How to heal the heart from shame

Every Artist has a story that shapes their Art

Every painting is part of a story. My story and your story. 

This painting’s message is: Love is sacrifice. The swan’s bleeding and sacrificial love depict the woman’s spiritual enlightenment and her past, present, and future potential. The swan is bleeding because the woman has lost her purity. The colour red represents blood, love, and sacrifice. The swan’s sacrifice to reclaim what she had lost is symbolised by the blood. The underlying gleam of the silver colours represents the swan’s purity. It is under no need to sacrifice itself, yet it chooses to do so.

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Artwork by Charlie Mackensy

My father was a drinker by the age of 26. My mother was raised by an angry alcoholic father.

Adult daughters of alcoholics—”perfect daughters” —operate from a base of harsh and limiting views of themselves and the world.

I learned that I must function perfectly in order to avoid unpleasant situations. I became overly responsible, and often assumed responsibility for the failures of others. constantly battling my own guilt and shame. 

An Alcoholic Father's Influence on a Daughter

Artwork by Charlie Mackensy

Inflexibility occurs when you begin to rely on your routine because it keeps you secure.
Loneliness and shame – the consequences of not getting attention at an early age
Guilt and Self-Criticism – believing that your parent’s behaviour is your responsibility.
Trust issues – the fear that everyone else will treat you terribly as well.
Overachievement – the desire to be flawless and to satisfy others
Being too sensitive to little criticism is referred to as hypersensitivity.
Obligation – the belief that you must constantly look after others.

And, Yes…I ticked all the boxes.

Growing up with an alcoholic father has a significant influence on children

Artwork by Charlie Mackensy

Children of alcoholics often have to deny their feelings of sadness, fear, shame and anger in order to survive. And since unresolved feelings will always surface eventually, they often manifest during adulthood.

In my life, it manifested in distrust and hatred of both my parents and seeking affirmation in the wrong places. I was drowning in my own bitterness, shame and guilt.

Shame is one of the leading emotions that stem from growing up in a dysfunctional household. Feelings of shame are usually experienced in the form of self-hatred. One who feels shame can see the world as a place of suffering and loneliness.

Shame goes a step further than guilt. While guilt is acknowledging and feeling bad that you did something you shouldn’t have, shame is internalizing guilt and believing that you, yourself are bad because of the bad things you’ve done.

The Emotional Impact

Artwork by Charlie Mackensy

Ok, so now what? How does this help me?

Artwork by Charlie Mackensy


Don’t run from your emotions. Acknowledge them, apply useful strategies to manage them and learn from them. That is how you get through them.

For years, I suppressed my sentiments of rage. I was afraid of being furious, of hating my parents. But healing cannot begin unless we acknowledge the truth: I feel angry, sad, and disappointed because I lived not cherished and protected as a child should be. Recognizing reality is the first step toward healing.

Don’t run away from your feelings. Recognize them and adopt effective techniques to handle and learn from them. get professional help and prayer. That’s how you get over them.

Stop consuming poison!

Artwork by Charlie Mackensy

Unforgiveness is like swallowing poison and wishing the other person dies.

Forgiveness did not mean that I denied the lack of parental guidance and emotional support. It meant that I acknowledged and recognized my patterns of behaviour that were reactive to my upbringing. 

Recognizing the absence of parental love while deciding to forgive them let me go on with my life. It wasn’t an overnight trip. I’m still dealing with rejection and estrangement. However, it has gotten simpler to perceive and deal with it. 

Step 1: Learn to Forgive Yourself.

Artwork by Charlie Mackensy

It is fine to acknowledge your right to anger and past mistakes. To move forward in recovery, you need to forgive yourself for the reactions and behaviours you had because of your past.

Nothing productive will come from dwelling on past errors that can’t be undone. Ask for forgiveness from others you might have hurt because of your anger…I had to face my husband and ask his forgiveness for not trusting him.

Mat 6:15 Forgive others as you have been forgiven.

Step 2: Redefine Yourself

Artwork by Charlie Mackensy

Break away from guilt and shame and turn your focus to the present, on the person you are today. Know that you are worthy of forgiveness and that you are also worthy of love.

An Attitude of Gratitude

Every morning I would wake up and declare my gratefulness for the day, for my cup of coffee, and for my dog. Small thoughts made small but significant changes in my thought processes. 

Control your Thoughts

A mind too busy is no mind at all. Learn to take your thoughts captive, before they spiral back into self-pity. Keep short accounts and continually recognise and choose to forgive. 

Did my story speak to you?

Artwork by Charlie Mackensy

If my story spoke to you and helped you please share it so that more people can be helped.

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