The Voices Of & For Parenting Surivors

It’s a Shame About Shame

Shame has a crushing feel to it. I think to those that have felt or continue to feel shame, it’s suddenly having a spot light aimed on you. It’s the turning of your stomach, like a cement truck, endlessly twisting what’s inside. Shame is that instant jerk of my head, so as not to force another person to have to look me in the eyes. It’s the belief that I am damaged goods, and everyone knows it.

Shame is a burden I have carried most of my life. It seems to come with the territory of being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. It wasn’t something I identified as a consequence of the abuse. Growing up, I didn’t know life without it. I felt like I walked around with a neon, flashing light on my forehead that said, “Don’t look, I’m gross.”

Shame is still present in my life. It doesn’t consume me, but becomes an occasional reckoning force. Nothing turns that spotlight on as bright as talking about being a mother suffering with depression and suicidal ideations.

When people talk about suicide, it often lacks an empathetic tone. I don’t fault people for this. It’s not my wish that anyone should feel a pit so deep in their soul, that they crave to feel nothing at all instead.

I’ve been in many conversations where the word “selfish” has been used to describe someone’s decision to attempt and/or succeed at suicide. People say things like, “He has a good life – why can’t he just see that?” Believe me, he can. That’s what makes the coat of shame so thick. In spite of everything he may have –  family, money, love – his brain will win every time.

I used to immediately slouch my shoulders and look away from others when the topic of mental illness or sexual abuse would come up. I would feel as if I was burdening others to know they were talking about me. The secret that I am that tainted person, may upset them, so best to just sink in to the pavement.

Shame makes you feel like it is not your choice whether or not you can openly talk about what was done to you, or what was etched in to your DNA. I never felt like I was allowed to let anyone know that I genuinely have felt like suicide was an option. I didn’t know how to not put someone else’s comfort level above my own.

I’ve learned though, that drawing attention to the fact that I can empathetically talk about the subject of depression and abuse actually heals me. Discussing it has become one of the most effective tools I own. I can help control the conversation when I use the unfortunate knowledge I have. Even so, it doesn’t come without a strong pull on my chin to look at the ground when I actually do join a conversation. I try my best to fight it.

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People talk about fighting stigma but go about combatting it in a processed, packaged way. The stigma exists because of the shame. Lets start accepting that to be worrisome or embarrassed over what you can control, is to be ashamed. Feeling shamed, is what happens when something is done to you. One is always without choice. Understanding the difference is critical, and can in fact save lives.

**Originally featured on Crazy Good Parent

trigger points cover~Breaking the Silence, Breaking the Cycle of Abuse

We hope you’ll join our supportive Facebook community, where the challenges and successes parenting-survivors of childhood abuse face are brought to light. You can read personal stories written by mothers and fathers about their experiences of parenting as an abuse survivor in the Trigger Points Anthology, available on AmazonDawn and Joyelle are currently running a call for submissions for the Fathering as a Survivor Interview Series.

 

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5 thoughts on “It’s a Shame About Shame

  1. This is so brilliant. I am the sunflower with its face to the wall. You articulate so well what I experience so commonly it’s like I forget there’s an alternative. Can really relate to the neon sign feeling. I have an urge to hide away with my shame, hate to see myself reflected back through others. I fantasize about living in a deep burrow in the ground where I can hibernate and be at ease. But it’s lonely down there.
    I find it excrutiating to feel seen when I feel vulnerable and really struggle with eye contact or even showing my face at these times. I’ve just finished working with a psychologist and after a year and I couldn’t describe to you what she looked like because I never looked at her. I’m really hoping to have a break through some time soon with my shame – I feel shame about everything – being a survivor of a messed up family, sexual, physical, emotional abuse, being an unloveable child, having no extended family, the madness I have experienced, not being appreciative of the good things in my life and still struggling with suicidal ideation and self harm impulses as someone who has actively chosen to be a mother. Shame for not being happier, surviving better, etc. You raise the issue of choice – so often it is presented/suggested/pushed that happiness is a choice, as is surviving well, and I feel shame for not making that choice, but I get so tangled with it, surely I would choose it if it was a choice. There are so many barriers to making that choice, but I guess I am becoming more aware of them and aspiring to dissolve and dismantle them with compassion, which is still alien to me. Thanks for sharing this, it’s fab when things resonate so strongly. This helps me feel less ashamed, just to know you struggle too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I find it excrutiating to feel seen when I feel vulnerable”…boy did that hit a nerve. Even though I have come a long way in my own healing, I still struggle with that feeling. I want to be like that toddler that puts his hands over his eyes in hopes that no one else can see him. Even though I know that doesn’t work. Old habits die hard. I appreciate you reading and sharing. I can identify with nearly every word of your comment. And that helps.

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  2. “…I am damaged goods…” Yup. For decades I wore and invisible sign on my forehead that read, “used goods.” I was crap, worthless, a piece of shit. Used. And then one day when I was doing some hypnotherapy work with a gal, trying to lose weight, I had an unexpected healing from an angel. It surprised me and healed that shame. Since then, I’ve found a different hypnotherapist to work with, who has helped he heal a lot of the trauma I endured as a child.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and sharing that part of your story. I have never heard from anyone who has used hypnotherapy as part of their treatment. It seems very interesting. Have you ever written on the topic?

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      1. Yes. A bit of what I write about is my healing journey. If you look at my category of hypnosis, those are healing experiences that happened during hypnosis sessions. I have over the past few months had 4 more session with incredible healing happening. Still need to write about it all.

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