About Shame. And Anxiety. And Sexual Abuse. And Not Having the Answers.

I am overwhelmed with work, and overwhelmed with other things at the moment. I do not have time for a post and yet. Here it is. Because although I don’t have time for a post, I do have time for a conversation, and this is a conversation. It will will be brief or maybe rambling, but what it will not be is polished. Because polish I most definitely do not have time for. Here it is.

I have been trapped for several days in a spiral of anxiety and shame. At times so strong I could hardly breathe, let alone do normal things like get work done or actually look at something instead of staring past it. I thought I was over this, thought that I was done, I had “overcome.” Anxiety, fear–things of the past for me. I had said as much to a friend of mine over lunch on Friday. I beat my chest–huzzah for me. And that very night was when the spiral began.

Finally yesterday I started reading about it, this horrible spiral, and its connection with childhood sexual abuse and the specific circumstances of what I endured. Small potatoes compared to many, but enough. Reading about it helped.

But not as much as these two things helped:




“Out of the hallway, little girl. You will see god’s love, the belief that you are perfect as you are, in this moment, simply because you exist, perfect, in god’s love.”

Maybe I am one of those leaving cigarette butts on the greenway path. I may have left some broken bottles for someone else to step on. I’m sorry. Perhaps that’s my broken rosary strewn by the way. Nevermind. I am, in this moment, simply because I exist, perfect. In god’s love.

This does not make the anxiety go away entirely. I can’t explain it. It doesn’t make logical sense. When I look at myself from the outside I think, “What the heck, girl? You are so amazing.” But then I look inside and I go, “Oh, but you missed something. See that horrible stain? See that? It’s rotten in the core, don’t you see?” And then I hide because I don’t really want anyone to see that rotten core.

And then I write something like that, and then I want to take it back but I’m not going to because I think maybe there’s value in sharing when I’m feeling vulnerable, not just when I’m feeling strong and ready with the answers.

So here I am. Vulnerable. No answers. But I will say this: I have faith. I know Grace will come to me. In fact, it already has. Those two blog entries above, they are the soothing balm of grace for me right now. And soon (or late, who knows?) I will be able to see again how beautiful I am. The rotten core is an illusion. Right?

Yes. I am perfect in god’s love. That is enough for now.


  1. Jaimie says:

    I suffer from anxiety too. There’s really nothing to do but wait it out. It sucks. I’m sorry.

    But it isn’t your fault. You are wonderful and you will realize it again. Sometimes we need someone to Good-Will-Hunting us with “It’s not your fault”s. At the same time, that might make my anxiety worse. :)

  2. Curiosity Cat says:

    Thank you. Yes. And you’re right–sometimes the weirdest things make me feel WORSE instead of better. Like people talking about anxiety. Or telling me it’s not my fault. lol! Or thinking of all the reasons I *shouldn’t* be ashamed. Or my husband telling me how cool I am–how messed up is it that that sometimes makes me feel worse??? Or even just talking about this–ugh, why does it make me feel worse to talk about it sometimes? It’s like I’m ashamed to feel anxious. Crazy-making! All of those things make me feel better *in the long run.* But in the short run–ugh. Just ugh. I think soon I will move on. Eventually I have to refocus my sight on something else and eventually I can move on. I’ve been feeling gradually better since Sunday, today better than yesterday even (which is why I’m even able to write about it–in the worst throes, I can’t do anything, let alone write!). Hopefully tomorrow will be almost great. Joyce (my therapist) says you can’t treat anxiety in the negative. Maybe it’s time for me to apply that. Maybe I’ll write about it soon. Meanwhile. Thank you. :)

  3. Oh Heather, I am sad to hear the shame and pain has struck. I think perhaps we will always cycle back around to it from time to time. I was thinking about how my anxiety and shame spirals are an opportunity for me to soothe that frightened child within me every time they arise. Then Alice seconded that notion. So see it not as failure, but a chance to connect with that lovely, innocent little Heather, who needs you now. Tell her she is safe now, and she is lovely, and worthy. Buy her some flowers and a fuzzy warm blanket. Treat her like the miracle she is. Hope this helps.

    • Curiosity Cat says:

      Thank you. That does help. It’s hard, too. The little girl wants to hide. It is getting better–I woke up in the middle of the night last night and felt AWESOME. Really great. Woke up this morning feeling so-so. I’ll see what I can do to honor my little innocent Heather girl today. Thank you.

    • Jaimie says:

      I really like this idea.

  4. Aubrey says:

    Compassion doesn’t come easily to that little girl in me either. It’s also why I write…to escape my body closing in on itself…the suffocation of the stress.

    I love what writingmywaysober said, about making it an opportunity to “treat her like the miracle she is”…I know that’s what my hallway post did for the little girl in me. And, it’s the best thing I ever learned in therapy. That feeling of worthless, flawed, unloved…simply isn’t true…god loves me simply because I exist.

    Part of why I started Embracing This Moment, was because, when I take it any larger than that, even trying to live a day at a time is too much (especially when I am paralyzed in that hallway). So to simply live in this moment, the one we are in right now…it’s all I know to be true. That’s helped me stay more present, more grounded, and I dare say, sometimes, a little happier too.

    • Curiosity Cat says:

      Thank you. Yes. Everything you said.

      I am considerably better today. All of this helps so much. Putting my vulnerable self out there and having it received with compassion. And these reminders. Breathe THIS moment. Thank you.

  5. Priscilla says:

    Heather, I have suffered from these same thoughts. Thank you so much for sharing them so openly and allowing others to relate with you and feel that we are not alone. I wish you all the best in your journey. I often think that I wish I could treat myself with the same unconditional love that I treat my own young daughter with. It’s definitely not that easy. If you want to chat more, email me sometime! Good luck!

    • Curiosity Cat says:

      Thank you, Priscilla. YES–why is it so easy to treat others with unconditional love and compassion and so hard to treat ourselves that way. When I look at myself–all of it, the bumps and bruises and mistakes and ugliness along with the good stuff–I look at it from the outside, and it looks pretty darn good altogether. It looks like someone I’d have a lot of compassion for if it weren’t ME. Why? I don’t know. I’m working on it.

  6. Suzy says:

    Pain sometimes comes back as an annual memory. Out of the blue we are reminded of previous hurts, sometimes seeing the event unfold in our minds at unexpected times. I think that environmental triggers like time of year, daylight, or other factors can bring it to mind unwilling.

    • Curiosity Cat says:

      I’ve definitely found this to be true too! I’ve heard it called “lizard brain memory,” because it’s stored in a very primitive part of the brain. I like your term “annual memory” because some anxious memories definitely seems to recur at certain times of year.

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