Editors note: We have all experienced shame in our lives in different ways. From birth, Jo was burdened with a shame that was never meant to be hers. All throughout her life, she carried this burden as if it was permanently etched into her destiny. But then, as you will read, once the whole truth became clear to Jo, she was able to experience freedom.
Imagine being told, by your mother, about the miraculous healing that you received when you were a tiny infant. Imagine being reminded of how it was her prayer that got answered. Imagine, also, how your entire life was based on fabrications of what you thought was truth. Such was my life until a month ago.
My family was involved in a major wreck in 1964. My mom, who was pregnant with me, went through the ‘64 Ford Mustang’s windshield. It took her right cheek, began a water-based brain tumor, and began my life of carrying her shame. You see, Mom was beautiful: long, dark hair, beautiful features. Afterwards, though, her beauty was gone. In its place were skin grafts and scarring, along with a baby that she never wanted.
After I was born, I needed a blood transfusion due to having severe jaundice from being subjected to all Mom’s blood transfusions prenatally. I had a stroke, in my right Frontal Cortex by my brain stem, which killed me and left me with Cerebral Palsy on my left side. The doctors told my parents, “She’s black, stiff, dead. Rigor Mortis has already set in. If you believe in God, you’ve got to have a miracle.”
Mom went outside and prayed, “God, if she’s not going to live for You, take her now because I don’t want to see what she’s going to do. But, if she is, You’ve got to do something, now.” Five minutes later, the doctor comes in and says, “We don’t know what happened. She was black, stiff, dead. She’s pink and moving.”
The wispy shadow called Shame began, for me, once I was released to go home. Mom didn’t really like to be bothered with me. I was not one of her most favorite people. I could feel her abandonment in a tangible way. To others, outside of our home, the pretense of ‘love’ was very convincing to the point that I actually believed she loved me.
I tried to get her love by excelling in school: only child to be in National Honor Society (Sophomore, Junior, Senior years); Who’s Who Among American High School Students (Junior and Senior year); lettering in Choir. Then, 20 years later, in college, the inductions into 3 different Honor societies, being a High Honor graduate for both my AA and my BA, and, finally, bettering my Magna Cum Laude BA by .08 for my MLA. But, none of that mattered since Mom saw it as a negative because education was not of value to her.
Later, after 47 years, my Mom spoke her truth after my Dad’s death. Her words to me were: “I never wanted you. Why should I have wanted you? I had 2 great sons and a beautiful daughter. You were ugly and the hardest one to have. You could only sleep when you were on my chest. Do you know how I hated that?” There it was in a nutshell, in addition to her constant belittling, the constant comparisons to my sister.
The loving/caring ‘face’ she showed to others was just a facade to mask her shame at having a child she didn’t want, seeing the same daughter have something wrong with her, too, and blaming said daughter for reminding her of her losses.
But, where Mom saw me as a nuisance, God saw a beautiful Daughter. He walked with me through the dark 50-plus years of Mom’s shame. In 2013 on my birthday, He began working on ‘my’ shame issue. Slowly, but surely, He took all of my, and everyone else’s, shame. He took my low self-esteem, which manifested in my choosing verbally abusive, alcoholic, drug-addicted men who would treat me as my Mom did. On a really great friend’s birthday in May, 2015, God finished the work by delivering me from ALL shame.
Because of what my God, my Jesus, and my Holy Spirit have done for me, I am a published author on a major eBook platform. I write about shame and how to be free from it. I am free in Them to be who They have always intended me to be.
My Mom’s shame is her’s, not mine. And, I choose to love her, regardless.
Jo with her daughter