When I hung up the phone after my 40-minute radio interview with Valerie Okunami, host of KCOR’s Bizi Yogi show I had a sinking feeling. I had talked about my shame on the air. I knew what I’d be discussing when I agreed to be a guest—the day’s topic was healing from toxic shame. So why did I feel bad? Had I confessed too much? What would people think of me? Then it hit me. I was ashamed, the very feeling that had been at the heart of the interview.

A week later, I listened to a recording of the show. To my surprise, I didn’t cringe at all. I’ve listened twice now and felt the same way both times. I shouldn’t have doubted myself—before the interview, I had set the intention to leave my ego behind and speak words that would be of the highest good for all who listened. I planned nothing and went with the flow while talking to the show host, and it worked.

I’m not sure if my interview inspired others, but it certainly inspired me. While listening to my own voice, I was reminded of the many gifts that arose from my most painful “failures.” An old friend once told me that he records himself speaking inspirationally. He said that listening to his own voice is powerfully uplifting I didn’t believe him then, but I do now.

I spoke about my shame and guilt when I was on the radio, but I didn’t talk about the underlying disenfranchised grief. Dr. Ken Doka defines it as “grief that persons experience when they incur a loss that is not or cannot be openly acknowledged, socially sanctioned or publicly mourned.” Disenfranchised grief can be caused by anything—abortion, death from AIDS, death from suicide, death of the partner in an extra-marital affair, loss of one’s home, loss of a pet, grief that other people think has gone on for “too long,” having a child in prison…

My grief began at birth when I was given up for adoption. In my interview, I touched on the shame I felt from being abused as a child, being sexually assaulted, being adopted, and giving up my own baby for adoption. All of these experiences caused disenfranchised grief and, subsequently, feelings of deep shame and unworthiness that took decades to access and heal.

When I hung up the phone after my interview, I sat silently for a moment and looked onto my deck. I noticed the soft melody of the chime, the bluebirds hopping on and off the feeder, and the shadows cast by the beams of morning sunlight. Just outside my window was a metaphor for my life: shadows amidst melody and light. In that moment, I let go of feeling bad about my shame, my disenfranchised grief. It’s part of who I am. Like the shadows on my deck, it will continue to ebb and flow, and that’s okay.

5 thoughts on “Healing My Guilt and Shame Through Acceptance”

  1. Vernon McIntyre

    I listened to your radio talk and I’ve read your Blog. I would like to say Thanks. I was not adopted or had a baby and I’m a guy. but I came from a broken home, family fights and lost love. I find I have as you say disenfranchised grief and feeling of unworthiness that I did not understand. Reading your writings has helped me find forgiveness and understanding in my life and in myself. Please keep writing and sharing. keep looking behind the shadows and finding light. you are like the song said “Hello darkness my old friend I come to speak with you again”….. Thank you stay strong be happy, you are touching many people.

  2. Signe

    Maybe it’s just because I’m such a private person, but I can’t imagine being brave enough to talk about my dirty laundry in a public forum like this. And if I did, I definitely wouldn’t have the guts to listen to it. I’m impressed.

  3. Sharon Fieker Cummins

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. Having kept my story of my placing my daughter for adoption a secret for 25 years from everyone except my immediate family, one girlfriend and the birth father, I know all about the healing that comes from sharing. Once my daughter found me 27 years ago, I have told the world every chance I get by publishing our story in a book and openly sharing. I co-founded an adoption group in 2003 for all members of the adoption constellation, and we are still meeting once a month. I also worked with many others throughout Missouri to get the Missouri Adoptee Righs Act passed in 2016 so Missouri-born adopted adults can request their birth certificate. Monica, I have signed up to receive your writings. Keep up with the writing, as you are blessing so many others.

    1. monicahall Post Author

      Thank you so much for your kind words and all you are doing for our community. I would love to know more about your group.

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