Shame is Not Home for the Holidays

Home is a hard concept when you are in the middle of  a healing process. It may not even be that your family are bad people or that they are the ones who have harmed you. Sometimes that can be the case and I want to acknowledge that, but that is not always the case. In my opinion, one reason home can be hard is that your family is not your safest people. 

For healing to be a priority in someone’s journey, they need safe people around them. I have been finishing this book over break called The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe About Ourselves. It may go down as one of my top ten books of all time, I would highly recommend it to anyone, especially those who want to decrease the effects of shame on their lives. The main takeaway I have had from it is that the narrative we tell ourselves is often false because we are the only author of it. Shame seeks to isolate you from anyone, shame loves to be the pervasive feeling in every experience you have with others. However, the only way to get shame out of the driver’s seat is to tell your narrative to people. This action exposes the vulnerable parts of yourself and allows others to write their version of the story you are telling. Storytelling is dynamic, and the story we are telling will actually shift as we are telling our story to others. The look of love on others’ faces, their body language, the way they extend a comforting hand, etc. will change the way we see our stories. Oftentimes, this turns out to be for the better.

Shame has a big part in keeping us from emotionally healthy relationships with others and with God. Shame tells the story that we are bad and its actions can be overt or covert. Recognizing shame’s nature will release you to experiencing the love of God fully. As you are exposed, that is the scariest moment of life but it is the place where God’s love will start to transform the deep parts of you. 

Changing shame’s narratives starts with involving safe people in your storytelling. This involves connection, real honest conversation. I know I can speak for everyone when I say that after this pandemic season that we have been in since March, we all understand the importance of connection. The thing that we have all been deprived of because of public health safety concerns is the thing that makes all the difference.

As a big proponent of therapy, I think one of the most helpful tools in thriving while you’re at home is preparing to be there emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Therapy has been a great tool for me to use for that reason. Any session leading up to extended periods of being home, I am always brutally honest about concerns I have about my healing journey and how it will be impacted by being home. I’ve seen a Christian therapist through two stents in counselings and that has been super helpful to be able to be transparent about every aspect of how it may be difficult. Preparation creates a space while I’m home where I can connect to others and God. This can look like me escaping for a drive around town where I can just pray and connect to God in places in my hometown. It can, also, be an encouraging text from a friend who knows it’s hard to be home or a FaceTime call on a bad night.

One big difference in the past two years has been my support system while I’m home. I have found some really solid friends that are supportive, encouraging, and present even if they were not physically present. Good friends can feel like family when those relationships bring hope and healing to your soul and your narrative. The right people in your life will water the soil that you have tended to and in the darkest moments, they will be a light at the end of the tunnel. Good people remind you that there is something worth fighting for, that you are worth fighting for, and that God is worth fighting for.

You will have good days when you get home. You will have bad days when you are home. This experience is universal. As you spend time in college, I believe this is the time when your identity is cultivated. You are learning which parts of yourself you want to take with you into this phase of your life and which you want to leave behind. As you piece this new identity together, you are forced into another mold when you’re home. Parts of this mold will hold true, others do not, and as you are home, there are mental gymnastics that are taking place as you try to bridge this divide. As you do that, you need people who will ground you. People who will be there as the height of emotion wears off and you start processing through hard and good moments. Connection is the key to emotionally, mentally, and spiritually thriving at home.

Author  |  Cristina Rosiles

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