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#463616 - 04/03/14 02:03 PM Re: Shame Revisited [Re: Jude]
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4166
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
Jude -

i have had to deal with more than my share of shame. it started at about 5 1/2 with the step-dad - and never let up until i moved out at 18. but his programming of my self-image meant that i had NO SELF-image - only the false image that he had created. it was reinforced by numerous other abusers, bosses and religious leaders through the years - and i agreed with them all unquestioningly for decades.

what changed that? i do not know if i ever consciously worked on that specific issue alone - it was more of an effect of putting all of the other garbage into perspective. i do know that i was powerless to create my own positive self-image without the help of others. i did not trust my own judgement. i could not just say "i was not to blame" or "it was not my fault" and believe it - without a LOT of encouragement, reinforcement and positive validation from others - much of it right here on MS forums.

of course, it was hard for me to trust others too - so - often their words of affirmation did little to help either - at least at first. this had driven my wife crazy - that i would discount every positive thing she said. i absolutely could not accept it because it went against the strong current of everything in my previous life and thought patterns.

over time, i learned to trust, to believe, to take others' words as trustworthy, to build my own version of my self-image. i also have a strong faith element in my life - which has also helped a great deal.

eventually, the shame began to recede as the self-acceptance grew. i learned to separate the lies i had been force-fed from the truth of reality that i am learning to recognize and know.

i can't say that i am free of shame entirely - but i am no longer paralyzed or disabled by it as i once way. it is in the background now - not the forefront.

"My experience has shown me that I all too often tend to deny that which lies behind, but as I still believe, that which is denied cannot be healed." Brennan Manning, "All is Grace - A Ragamuffin Memoir"

#463682 - 04/04/14 10:57 PM Re: Shame Revisited [Re: traveler]
focusedbody Offline

Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 540
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: traveler
i can't say that i am free of shame entirely - but i am no longer paralyzed or disabled by it as i once way. it is in the background now - not the forefront.

Is it possible that shame is not the only problem, but the fear of it as well? And since we can't let go of that fear completely, it is the healthy management of that we're ultimately after?

It seems a lot has been written about different aspects of shame--the toxic kind that seems to envelop and overwhelm, that gives a huge negative charge and leaves you feeling worthless; and then the healthy kind that lets you know where boundaries are to actions that get out of control.

Is it that by feeling the rotten feelings that somehow I get better at not getting caught in the toxicity? I think that's what I'm going through too. For me it is easy to imagine that the toxic kind has disappeared, but in doing so I tend to actually be more vulnerable to running into it. It feels difficult to stay in touch with that reality, but it usually helps me find my way in the long run. I wonder if it what feels like vigilance may also be related to finding some kind of acceptance.

Lose the drama; life is a poem.

#463691 - 04/05/14 03:49 AM Re: Shame Revisited [Re: Jude]
On The Fringe Offline

Registered: 09/21/13
Posts: 326
Loc: Southeast USA
I try and focus on reality based self esteem.

Sounds weird at first but it is simple and works for me.

Am i Ethical in my dealings with others.

Am I loving to those in need, or those I care about.

I understand in my own personal beliefs that I was created as a person of infinite value. Bad people did some bad things to me. They did not diminish my value. I may have a distorted vision and value of myself though.

It has taken a while to realize others love me deeply. If felt so to blame and dirty. The farther I distance the blame for my abuse from me, the determination of my self esteem... The better off I am.

I am loved. I am a valuable person, a precious life. I try and live right according to how I think a good person should.

Shame of my abuse is the hurt, the damage. It is the dead flesh around the wound. I may as well have had a dagger stuck in me instead of a penis. It wounded me and wound has to be cleansed, the dead skin cut away, and scar tissue heal over the damage.

I hope you feel better soon. We all go thru those phases. Hang in there. The wound heals in time.
I feel more like I do now than I did when I got here.

#463696 - 04/05/14 09:43 AM Re: Shame Revisited [Re: Jude]
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4166
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
i have also found that it is important to actively reject the shame - and put it back where it belongs - on the abusers and enablers. actually speak and write the facts: "IT WAS NOT MY FAULT. IT WAS YOUR FAULT, ___(INSERT NAMES HERE)___! I AM NOT TO BLAME. YOU ARE TO BLAME, ___________" etc.

repeat as needed!!!
"My experience has shown me that I all too often tend to deny that which lies behind, but as I still believe, that which is denied cannot be healed." Brennan Manning, "All is Grace - A Ragamuffin Memoir"

#463703 - 04/05/14 12:28 PM Re: Shame Revisited [Re: Jude]
genedebs Offline

Registered: 11/09/12
Posts: 316
Loc: MO
Dear Jude.

I absolutely agree with your definition is that shame is what I feel about my being. This is different from my feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. But that sense of being unloveable, bad, and unable to appreciate gifts because there is faults in my perception.

I cope with the shame that was heaped on my within my family of origin, (and their friends who also performed childhood sexual abuse of me.}
First I have to separate my sense of not being good enough and
being inadequate from my shame.

Then I can work on my shame. One aspect is to know it was not me. I did not ejaculate on my little brother, that was my older brother. The fact that I did not protect him, is a fact of my being 10 years old and not good enough, but that is not my shame.

When the friend of my mother raped me, and I did not even know he raped my little brother till two years later, but I was unable to protect him. That is my inadequacy, not my shame.

That when I was 6 years old and in the hospital for blood poisoning, my mother visited. She told me that this was proof
she loved me since she came to see me instead of doing something important. Love for me was obviously not important.

So I need to remember, the shame is not about today but about then. It is not 1956, 1958,1959, 1961, 1963 instead
it is 2014.

Second I have to accept that they are heaping their shame on me to avoid acknowledging their responsibility. My older brother molested me, his assaults and abuse are not my shame. That my mother blamed me for remaining in her relationship with my abusive father, being hit about once a week, for almost 55 years, is using me as a target of shame to avoid her
complicity in his abuse of her and her children.

After my mother had me undress in front of her friend the photographer when I was 12; she told the photographer to cut down the photos so I would not be embarrassed when I got older. Told me I should be ashamed of what I did. It was her shame not mine.

When I take each of these events (and many many more)I remember it is not who I am but what happened to me. It was not my fault, though I was blamed.

The fact that I believed I should have protected my mother and my brothers, means I am not a powerful as I wished I had been. I was "not good enough."

But no child could have lived up to my standards or the standards imposed on me. It is not shameful that I am not able to be who I would have wished I had been. It is a fact.

That is how I deal with my sense of shame. It is a process that I undertake when I remember an experience. But, I don't have to carry it on, till another memory attacks me.

I hope this is helpful.

Edited by genedebs (04/05/14 12:53 PM)
Edit Reason: bad typing

#463705 - 04/05/14 01:18 PM Re: Shame Revisited [Re: Jude]

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 3696
Shame brings more shame. It allows others to see our weaknesses and attack us or make us feel worthless. Shame silences us.

1lifenow wrote,

"Shame can only be felt by those with a capacity for connection and empathy, so the GOOD NEWS is you are not a sociopath!"

I agree wholeheartedly. Our abusers and enablers most likely do not have full capacity of connection and empathy.

My abuser never admitted the acts he inflicted on me and other altar boys. But the institution, the church, was able to give validation of the abuse and thus I have learned the institution has compassionate people but for me I believe my abuser does not have the capacity of connection or empathy. Is he a sociopath I can say.

I have learned my shame of the abuse rendered me unable to respond to new shame--acts that served as my doctor and T have said, re-victimized me and were triggers. Sadly, my shame nearly destroyed me and hurt others as well as allowing others to hurt me. But today shame for the abuse does not control me, I can now look at the abuse through the child's eyes and not the adult eyes. The abuse was not my fault.

I agree with Lee write it down and repeat it over and over--it was not my fault It was your fault (abusers name)........... .................

The sooner we stop feeling guilty and accept the shame is not ours but that of the abuser and enablers allows us to feel free of the abuse. Letting go is hard, because for many of us we buried it for decades and believed it was our shame, but it is not our shame--remember that. I remember it everyday now, reinforcing new beliefs and destroying old beliefs that nearly destroyed me.

Jude I am happy to read of your progress and can see your growth in your words. Keep going. This thread has been helpful and reinforces my need to continually remind myself it was not my fault nor is it my shame.

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