I have been so wrapped up in shame that I pretty much became a hermit in my own mind just to not have to face all of which I was afraid that people were judging me for. I totally closed, and I did not share my pain with anyone. I did not seek support and I did not look for guidance. Instead, I threw myself into fixing the arbitrary parts of my life just so that I did not have to deal with my shame, thinking subconsciously that if I do something great over here, maybe it will cancel out all that bad shit I did over there.
Meanwhile, my shame was doing pushups waiting for my next self proclaimed “failure” to attack!
When people feel shame, the focus of their evaluation is on the self or identity. Shame is a self-punishing acknowledgment of something gone wrong. It is associated with “mental undoing”. Studies of shame showed that when ashamed people feel that their entire self is worthless, powerless, and small, they also feel exposed to an audience -real or imagined- that exists purely for the purpose of confirming that the self is worthless. Shame and the sense of self is stigmatized, or treated unfairly, like being overtly rejected by parents in favor of siblings’ needs, and is assigned externally by others regardless of one’s own experience or awareness.
But you know what? Fuck all that and fuck shame! I have had enough. Shame is the lie that tells me that I am BAD and I can’t stay sober if I keep shaming myself about every mistake I have made. All I do is keep beating myself up for this shit and it’s not doing anything for me except for keeping me closer to a drink.
“Shame is a soul eating emotion.”
“Shame derives its power from being unspeakable.”
So I am done. Shit happens. No more shame for me!
When I decided to end my dysfunctional marriage I had no idea what laid ahead. I just took a leap of faith and went for it believing that whatever was on the other side was going to be way better than over here. I had no idea that I would break over and over again.
“If you want a breakthrough you must be open to a possibility of breaking.” – (heard somewhere)
And it sure was not pretty but maybe necessary? Because there is something very incredible about breaking down and rebuilding – every time I got to rebuild into a stronger and better me; a more understanding me that could have only emerged from this sort of experience. But still even in this circumstance shame was not necessary – it was almost as if I was giving myself more punishment than needed that held me hostage and stuck.
I make lots of mistakes and I also do a whole bunch of good stuff. I am no better or worse than others. I am just like everyone else, sometimes struggling, sometimes not. But always hoping for a better tomorrow.
So please, let us stop shaming ourselves! It is literally poisoning our minds and hearts. NO ONE IS PERFECT and IT IS OK NOT TO BE PERFECT!
This article has really helped me to get through my shame:
Shame is so personal! It’s a painful feeling of humiliation—that you’ve done something wrong or that there’s something disgraceful or embarrassing about you. It’s the secret emotion that can sit in you like a poison.
And the last thing you want to do is bring it out in the open. You think that all that will do is highlight your worst fears about yourself.
But here’s the possibility for you—the light that can begin to untangle shame:
This Tedtalk about shame from the amazing Brené Brown- had me crying and laughing all over it!
Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Brené Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)*, please check out the Sober Courage menu at the top of this page for an extensive list of support groups and recovery related articles.
*Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using (Ref: NIAAA).