovingly release the shame entrenched as many times as I need to for however long I need to, so that I can fully embrace this next level that is waiting for the healed, whole, and happy version of ME.