Thursday, January 19, 2012

The shame game

Imagine the bacteria.
I was ashamed, He called me I'm Yours, You call me beautiful. -  Forever and a Day

Here's something that's outrageously pitiful to admit (and probably reason why I'm single #192), I often lay down at night and my mind won't stop producing clever status updates.  It's obnoxious.  Sometimes, i just can't turn off the jokes.  The wheels in my heard are constantly spinning.  Unfortunately, the short term memory wheels are a little rusty these days.  They're pretty much, wait...what?

I also often think of what people think of me.  "What?", you say?  "The girl that feels the need to stick her head under high-powered hand dryers just for laughs...she cares what people think?"  I do.  And I think of what it is they're thinking.  Most of which they're probably not thinking at all, but in my head they are. And then I stress.

As an example of the absurdity, here's what it's like to be inside my head sometimes:

Jane Doe:  Hi Sarah, <insert ever awkward side hug here> where are the midget wrestlers?
Me:  "Heyyyy girl (cause I always have to say that)...they're with their dad today."
My brain:  Good one.  She's probably going to think you had them out of wedlock or something. Maybe you should say "ex-husband" next time.  Oh, but ex-husband sounds so...bitter.  She'll probably think you're some bitter divorcee, on the prowl for a new man, probably her husband.  Great.  

I often play this game with myself.  I'm sometimes embarrassed when people see me out in public, wrangling in two wild animals (children), with no wedding band on.  Oh, it's not so bad when the midget wrestlers are behaving like angels, but that happens (way) less often than I'd care to admit.  I feel like people eye my ring finger and think "tssk, tssk, tssk".

When I first started going to my new church, I was a little embarrassed by my marital status, or lack thereof.  No one there knew my story.  Many still don't.  Its not like you want to sign your kids into Sunday school, and promptly announce the reason for your divorce. It's not cool. And it's not necessary. Oh, but it's tempting.

You see, I thought I did everything right. Dated for two years. Went through pre-marital classes.  Took personality tests to analyze our compatibility. Got my dad's approval.  Got my pastor's approval.  Married in church.  Waited two years before babies.  Yet still, it all blew up in my face. And I think "how did I not see it?!" And then I feel stupid.  And ashamed.

I sometimes feel the need to justify myself.  Justify the divorce.  Explain that I waited over two years before I even went through with it. Explain his unwillingness to change. Explain the fact that I called my pastor in NY to get some counsel about it.  Explain how difficult asking my ex to move out was for me.  And a million other things I dealt with during that time (none of which are blog-appropriate).

During those times though, I often call that familiar verse to mind:  "Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame.  Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated... (Is. 54)".  

I have felt shame. And I most definitely have been humiliated.  Those times were moments though, not a state of being.  Not caused by my decisions.  And not who I am.  I know that I know that God and I have dealt with this.  I know that, to the very end, I honored my commitment to God and to my spouse.  I know that I received Godly counsel from my pastor in NY (which was a godsend, love you PJR and Evelyn!) and that it meant more to me than they'll ever know.  I know that the few friends I love and and respect and trust more than anyone in the world supported me.  God doesn't condemn me, so why do I feel like if others do, it matters? More over, why do I feel I condemn myself?  

Instead of lending myself to those feelings, I want to let my life speak in the here and now.  I can have joy. I can have peace. I can attempt to raise normal human beings.  I can speak to others going through similar situations, telling them there is a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel.  I can live without shame, leaving the past where it is, but appreciating all it has given to my present and future.


  1. Love it! Not a single reason to feel shame. You did do everything right! Including getting out of something that was poisoned. You are an amazing roll model for both of your children. Your divorce will have a much more positive spin on their lives and their future marriages than if you had stayed in something rotten and let your 'self' slip away as a result! (hug)

  2. I know exactly how you feel. I even went to the extent of going to a jewelry store and purchasing a ring for THAT finger that had three tiny stones to symbolize my kids. Why we feel the need to have that ring when we are out in public is so symbolic of what we deem to be acceptable and unjudged.

    Great post about shame.

  3. Wow. Tears for real. Such good stuff that sooooo many can take from, not just single parents

  4. Sarah you are an amazing woman, you are funny, your strength is amazing and you are a great mom. Your children are blessed to have you for their mother. I have had the pleasure of following your life for the past 6 years (can you even believe it's been that long?). You have shown so much grace throughout your ordeal and you have nothing to be ashamed of. The strength that you have shown and the example you have set for your children will be the pay off in the end. I love reading everything you post, you are an awesome lady who has some equally awesome children. You keep doing what you are doing!

  5. Sarah,
    You are my heroine! That post was not just for single parents (or parents, for that matter). Thank goodness I wear waterproof mascara.
    Thank you for sharing.

  6. you are so strong Sarah!

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  8. I can relate in SO many ways to this. Thank you for being so are ministering to way more than you know. I love you.

  9. A lot of those feelings are because of your age appropriate insecurity.....about age 40 you start thinking - I know who I am and "I don't give a crap what you think." Never mind what how you feel by age 50!!!


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