By Nancy Joy Hefron and Ezekiel
Shame is awaiting your willingness to stand naked before yourself and accept everything you see.
It was a beautiful sunny October day in Madison, New Jersey where I spent the early years of my life. I attended Green Village Road School where my sister and brother had both gone before me. I remember this particular day. I was in the 3rd grade so I suppose that would make me about seven or eight years old. In many ways, I am sure at the time, I felt this was much like any other day. I do not recall any details before I got a note from the office that said my mother would be picking me up for lunch. I was very excited, as this was not the usual routine. I always brought my lunch, ate in the cafeteria and played out on the playground until the bell rang to come back and complete the school day. From this point on my memory has become very clear, for on this day I had my first encounter with deep shame. Shame is a word that remained buried in my subconscious until over 40 years later when, in my personal growth work, I began to uncover some very old sabotaging patterns based on shame. I am quite sure at the time; I had no idea what shame even meant. Perhaps I had heard the phrase, “shame on you!” over and over again as most small children often do, but it had very little substance to it until this day.
Green Village Road School was built into a hill and, back in the l950’s, a long drive lead into a circular driveway where cars lined up to drop off and pick up students. I actually took a public bus with my sister, which left us off at the bottom of the hill so it wasn’t very often that I looked for the big white car my mother drove. On this day, however, I ran quickly past the cafeteria where all my friends were headed, feeling very special. My Mom was coming to take me to lunch. I pushed the bar across the big double door of the red brick building and felt as if I was free and about to embark on an exciting adventure. The trees were in their full fall color. It was a somewhat warm Indian summer day. As I glanced at the cars parked on the circle, there was Mom. I picked up my pace to reach the car as quickly as I could. Pulling open the door, I threw myself inside with a big smile on my face. It didn’t last long. My mother sat stiffly behind the wheel informing me that she was VERY unhappy with me and that we were on our way home to face the music. That is all she would say. She occasionally gave me disapproving glances but would say no more. I quickly stopped asking, sensing I was only making matters worse. I could not imagine what I had done, but something felt terribly wrong. I was feeling that I was the cause of something so awful my mother could not even speak of it. Isn’t it interesting how joy can shift to fear in an instant? I had a very uncomfortable 10-minute drive home to 54 Shadylawn Drive where I had lived since I was born.
I could take this time to tell you all the wonderful memories I have of my mother, who was truly a remarkable woman, who shaped my life in many positive ways, but on this day she was about to shape my life in a way that it would take me years to unravel. I am learning in my practice and with my clients that you do not have to be severely abused to create a mental pattern that affects your life and your decisions in so many ways. On that October day, however, I just wanted to shrink down into the car seat and disappear. Finally we turned into the drive and I could not decide if I was relieved or even more frightened. She stopped the car and, as I was getting out of the passenger side, she was soon by my side pulling me into the side door of the house by my arm. By this time her demeanor broke and she was shouting at me. I cannot say that I remember the words but she was very angry. She pulled me up to my room. There was a leather top desk in front of a window where just the night before I had created a farm scene for a school assignment out of colored paper, crayons, paint and that famous paste that smelled like cookie dough.
She slammed her hand on the desk and screamed at me “How could you do this to me. Shame on you. Look what you have done to this beautiful antique desk. It is ruined. I don’t get to have anything nice. You ruin everything! You don’t care about anyone but yourself.” Again, I am sure the words were not exact but this is how my little girl recalls the scene. She carried on for quite some time. I can’t say I remember much physical violence other than her usual slap across the face as I tried to speak. I cannot even recall my response. I do remember, however, that she ended up on her hands and knees beating the floor with her fists. All my emotional body recalls of that infamous afternoon is that I was the cause of my mother’s pain. I didn’t know it then, but the seed of shame that had been planted in me perhaps many times before had sprouted that day and had begun to grow. Somehow, in the distant reaches of my past, I began on that sunny October afternoon, to build a wall around me so no one else would ever discover how shameful I truly am. No one would EVER no how much pain I cause others/ That wall manifested itself into patterns of control that have affected everything I have done in my life.
The first pattern I put into place was that it was not safe to be blamed for anything. That created in me what I have come to call my “blame” issue. I have become much better over the years since I consciously began my own personal growth, but before that time, I would become very defensive sometimes even lying or stretching the truth to avoid moving into that shame again. At one point my husband said to me, “I cannot even ask you a simple question without you feeling I am blaming you for something.”
Another pattern that helped me build my protective wall was that of care taking or making sure that everything was OK for anyone around me who I may have perceived as a threat. Because deep inside I was responsible for everyone’s pain. I have devoted my life to revealing and healing other’s pain. Everyone’s but my own! Healer heal thy self. Over the years I became an expert at turning all possible blame situations into an evasive action to avoid the conflict. I used my psychic abilities to feel a potential threatening situation on the way and busily ” took care” of every angle before disaster struck. In this way I could avoid being blamed and not have to feel the shame of messing up.
Webster’s Dictionary defines shame as, “a painful feeling caused by awkwardness, wrongdoing, or improper behavior; disgrace; dishonor.” What I have discovered about shame is that it is the emotional reaction to being blamed or made to feel wrong about something done usually in innocence. Julia Cameron, author of The Artists Way says “Those of us who get bogged down by fear before action are usually being sabotaged by an older enemy, shame.” Here is the thing about shame; it is so insidious because it is not an emotion that we can easily identify like anger, rage, grief or joy. Have you ever heard anyone say, “Boy, that woman is sure acting out. She is so shameful.” No, you hear that someone is angry or sad but never shameful. There isn’t even a verb to the emotion of shame. That is how hidden it truly is. You can be angry, sad or happy but you cannot be “shame.” It is not a state of being and yet there is a feeling associated with the emotion of shame that is very real but very subtle. It is only when we uncover a story such as the one I have shared with you that the emotion of shame is felt. Otherwise it remains hidden and silently deadly in your life.
One time while in Peru we were working with a group in a hotel room and the shame issue came up. As I asked each person to reveal an issue of shame in their childhood one lady on the trip who was gay and in a very stable and healthy relationship told her shame story. She said as a young adolescent girl she was a good athlete and, in particular, a very good swimmer. One day as she climbed out of the pool after a successful lap for the swim team, an adult remarked within ear shot “Look at her! She has the body of a boy but I think she is a girl”. Julie described her feelings as she turned bright red and flushed with shame!!! It was an emotion that came to let her know she was not in her power and it was indicating to her a place within herself that she did not love. Yet because shame was a hidden emotion, Julie suffered alone with her feelings and tried to suppress them. This lead to a life in which she pretended to be very insensitive, because to be sensitive would be to hurt. To this day it is hard for Julie to own her shame and use the feeling to heal that part of herself.
So, let’s talk about shame now. The emotional field of humanity that I work with in my counseling has been very helpful to me in defining each emotion. I call this energy Ezekiel and yet it is not a being but a collective of the emotions of the human race and therefore a part of me and of each and every one of you. Here is what our emotional field, Ezekiel, has shared with me about shame. These words were given several years ago during a session I did for a woman who has worked with me, Sue Isaac.
Dearest One, in the word “shame” as you know it is the word “She Am.” In this word “shame” is the deep wounding of the feminine side of God. It is the taking apart of her wholeness, her beauty, her worth. It is the mantel the divine feminine has worn for eons of time now and her wound is reflected everywhere in humanity. Human men and women both have the divine feminine aspect as they do the divine male aspect. The shame wound is female in origin and exists everywhere that the feminine voice has been stilled. The powerful God aspect of this we will call the “she I am” presence. Where the “she I am” has been placed in hiding,- shame is birthed. You were born into families of secrets and lies. Families that imprinted you to,”zip up; keep quiet; don’t speak.” What is left unsaid creates the wound of shame. You are now ready to claim the “she I am” presence back, dropping the mantel of shame and creating wholeness on a much deeper level.
Let’s take shame a step further. It is the feminine part of self that has taken on these patterns of shame. When there is something that is secret; something that should not be told; something that you would not want anyone to know, it activates shame and the “She I am” (the powerful aspect )becomes immobilized by the feeling. At this point, it is difficult to identify that shame and heal the hurt inside. Shame is where you store EVERYTHING that in some way is not acceptable. Shame hides in every wound and in its attempt to break through, it uses every feeling, emotion and situation it can to get your attention. Shame is blocked sometimes by anger, often by deep sadness and it is almost always a huge component of depression. When you realize that you are carrying cellular shame since you first separated from Spirit, perhaps you can begin to comprehend how deep these roots dwell.
“What to do” you may ask? How does one even begin to uncover the huge chasm shame has created and turn it into the power you gave up when you first began to hide the beauty of the divine feminine? Well, I will tell you. There is a little child inside of you cringing in shame in the deepest recesses of your being. This child is waiting to be loved and accepted NO MATTER WHAT perception and old pattern screams at you to deny this child. For example, if you knew your physical child was hiding in your closet, afraid to come out because he or she had broken your favorite crystal glass, what would you do? If you are conscious, you would open the door and sit down next to that child and listen. You would tell this little one that although you are sad the glass is broken, you love the child. This is what your own inner child needs from you. Listen and begin to hear all the storage of shame this little one has been holding on to for you. Hold the child as he or she feels these things and tell yourself how beautiful you truly are. Shame is awaiting your willingness to stand naked before yourself and accept everything you see. It sounds impossible, but as you speak it, all things begin to shift. It was the act of hiding that turned the “She I Am” into shame.
Quite honestly, the truth of shame is just beginning to reveal itself to humanity. Every one of us holds shame in our act of separation from God. As we separated from God per soul agreement, we took on the emotion of shame for the very act we agreed to participate in. I believe all of us are playing roles to trigger ourselves and each other into remembering our true wholeness and returning to our connection with all life everywhere. This will be an impossible task until we heal the shame we created to remind us, like the breadcrumb trail of Hansel and Gretel, that we have done NOTHING wrong. In truth we are divine aspects of Spirit on our journey home. I am sure as we all share, feel and open to the healing of our emotional bodies we will bring our shame back into the power of the She I Am that emotion was meant to be. We are seeking here a balanced emotional field where all feelings can be felt, experienced and used to co-create true wholeness. I am empowered by this journey and look forward to discovering more and more as I grow and heal back into oneness.
On a final note, I mentioned earlier my student and friend Sue Isaac who has taught me much about deep shame and helped me learn about my own shame. It has been Sue’s constant asking of Ezekiel to share more and more that uncovered much of this wisdom that has been shared with you this day. Recently Sue entered a women’s abundance circle with me and in the process of owning the shame that keeps her in lack, she wrote this most incredible poem. In closing I wish to share this with you.
MY DANCE WITH SHAME
By Sue Issac
For years I have danced with shame.
Stuck in a relationship with me shouldering the blame.
Weeping all these years.
Time to move beyond the tears.
How many times have I said?
“Didn’t do it right.”
“Should have done better.”
“I’m not good enough.”
Such resistance that I will be rejected.
It is time to breath into the pain.
Breaking the illusion.
Put my heart out there to be vulnerable.
Let the shame surface,
Stop trying to bluff.
Transforming the shame
Into the She I Am
Healing with each interaction.
Opening my heart, feeling the rejection,
Feeling the disapproval.
Believing I am not good enough and disappearing in a puff
Or Believe I Am Enough.
No more hiding in the back unseen.
Loving myself back into myself.
Going inside into the dark spaces of truth.
Emptying the toxic energy of pain.
Do I know who I am sitting in my shame,
Accepting all the blame?
Seeing a new vision, charting a new course,
Setting myself free.
Turning this shame around, Becoming unbound.
Honoring the dark hand of God.
Honoring the light hand of God.
Taking my child, my heart, and my expression
Not a victim but a participant.
No more shutting down in sorrow,
No more saying tomorrow.
Taking my identity back.
Stop fearing the future.
In my heart,
Releasing, sharing, asking for support,
I’ll not discount my voice,
Emergence from SHAME
Into the SHE I AM.
Thank you for listening. Blessings!
Nancy Joy Hefron and Ezekiel