For as long as I can remember, I have lived with silent shame.
If I did something “wrong” I shamed myself. If I spoke up and someone didn’t like it, I shamed myself. If I went out and got drunk, no matter what I did, I would feel shame … even if there was nothing to be ashamed about.
Shame has been that little voice inside of me that says “You’re a bad person. You don’t get to live your dreams or succeed. You’re not good enough. You are nothing. You are disgusting.”
I’ve tried to rip shame out of me through spiritual practices. I’ve tried to numb it and push it away. I’ve tried to run away from it. I’ve put on masks so no one would see the darkness within me.
Thankfully I realised that these feelings of shame were wounded parts of me crying out for Love and Healing. A scared little girl; a lost teenager; a worthless mother; and a woman who feels so disgusting and wrong, that she doesn’t deserve Love.
I can now see why I have felt shame. I see the belief-systems that say “I’m a bad person and unworthy”. Why is this programming in me? Trauma. Getting into trouble. Societal programs. Take your pick.
I no longer believe Shame is the enemy. It’s simply a really tough emotion to be with because of what lies beneath … all that unworthiness and not good enough’s; all that frozen trauma and fear.
I believe when we lean into our shame with Love and Compassion, we have the opportunity to bring ourselves back into wholeness.
If you’re reading this and feeling really uncomfortable and want to run and hide, I totally get it. I’ve been there. I’ve hidden from shame most of my life.
But I can’t hide anymore. It hurts too much. My Body has been so blocked with toxic shame, that I have no choice but to let it out.
I’ve chosen to bring my Shame into the Light. I’ve chosen to become friends with my Shame.
For me to do this, I needed to get clear on how shame was expressing through my body.
Numbness. “Trying to please” behaviour. Strong urge to run away and hide. Suicidal thoughts. Disconnection – from myself and others. Feelings of not being good enough. Self-criticism. Self-punishment. Stress. Anxiety. Panic. Shutdown of positive emotion. Dark thoughts. Wanting to give up. Judging others in a negative way.
So now when I become aware of these feelings, I understand that Shame is here, and it’s time to lean into myself with Love and Compassion.
I allow myself to feel and to be with the uncomfortable feelings in my Body. I keep asking myself what I need to feel safe and nourished. And when the dark thoughts come, I choose to not believe them.
I forgive myself for any self-criticising self-punishing behaviour I’ve projected at myself. I forgive myself for any times I’ve hurt another (even if it was judging from afar).
I choose to exercise and not reach for food to shove the shame back down into numbness. I choose to let go of all the self-blame that I’ve been holding in my body.
I choose to let Love in; not just from others, but from me too.
And if I get lost in the Shame, and find myself in numbness, forgetting all those wise choices, I choose to meet myself where I’m at – wrapping myself up in Love and Compassion. Because I don’t deserve to criticise myself for simply trying to cope.
I don’t believe Shame is our enemy. I believe it’s a message from our Bodies letting us know that there is a part of us that is craving our Love.
(If you are struggling in the darkness of shame and can’t find a way through, please seek help – whether from a trusted friend (who you know can hold space) or a therapist. Sometimes it’s hard to go it alone. Sometimes we need another to be a guiding a Light for us.)
Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash