I do write what I have gone through because it’s impossible to lead someone to a place I have never been before. Most of us don’t even know we have toxic shame. We just pretend we’re all right and do our best to be acceptable in the community. The parable of “Prisoner in the Dark Cave” is telling us how to recognize our shame and not only overcome shame, but to be healed of the shame that binds us.
I’ve been a long-time student of John Bradshaw for the past twenty-years. His book, “Healing the Shame that Binds You” is my second Bible. My journey out of the dark cave of shame did not happen until I met Christ. I had the knowledge, but it was detached from my heart. But Jesus helped… I learned to be humble, a total self-acceptance: and confess my shame hiding behind pride and arrogance. No façade of perfection. He’s a genius of a man, teacher… and so real and humble. He taught me how to be vulnerable and not be ashamed of being broken and imperfect.
In the matters of the heart, set of rules can’t change you. You need to learn to love yourself as God love you. I really didn’t know how to be kind and patient with myself, but I knew how to be kind and patient with others. No wonder we get so stressed out!
I found a way out by getting on my hand and knees and crawled out through the hole in the dark on the southside of the cave. I prayed, “I’m so messed up LORD with toxic shame. Help me see where I need to break agreements I unconsciously made because of religion or culture.” Toxic shame believes you’re worthless, and defective unless you are a woman, married, owning land and money with perfect children. These feelings/beliefs have become you… your false self. Always fear you’re up to par. Competitive, Comparing yourself with others. When Jesus found me, he opened my eyes to see and understand Bradshaw’s teaching and found that hole on the southside of the cave, just beneath of the rocks and dirt of achievement and performances. I found freedom to walk in the light, sometimes in dark tunnels, trusting my Shepherd knows where we are going.
Most of the battles begin and end in the mind. Inner critics can be loud and incessant. At times shame stands behind me and say, “Who do you think you are!” or “Bor cheroid er tirilechang e ke redil.” Why? Am I not a person with her own thoughts, feelings and choices?
David’s brother said to him, “Why have you come here? And with whom did you leave those sheep in the desert. I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch that battle.” “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” Reading David’s narratives made ma laugh out loud. And so like David I turned to others who didn’t mind my company, with like-minded people. People who are not afraid to be different, weird, and out of sync with the world.