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What is your shame/

I think that one of the most crippling emotions anyone should have to deal with is shame. Deep or superficial, it’s crippling, burdensome and never released.

I have known two or more moments of shame, but the one incident that impressed me the most is when I was not quite 10 years old. We lived in the country, a place called Pleasant Vally, about 10 miles from town. Every Friday we got into the habit of going to a Christian church for Bible study. Two men would come by our house and others in the Valley to give us a ride to and from the church in town. When I think of it,  I am both honored at their generosity and a little impressed by their commitment.

My dad was a very heavy drinker. A mean drunk, in fact. But he was also very responsible and a high-functioning alcoholic – he had good jobs for which he was praised and promoted.

One night before the bible guys showed up, I noticed a box of empty beer bottles sitting in the yard in clear sight of the driveway.  It seemed appropriate for me to drag the box back behind the garage so it was not visible to cars coming around our driveway. When the car arrived to pick me up, the box was out of sight and I never gave it another thought.

When I got home that night, my father questioned me, “Did you pull the box of empty beer bottles back behind the garage?”

I just looked at him.

“Are you ashamed of me?”

Again, I only stared at him.

“Never be ashamed of your family.  There is nothing to be ashamed of.”

Now I felt shame. For my judgment of my father. For the judgment I expected from the bible guys.

From what I am sure was a remembered shame by my father.

I have never felt such a debilitating emotion. It is not a emotion you can ever forget or ever not be able to retrieve.

What was I thinking? This man who was our father as imperfect and unreachable as he was.

What was I thinking?

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Great doubt leads eventually to great enlightenment.