My Name Was Shame

Private, Keep Out

There’s an understanding among family that we don’t talk about that. “That”means subjects surrounding such feelings of shame that uttering the reminder is like stabbing and slapping someone simultaneously. Private, keep out. Not my hair shirt to launder.

old house from

We must respect people’s claims to their shames. They have experienced them and it’s just understood it’s theirs not yours. Until I’m included as complicit in someone’s addiction and self-hatred. Then I am infuriated by this request of silence.

old house from

Mine To Tell

Often the only choice in this situation is to either not be around this person and/or tell them you hate seeing them unhappy and you’ll say it every time you see them. Or to tell your own story of shame. This is mine.

old house from

I walked into the Police Station to file the report. The building was a beautiful Victorian Gothic behemoth ill-fitted with modern office accommodations. And my legs felt like lead. Hi, I’m here to file a report for spousal abuse, where do I need to go? Here’s the form, sit there.

old house from

Like having my soul and body trapped in tar, I was so slow and crushed trying to slog through. The shame was heavier than anything I’d ever felt. The police officers wouldn’t help me the night of the incident because, their words, typically abused women do nothing to follow-up their claims. I needed to go to the station and waste someone else’s time.

There I was, permanently recording for posterity, that I had married an abusive man and then continued to allow this man to verbally and physically assault me.  My name was Shame. After what seemed a century of writing out the details of a couple of events that brought me here, my leaden legs carried me out of the police station that day too.

Growth among the ruins from

It would be some time before the marriage would end. He was later arrested for not showing up for his rehabilitation at the House of Ruth. I bailed him out of this too even though I said I never would. It’s not over til it’s over. Or you’re over it. Only when I finally owned my choice to be a victim did I then have the power to choose to leave. Cutting your losses can be the hardest choice ever. And I never wanted to look back. Not until I knew that doing so would mean something. As my baby girl just turned one, it means a lot. Only in owning my bad choices, can I model choosing better ones.


20 Responses to “My Name Was Shame”

  1. Lauren says:

    What a brave, brave post to write and what a brave, brave woman you are.

  2. Melissa says:

    Young marriage…you were too young to really understand what you were consenting to besides sharing an apartment. Mistakes never define us they rebuild us with a finer core. I wish we were in touch when all this transpired, I could have provided safe haven- and kicked some major ass. The future is now, your daughter and son have a mom who has endured . Not everyone can say that. You always were brave, but you needed to prime that pump by yourself- and you did. Big fat high five on that one:)

    • Shalagh says:

      I like this Melissa. We all have to live it until we’re done with it. And now we have the nice husbands and the cute smart kids. Nothing better than finding the happiness beyond. Thanks so much for your kind and supportive words. Thanks for being a good friend.

  3. Adriana says:

    Bold and beautiful. ♡

  4. Hugs Shalagh. And thank you for letting me know you had posted this. Powerful title too, says so much x

  5. Shalagh,

    Don’t feel shame. Feel pride. Feel pride that you muscled up the strength and bravery to stand up for yourself. Feel pride that you are teaching your daughter to never let another person diminish her sense of self.

    Know that most all abused women do the same kind of things you did. I called 911 on my first husband when he punched me in the head while I was driving a car and he threatened to kill me in gorey detail. He took all of our money and filed for divorce. I took him back. I moved to Maryland with him. The abuse started up again after a honeymoon period. He ran away to Boston. I let him come back. When I finally called it quits for good, I lost most all of my personal belongings, and my homes. I went deep into debt paying for a messy divorce, my apartment and my half of the mortgage for a condo he lived in with his new girl friend. I had to quit my job because he worked there too and poisoned my whole career. I’d never felt so foolish in all my life.

    But just like you, I didn’t let him win. They can’t take us away from ourselves again, Shalagh. Never. Feel pride. You wear a dented armor, but you are standing, you are alive, and you are you.

    • Shalagh says:

      The word WAS shame. It hasn’t been in a long time. But I see shame around me and I wanted to offer the only thing I had which was my story. Your story is heinous sister and yet, I feel pride for both of us. Cause we got the nice husbands with the happy children. Happiness is all it’s cracked up to be.

  6. Suzanna Kellye says:

    I know how hard it must have been to write this but I also know from experience how cleansing it is to do so. You have moved on and your experience will allow you to teach your children. Your son to respect and honor women. Your daughter to know that she is worth that honor and respect. Love ya, sister!

    • Shalagh says:

      Yes, moved on along time ago and don’t feel the shame but That doesn’t quite complete the circle. Thanks so much for showing up with your big cuppa support.

  7. “Speak the truth even if your voice shakes.”

    You are a fierce, inspiring, and courageous woman. I’m so glad you are owning that by stepping into your truth. I imagine this was not easy to do. Thank-you for inspiring me today, Shalagh. Hugs.

  8. Andrea says:

    And your name now must be strength. xxx

  9. Jennifer says:

    Those lead steps were the first on your road to strength. Although it took you more time after that moment your heart knew you were destined for this life you’re living now. I’m so glad you took those first lead steps! (and how brave you are to bring it up now! xo)

    • Shalagh says:

      Thanks Jennifer. I struggle only with knowing which way to go. Never with telling the truth about where I’ve been. My life is pretty great now and getting better all the time.

  10. adamjasonp says:

    I missed this one, but I just had to come back and say how moving it was, how many women go through life not talking about their abuse. Glad things are much better now.

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