A Woman's Voice

I’M NOT PERFECT AND IT’S OKAY ~ Thirteen Steps to a Happier Self ~ Chapter One (continued) ~ July 22, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

…continued from yesterday

CHAPTER ONE ~ The Greatest Of These Is LOVE

If we are made in God’s image and likeness like we learned, but he is not seen as loving and kind, then how can we see ourselves that way? This may be my own personal case; however, by reflecting back to what shaped my personality, it gave me some understanding of myself and the negative thoughts and feelings I was living with. How many of us have started off in some similar way? Maybe it is not by the same religious foundation but by other child rearing practices that have had a similar result. How is it possible to have a healthy self-image when one is taught that they have little or no self-worth or that there is so much to fear? Today we can now clearly see the results of such a concept in the need for all the self-help books that are out there. In order to truly heal ourselves we all need to get back to the root of the problem and go from there.

In my early thirties, I was faced with a very serious bout of depression. It was extremely debilitating and filled me with discouragement and despair. In order to start the healing process, I had to understand how I arrived at this point and what I was going to do about it. It was very difficult to come up with any solutions from this frame of reference.

There seemed to be a genetic predisposition to my depression. I also know that the exposure to the rigid religious views taught to me at such a young age had a huge impact. It was like my past education had come back to haunt me. I remember when I was six years old, I would twist my hair with my little fingers in a childlike trance to try to bring some kind of soothing and solace to myself as I dwelled upon the concept of hell and what would happen to me if I wasn’t good. I remember the black robes that the sisters and the priests wore in those days and how frightened I was of them and all that they were saying.

At the age of six, I would picture the concept of hell and the magnitude of the words eternal suffering in my mind and try to make sense of what was being said. I listened to and absorbed these words and believed everything that I heard. I cannot underestimate the unbelievable fear that was instilled in me, whether it was meant to be or not. I would like to believe that my teachers’ motives were good and that they were just repeating the way that they had been taught.

Many children were unaffected by these teachings, but I know others who have been deeply affected, not unlike myself. It all depended on the personality of the child. I was very sensitive and shy, and I believed absolutely everything verbatim. It never entered my mind to think otherwise. I was also taught that to question anything was to demonstrate a lack of faith.

Initially, and still to this day, I find this a very difficult subject to discuss. It is much easier for me to write about it rather than to talk about it. Although I have used the word easier, it has by no means been easy. The impact it had on my life and the lives of my family still brings tears to my eyes. As I have gone back in time, I have forced myself to remember some pretty painful things. It is not so much about myself and my past depression, but it was necessary to evoke memories of people who have been so dear to me and are no longer here on earth. At times, as I do this, my eyes well up with tears that eventually run down my cheeks as I relive some of these moments. Other times I break out in a smile as I recall lighter and happier ones. I am so grateful for these happy times.

To be continued…


2 Responses to 'I’M NOT PERFECT AND IT’S OKAY ~ Thirteen Steps to a Happier Self ~ Chapter One (continued) ~ July 22, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte'

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  1. raisethegaze said,

    Dolores, I’m sure that as you share your story with a willing heart to make yourself vulnerable, you will ignite the flame of courage and hope in the hearts of others who presently suffer in some aspects as you did.
    The impartation and nurturing of faith, hope, and love come through the Gospel — the Good News of Jesus Christ, our Lord. How precious it is when we grasp it!

    • Peter, it is wonderful and encouraging to hear from you. I must agree with you that when I shared my story, I never felt so vulnerable in my life. I was so ashamed to admit what I had been through and what I was still dealing with. I hope my words will encourage others to have the courage to share their stories too. My goal has always been to bring to light what many of us have endured by incorrect teachings in our most impressionable years by those we actually feared in much the same way the image of God was presented. Psychological and emotional abuse, and perhaps what I am describing is actually spiritual abuse, has not been addressed to the same extent as other forms of abuse, if at all. I know many others have suffered much like me and some even more so. I pray and hope that one day the people involved will take responsibility for all the forms of abuse that have occurred under their watch and be accountable for their actions. Bright blessings to you and yours Peter and thanks for stopping by. It’s always a great pleasure to hear from you!

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