Shame on Me

Some Day

“Tell me again,”
I say and they do,
“It’s not your fault.”

I picture them in my mind,
my husband,
my Bishop,
my therapist,
my friends

I see the words on their lips,
I hear their words with my ears.
“It’s not your fault”

But my heart
. . .does not hear
The little child in me
. . .does not see. . .

Somewhere deep inside,
…I know
It was my fault,
and I need
to be Punished.

“Tell me again,” I say. And they do…
Some day I will believe them.
Some day,
. . .but not today

I wrote this poem in April 2010.  Later in Dec 2010, I wrote that I had at last overcome the shame and the belief that what happened was my fault. Not too long after that, they came back and have been my companions ever since. 

I like to think of myself as a critical thinker, and yeah, it bothers me to have such an irrational thought consume me the way it does.  I was a child, it wasn’t my fault.  On the surface, rationally, I know that is true.  But in the deeper processes of my mind, the man behind the curtain, or rather the child behind the curtain says it is.  That is all that matters.

Because the child says it was my fault, I don’t do a lot of things I used to love.  Recently I was asked to say one of the prayers in church.  No.  I didn’t even have to think about it.  I can’t do it.   Give a talk, or a lesson?  Nope, forget it.  Recently I was asked to substitute in my 6 yr old son’s Primary class (it’s like Sunday School for children).  I tried to wriggle out of it without explaining my situation.  How could I explain that I could teach 6 yr olds science maybe, but religion, nope.  Forget it.  Because the teacher seemed a bit desperate, I agreed to do it.  Then I twisted my husband’s arm to take my place.  While he taught, I supported him by sitting nearby and smiling.  (Incidentally, during class my friend Josh’s daughter said the funniest thing.  You can read about it on his blog.)

I wish I could end this post by telling you, especially those of you that have experienced the same kind of trauma, what the answer is.  But I’m sure I don’t know.  I don’t think it is a question that can be answered in 1000 words or less anyway.  According to The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook by Glenn R. Schrialdi, overcoming the shame and guilt is one of the reasons that the memories need to be recovered and processed.  He believes that healing can happen.  For now, I’ll take his word for it.  I highly recommend his book, by the way.

In order to reconcile my illogical emotions, with my logical mind, I prescribe chess.  Anyone up for a game?


  1. Leslie, I wish I had words to say that would help. But just know there's someone else out there only on the periphery who is hearing your story and feeling sympathy, and hoping for the breakthroughs.And on the entirely less appropriate end of the spectrum . . . *squeee* — you know Josh Weed? I've become addicted to his blog and I read that story the other day! Just didn't click on the link to your blog or I would have realized. . .Another bit of randomness from me — I was just telling Carrie yesterday that whenever I read your blog I think of her, not because she is our connection, but because the colors on the background of your blog are the exact colors she used to decorate her room when I first met her back in junior high.

  2. Oh and I didn't realize this was going to show my alias. In case you didn't figure it out, this is Kristina, Carrie's friend — and don't even bother clicking on the blog links please, they are ancient and kinda embarrassing! 🙂

  3. Thanks Kristina, being heard and understood means a lot! Too funny about Carrie's old bedroom. I never imagined her as a "pink person". :)About Josh, yes, I am fortunate to have him as a friend. He has been a great support to me throughout all of this.Arica, thank you! That means alot. I am so grateful for your continued friendship.

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