Removing the Shame From My Inner Child

Removing the Shame From My Inner Child

by Christina Enevoldsen

When I was seven, I started classes in preparation for my First Communion. In the Catholic church, Communion is an expression of unity with Christ. Girls dress up like brides in white dresses and veils, symbolizing their purity.

While planning for the day, I insisted to my mother that I couldn’t wear white. Normally, compliant and well-behaved, I absolutely refused.

Reluctantly, my mother took me to Sears and we found a beautiful powder blue dress. I didn’t look like the rest of the girls, but at least I wasn’t lying to God by presenting myself as pure and holy. God knew what I was; there was no hiding it from him.

Compounded Shame

My strong will exasperated and disgusted my mom. Several years ago, when I confronted her about lying to me as a kid, she blamed me with, “Well, I didn’t really have a choice. It was the only way to control you since you were so strong-willed.”

And my First Communion dress was proof that she was right about me. I was selfish and obstinate and should be ashamed.

I carried that shame for most of my life. I bore the shame of my father’s sexual violation and then the shame of my mother’s disgust. I absorbed the badness of the abuse into my being. I thought the badness was me.

The shame expressed itself in self-punishing habits like denying myself life’s necessities and staying in abusive relationships. It dictated what I did and didn’t deserve. I deserved punishment; I didn’t deserve honor. I deserved criticism; I didn’t deserve respect. I deserved abandonment and rejection; I didn’t deserve attention or love.

I saw myself for so long the way they saw me, the way it was convenient for them to view me. I was bad so the way they treated me was justified.

It breaks my heart to know now what that little girl, my inner child, went through all alone. The heaviness of the false accusations, carrying my parent’s sins as though they were her own.

I want to say to my inner child:

I see you. You are worth seeing and knowing. I know you believe there is something flawed about you. I know you think all those things happened to you because you deserved it. But you never deserved it. Those things were unjust. You were innocent. And they were wrong about you.

I’m so sorry for how the shame isolated you. You hid yourself. You were afraid of being discovered as dirty and disgusting. I’m sorry for how you feared abandonment everyday, believing that you deserved to be alone. I’m sorry for how you believed you had to settle for being hurt and controlled in all your relationships because you thought that’s all “someone like you” could expect.

You were wrong about yourself. But you have nothing to be ashamed about for being wrong. You had to agree with them to survive. You didn’t have a choice. You got yourself through until you were safe enough to see the truth. And you see the truth now.

The shame was something you thought everyone could see, though you prayed everyday to be spared exposure. Now it’s different. You are sure of who you really are and it doesn’t matter if anyone else sees the truth. You don’t have anything to prove to anyone. You and I know the truth and that’s enough.

The truth is that there was nothing about me that deserves abuse. The shame was a manipulation to keep me compliant and controlled. It my abusers’ way of coping with their actions and relieving themselves from shame’s burden.

But it was never mine to carry. I didn’t have control of what others did to me. Those abuses were their actions, not mine. I have nothing to be ashamed of and I AM deserving.

Have you taken on shame from your abuse? How has it impacted you? Do you see the wonderful truth about yourself yet? Please comment below and contribute to the conversation. Remember to subscribe to the comments so you don’t miss any of the discussion. You can post anonymously and email addresses are kept private.

Christina Enevoldsen

I’m Christina Enevoldsen and I’m the cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse and the author of The Rescued Soul: The Writing Journey for the Healing of Incest and Family Betrayal. My passion is exploring new ways to express my empowered new life. I’ve recently discovered the joy of waterslides, the delightful scented lotion from Bath & Body Works, “Dark Kiss” and hosting princess tea parties for my granddaughters. My husband and I live in Scottsdale, Arizona and share three children and six grandchildren.

Related Posts:
Casting Off the Shame of Sexual Abuse
The Secret About My Abuse I Was Too Ashamed to Tell

Removing the Shame From My Inner Child
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13 thoughts on “Removing the Shame From My Inner Child

  • August 21, 2016 at 7:18 am
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    Thank you so much for this. I am much in the same. These words brought tears to my eyes but opened a door for healing to my heart to begin. I have felt for pretty much my entire life that I went through all I did because there was something wrong with me. I needed these words so much.

    Reply
    • August 21, 2016 at 7:27 am
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      Hi Amanda,

      That’s the thing–we all think that it’s us and we are to blame. I could see how innocent someone else was if they were abused but I didn’t see that for myself for a long, long time.

      I’m glad this opened a door for heart healing for you. Thank you so much for sharing!

      Christina

  • August 21, 2016 at 7:40 am
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    Thank you for this article. I understand all you have said on an intellectual level but still cannot connect with it. I have been told by my therapist that I will be doing some inner child work. I tried doing an exercise and just could not connect with that little girl. I could see her but could not feel that she was me. If you have any articles on this I would love to read them.

    Reply
    • August 21, 2016 at 8:35 am
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      Hi Dee,

      I had a lot of trouble connecting with my inner child at first too. I put all my self hatred onto her and I only wanted to hurt her, not connect with her.

      I haven’t written much on inner child issues in my articles, but I did in my book, The Rescued Soul and we go into it step by step in my eCourse, Accelerate Your Healing Journey. The next course is starting soon if you’re interested it that.

      Christina

  • August 21, 2016 at 9:29 am
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    Thank you for your article. I can absolutely relate but as much progress as I’ve made connecting to my Inner child I’m still afraid of her as well. Afraid of her strength, her beauty, her innocence because I still carry a belief that it was these qualities that attracted those who molested me to me in the first place. Still working through this fear of allowing her to be seen in all her grace and glory. What a struggle healing has been…sometimes it seems I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. Some insight on this would be great..thank you and lots of love to you.

    Reply
    • August 21, 2016 at 11:02 am
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      Hi Laurie,

      Yes, I can understand that too. For me, a huge part of working through that fear was learning to reparent myself, specifically in the area of being a protective parent. Getting good at fiercely protecting my inner child has allowed her to trust me and to come out in all of her glory without fear.

      That started in small ways like protecting her from critical people. Or I let her rest instead of pushing her to do something she was too tired for. Trust had to be built over time. I wasn’t perfect. There were a lot of times I let her down but I made progress little by little.

      Does that help?

      Lots of love to you, too! Thanks for sharing and thank you for your question. 🙂

      Christina

  • August 21, 2016 at 10:17 am
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    Hi Christina,
    Thank you for your powerful writing I can always relate too! You are doing great things for so many others. Yes learning to see myself and love my inner child has not been an easy process, but I know I have come along way in my healing. My husband was also a victim to abuse as well as his two sisters. There is still something he has not dealt with. I think when he is fearful he gets enraged, and takes it out on me and others. Making it hard to communicate with him. It is very hard for me. I know I need to talk to him I just haven’t felt strong enough to yet. And a big part me thinks it wouldn’t help. As he has more often then not blame me for so much. I need him to take sole responsibility for his rage. Because I’m tired of living this way. He has taken value and dignity away from me. And I’m more aware it now. I feel it every time he does it. I have put up with it far too long because that how I was brought up. It’s similar to what my dad did to me.

    Reply
    • August 21, 2016 at 11:10 am
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      Hi Ashley,

      Oh, I can relate to that about being used to that kind of abuse and then tolerating it in other relationships. That’s the way it was for me in my first marriage. There were a lot of similar patterns between my parents and my ex-husband.

      There’s a great book you might find helpful. I sure did. It’s called The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans. It helped me to recognize the abuse (since I was so used to it, it seemed normal or ‘not so bad’) and then it gave me tools to deal with the abuse.

      I’m sorry you’re in a relationship where your value and dignity is being taken away from you. My heart goes out to you. You deserve to be valued and honored.

      Thank you for sharing your heart.

      Christina

  • August 21, 2016 at 10:20 am
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    The child just has no way of knowing that she is taking on the sins of her parents. There is no way not too. EMDR is helping me go back and see how I was not protected as a little child. That the situations that overwhelmed me, were in fact because the parent or parents were unknowing. I don’t know how I will exactly reconcile the goodness of the inner child with who I am today. She is welcome. And now I will protect her and see her worth. I take lots of photos of beauty, most especially flowers. Maybe those Flowers are what she see’s. And I write. Children have such a connection with Spirit, with what is “Good”. There are many types of energies in this world. The unbriddled darkness of adults cause untold suffering to children. To survive is a blue ribbon life…..

    Reply
  • August 21, 2016 at 2:10 pm
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    I enjoyed reading your articles. I can totally relate. I have always questioned why the abuse happened to me. What did Ido? Why me? I didn’t know that other girls were abused too. I thought at first that it had only happened to me. After talking to other survivors then I learned different. Somehow knowing that it happened to other girls gave me a different feeling about myself. I am glad to have come across your fb page. Thank you. I, too wanted to help other survivors in Belize since I have spoken to other survivors who have worse stories than mines. And my abuse happened in Beverly Hills. But it happens all over the world.

    Reply
  • August 30, 2016 at 10:28 pm
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    lovely article

    feels in a way by takin on the shame and such as if i wa s less powerless, as if if i was causing this and deserving of this it was less painful and a little control was left

    now seeing through the illusions and healin the pain i stil feel quite raw

    it s hard to see that i m able to do things as just as you write i was called strong willed – and she d let me choose something only if it was set up for failure, so i ended up believing i was a loser and learned it was actuall y better to to rpesent me as such, it turned out ot be safer be it frustrating as well, still is

    i do hope seeing the truth etc will lessen the pain in time – cause this hurt at times feels as if it s devouring me

    Reply
  • November 24, 2016 at 1:46 am
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    I was raised with no father, other then the many men my mother brought home. I was molested by a boyfriend of my mothers, that she would leave me with. The most embarrassing part of that is at at age 6. I would choose to stay with him. I saw my 9 year old sister sexually abused by another one of my mother’s friends. My mother would bring men home often and allow them to walk around our home naked. She would have us sleep by her bed, while she did nasty things with men. I became religious, trying to pray my shame away. Trying to cover up the horrible things and images in my head. My mother tried numerous times to kill herself, which instilled in me more, her love of men and not us. I swore I would never be like her and for the most part I didn’t. My first of three husband, I let use me sexually. Because I tried to be the good wife and I felt obligated and feared abandonment. My second husband was no different. I chose again someone I believed I could control, but in the end I used my body to provide supposed safety and security to my 6 children. I thought sex was love, yet thought of myself as a prostitute. In my mind, I had to do this, because I had to give something and they wouldn’t want me otherwise. Ten years ago, I met my third husband. He was heavily into recovery from Codependecy. I’m happy to say, that I joined him. We still attend separately, weekly therapy to heal our traumas of the past. Along with meetings for Codepencey and ACA. Two months ago, I stopped my Cymbalta. Because I had healed so much. I realized that, I only stayed on it to numb my past and the triggers that childhood caused. I had thought my sexual abuse, things I saw growing up, and me basically selling my soul and body to my husband. Was still there. Without even knowing it, I realize I still struggle with intimacy. Whenever, my husband touches me in a sexual way, I’m angry. Even though our relationship is good. I still feel as if I’m only wanted for what I can give. He tells me everyday that I’m sexy and beautiful and it causes so much turmoil to rage in me. He’s not my old relationships, but I still carry the pain. The thought of having sex or being touched, kills me. All I can see is he only wants me for my body. I can’t sit next to him without him wanting something from me. I just want to be normal. I want to love and respect my body and be free to be with my husband intimately. Without feeling like that’s all I’m good for. I have distanced myself from him, even though he’s a loving man and we’ve been married 10 years. I guess it’s time to address this, because I want to be whole. I want so much to be close to him and be intimate. But I can’t. I start laughing out of the comfortableness, then I cry uncontrollably. I wonder if I will ever filled valued and safe enough to look into his eyes and be close to him. I wonder if I will ever feel whole and safe. .

    Reply
  • January 3, 2017 at 1:43 pm
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    You made me realize the answer to a long time question. Shame.
    I. always wondered why I always embraced pain then I know it because I always thought I deserve it.
    I need someone to talk to add me on whatsapp +2349030234033.

    Reply

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