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  • Writer's pictureMollie Talbot

Known For the Holidays: When Shame Interferes With What Used to be "Home."

originally posted by For the Mama Heart on 12/2/2019


Our road trip home for Thanksgiving was everything you never want to happen. We dealt with blizzard conditions, a closed and then reopened highway, an inconsolable infant's first trip, an inconsolable 3-year-old waking up the inconsolable infant as soon as he fell asleep, an unplanned hotel stay due to said children's inability to be consoled, an infant's kicks and elbows while sleeping without a pack-n-play, and a 3-year-old vomiting in bed as soon as the karate infant fell asleep. And guys, that was just the first half of the road trip.

The visit could only go up from there, right? Wrong. It turned out that merely driving around our hometown caused a crazy amount of shame, pain, and trauma to surface for my husband and I. Because we grew up in the same city, we ran with a lot of the same people, in a lot of the same places, where we made a lot of the same mistakes. He and I both drank too much, did copious amounts of drugs, and left memories with a collection of less-than-worthy exes in our wake when we eventually left town.


On our first day in town, my husband returned from a Quiktrip run looking burdened, so I pressed in. Kyle explained that the gas station was right next to a house he'd lived in with his late mother, before pushing her out of his life for a time, and where he'd lived with an ex-girlfriend just before they broke up. He was feeling a lot of things he couldn't put his finger on, but we whittled it down to shame. He regretted the way he had treated his mother, and regretted the time and energy he had wasted in relationships before us. As our stay in Kansas City continued, so did the hurts and shame.

Every liquor store we passed seemed to hold a story of me stumbling in or out of it. At one point, we drove by a breakfast place that gave me the start of a panic attack; full weighted-memories of hung-over mornings I'd spent there with an ex. The Airbnb my husband, sons, and I rented was within walking distance to the intensive outpatient program and first AA homegroup I attended while trying to get sober. Both of which I attended at one point or another while completely intoxicated. My own shame buried me in the first city I called "home" and I remembered why we didn't make this trip more often.

Because of my counseling and post-partum depression/anxiety journey of the last year, I'd gone home semi-prepared for the resurfacing of buried things. Still, I had no idea my shame would be so strong. My husband's confession and connection with me through his own hurts allowed us to explore our feelings openly, and opportunities to call our attention back to Truth.

And the truth is, sometimes the holidays are comfy cozy, and sometimes they trigger trauma, but we remain unchanged because GOD is our namer and knower, not our circumstance. 2 Timothy 2:19 says:

“Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His.’

He knows us. But the enemy plays dirty and our shame is powerful. Shame can shut down celebration, mute God's affirmations, and blur an identity and calling that was otherwise clear. Shame might even try to dictate travel plans to see your family, but as of now, we're done with that.


I am not the girl who made those bad decisions; I am a woman of God. A woman who still makes bad decisions (let's be real), but they don't get to call my identity or belonging with my Creator into question. He called me—I answered—and we keep showing up together to chip away at life and the continued transformations that come when you follow your call deeper. I am known; everything that was, is, and will be. And from that knowing, I am beloved. Every stitch of my story is the tapestry of my testimony, and every ounce of shame is the salve to another's broken heart. When we can hold that, it's comical to think a liquor store, gas station, or brunch spot could ever take it away.

God protected us on our nightmare journey on the road to Kansas. Whether we could appreciate it at the time or not, He reminded us with every disrupted expectation that real healing comes when we push through our internal blizzards just past the point of wanting to vomit, and right back to Abba who says, "While you've been dwelling on who you were, I've been molding it to propel who you are. And trust Me: I know her and I've called her 'good.'"

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