|Image credit: mauricebroaddus.com|
This is something that’s been on my mind and heart a lot since the retreat, and after seeing a post written about a similar topic, I decided to blog my thoughts and feelings.
I’ve been carrying a lot of shame inside about my decision to be a birthmother. I didn’t realize how much until I confronted the fact that I might be carrying some at the retreat. One of the ladies, Heather B., addressed shame during her breakout session on Saturday. She equated things that we have shame about to stones. Sure, one thought of something we’re ashamed of may not be a lot. But each thought can build up and end up being quite a weight to carry around. If we think we’ve set the shame aside and haven’t really taken care of it, we can trip over it again. Or we can put it away and then take it out again when we “need” it.
I have had shame about the decision I made. I feel shame that I didn’t try “harder” to raise my daughter. I feel shame that I didn’t think longer about how I could make it work and whether I really wanted to parent. I have questioned during the most difficult times of grieving if I made the right decision or not, and I have felt ashamed at the time of my questioning my decision. I feel shame and worry that she might grow up not only knowing who she is, but who she came from. I feel ashamed that I didn’t start the grieving process that we all must go through at one point or another as soon as I felt I should have. I feel ashamed that because of circumstances beyond my control, her aparents didn’t get to start their bonding process with her until she was almost 2 months old. There are a myriad of other things I’ve carried shame about, but those are the main ones. The biggest “stones,” so to speak.
So how do I get rid of those “stones of shame?” How do I make sure that I’m not only not carrying them around anymore, but that I’m not setting them aside only to pick them back up again at a later date? I have felt more than once that I “need” to have guilt and/or shame about something, and that I thrive on that negative feeling. I’ve felt shame about being content. But I also believe that God doesn’t want me to live with shame and the guilt that comes with it. Whether you believe in God or not, or even a higher power of some sort, I know that it’s not healthy for anyone to carry around shame and guilt.
We can ask other people for forgiveness. We can ask God. But we, me included, also need to forgive ourselves. That’s where the true healing comes in. That’s how I will get rid of the stones of shame that I’ve carried around about my daughter’s adoption.
Every day I will make the decision to forgive myself. It’s not going to be an instant process. It may be a lifetime one as I deal with watching my daughter grow from afar and not daily and even hourly like I “should be” doing. But I will remind myself when that shame and guilt starts creeping back in that I’ve forgiven myself for my decision and that constantly dwelling on the shame isn’t going to change the decision or make it any better.
What about you? What shame about your own adoption situation are you still carrying around, and how are you going to forgive yourself?