How can I show you who I really am when I don’t even know? I have been hiding in the shadows for so long that I have lost myself. I deeply want people to see me, but I am afraid. What if they don’t like what they see?
Sometime early in my life I was forced into the shadows of self-doubt, worthlessness, and fear. My marriage to a sex addict pushed me farther into those shadows. Shame and fear kept me there. I was so worried that the broken, negative, ugly person that I was, well, I was unlovable and I deserved what I had gotten.
After all, beautiful people they don’t end up in the shadows…right??
Addicts like you in the shadows
I think my ex-husband liked me in the shadows. I know that his friends only got small glimpses of me and it allowed him to create me into what he wanted me to be. They never saw me as a person so it allowed him to justify and reason his poor behavior. No one was willing to call him out because they believed what he told them. They weren’t willing to come into my shadows to find out what I really was.
Isolating and hiding in the shadows to avoid exposure
The entire time I was there I wanted out, I was searching for the light, but seemed stuck. Ironically there is a weird sense of safety when we are hiding in the shadows; it feels protected from the world. If they can’t see us, they can’t validate the truthfullness of what we have been told and beleive about ourselves.
We may peek out occasionally just to be shoved back in with reminders that we have no worth. We turn to isolation as a way to protect ourselves. If we only show people the surface there won’t be anything to not like….. right? We keep our thoughts and opinions to ourselves. Don’t be loud, if we are quiet no one will see how broken and messed up we are. The devil whispers….”it is a dangerous world out there, stay in here where it is safe.”
Still today when I am feeling shame and fear I tend to isolate myself from others. I have to watch for this.
Everyone has their own set of shadows
I beleived that if I was just more, my husband would come and get me from the shadows and be proud of me. I deeply wanted his love and approval. What I didn’t know back then was that everyone has their own set of shadows. I don’t think my exhusband intentionally kept my in my shadows. I think that he was stuck in his own.
I have learned that when we are stuck in our own shadows we are incapable of helping others out of theirs.
I was looking for him to save me, and he was incapable of that.
Finally I turned to the only person that could save me. I turned toward God. It’s not like I didn’t beleive in him before this time, becasue I did. And it isn’t like I didn’t pray, because I had. I finally quit begging my exhusband to fix me and I started begging God to fix me. This is when my journey out of the shadows really began.
Coming out of the shadows
Oh, it was so bright when I first stepped out of the shadows. It felt like someone was pointing a spot light on me and I was exposed. It was scary and vulnerable and uncomfortable. I didn’t like it.
If it was up to me alone I may have shrunk back into the dark places, but dear friends and an amazing counselor held my hand through the exposure. Coming out of the denial that I had been living with a sex addict for half of my life, facing my codependant self and seeing the part that I played in my marriage, finding out about the betrayal of infidelity, and facing divorce was heartwrenching. Each experience felt like it might kill me, and each time I had to choose to push into the pain and face my shadows.
Life outside the shadows
It took some time, but each time I leaned into the pain that life offered me and gently pushed through it I got farther away from the shadows. I practiced shame resiliance for a year before I started to get the hang of it and felt a huge shift inside myself. Fear was present, but so were angels. It is vulnerable out here, and it can be scary. The world isn’t always nice and people sometimes throw things at me from their shadows. I am okay with that, what I know is that I don’t want to ever go back into my shadows. The idea that there is safety there is a lie. Shadows breed shame, fear, and loneliness.
Come out of your shadows, I will help you, let’s walk into the sunshine together.