Addressing shame


Being so new to cptsd treatment can be very confusing for me. Heres a few things that affect me daily.

I suffer from crippling toxic shame. The type of shame that stops me mid sentence. My body floods with adrenaline and my face gets purple. At times, especially recently, I almost pass out. My shame is almost always sexual in nature. I have a sexual thought and BANG! The other severe reaction is when I am speaking to a large group or I view myself from someone else's perspective.

As I'm researching and working with a therapist im running into so many new theories and practices that its making my head spin. So far I've got:

Inner Critic
Inner Children
Integrated family systems
Emotional Flashbacks
Attachment styles

I mean I could go on and on. The bottom line is that I am willing to do anything not to feel this level of shame anymore and I need help.

I guess what I'm asking is...
What is the most productive means by which you've addressed your shame?


Thought I would throw in some helpful info that I've found so far. They all feel true to my situation.

- Toxic shame began to develop when i first identified with my abusers view. Ex. I didn't agree with my stepfather that I was ugly, his comments would anger me... until one day I could see where he was coming from, his comments then gave us an idea to agree upon.

- A lifetime of reinforcing this view has given me a hair trigger highjacked amygdala. Any remotely critical statement about my physical appearance activates my 4f response and a reaction called the abandonment melange.

- The abandonment mélange is the fear and toxic shame that surrounds and interacts with the abandonment depression. The abandonment depression itself is the deadened feeling of helplessness and hopelessness that afflicts traumatized children.

- Toxic shame also inhibits us from seeking comfort and support. In a reenactment of the childhood abandonment we are flashing back to, we often isolate ourselves and helplessly surrender to an overwhelming feeling of humiliation.

- The yin to my shame yang seems to be a combination of vulnerability with others and thought-stopping my relentless inner critic. Both illicit incredible surges of fear.

Some quotes that push me forward:

"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness."

"You either walk inside your story and own it, or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness."

"Shame loves secrecy. The most dangerous thing to do after a shaming experience is hide or bury our story. When we bury our story, the shame metastasizes."


I relate to this so much. I remember being like 16 and having a panic attack because I found Emma Stone attractive.

I thought I was having a heart attack. At that point I felt so much shame about being gay that I thought ya this makes sense.

I was a full time missionary at the time. I was also in school, working a part time job, and babysitting on the side. I was doing so much constantly because I was avoiding admitting to myself I had any sexual thoughts.

One day I was trying to pick a hair cut and saw a picture Emma Stone. My mom brought me to the hospital. the doctor told me I was having a panic attack. He asked if anything brought it on with my mom in the room. Boy panic literally panic during a panic attack trying to come up with a lie.

Thank God that doctor saw my face and immediately said a lot of the time it comes out of nowhere. I said yep it came out of nowhere.

Don't get me wrong I still get that shame so much shame. I just don't have panic attacks or self harm when I have thoughts any more.

What helped me most thought was finding other people like me. Talking to others and realizing I definitely wasn't the only one attracted to Emma Stone.

Also I have some other stuff around my sexuallity that stems from being molested as a kid. But I talked about it here and I also was part of a sexual assault support group that honestly made me feel so much better. I wasn't a bad person because my sexual assault affected me... it just did and other people reacted in a similar way.

Also therapy!! I told my therapist that I feel like I am constantly thinking about sex and I'm not normal.
She asked, is that actually true? or has all of your sexual thoughts just stood out because they are in bold rainbow print?

So basically what helped me is realizing MOST PEOPLE THINK ABOUT SEX. I promise your not abnormal or bad because you do to. I just needed to have stuff normalize I guess.

I don't know you feel about God but I also realized God doesn't hate me... because God doesn't hate anyone. I honestly believed that almighty God hated me because the sexual thoughts I have. Then I realized how small I was making God he is unimaginably bigger, better, and more loving then that.

It's complicated and non linear I don't think I will ever 100% get rid of the shame but I can at least handle it now without feeling like I'm going to pass out. You got this it's just not going to go away over night.
This is crazy because it’s almost exactly like me. I wish I could find a support group honestly. I just wanted to have sex with anybody and everybody and the real shameful thing about it was I wanted to be molested . Who knew the difference anyway? It feels good so it must be ok? I didn’t realise though I already had been. Like I had a desire to be punished . Being a teenager and all hormonal was the worst and yes, I thought I’d pass out thinking about the things I wanted to do or had already done. Several pathological behaviors developed around this. Feeling intense shame and pleasure at the same time .

I have actually processed a lot of it and I feel better through about 10 years of therapy. But shame is a really hard one I nearly committed suicide over it. Not wanting to tell anyone. I still am very limited around dealing with people .

I knew some things about my feelings and behavior, but not why. When I started to fill in some of the blanks, when I realized I wasn’t born that way and I didn’t choose to be like that but that CSA caused it I started to feel better. It took a long time though and the therapist had to really hang in there with me.
Being a teenager and all hormonal was the worst and yes, I thought I’d pass out thinking about the things I wanted to do or had already done
Ya being a teenager is already hard enough. Add on top of it feeling about sex that your peers are not having. It's easy to feel a lot of shame.

And it's so intense because at least for me I had already had this sexual thing happen to me at 6. I had already built this model of attraction around this insane thing that happened to me.

So once those feelings were ment to start it was really intense. And I felt like a monster I didn't remember what happened to me as a kid at the time but I was basically already super kinky at 11. I felt like a freak.
Feeling intense shame and pleasure at the same time .
This yes, this exactly! It was already set things I was into I couldn't/ can't change. And because I was a teenager and was being abused at home (not in a sexual way but verbal abuse and medical neglect) these kinky things became my only escape.

It became such a big secret also though because my family is so religious. I wasn't supposed to be mastubating... especially to porn... especially to kinky porn... I for sure was not supposed to be mastubating to kinky porn involving girls.

So it was just kinda a lot. And I was sick at the time also but my parents weren't bringing me to doctors. But I had a hormonal issue and was menstruating for literally month at a time none stop with terrible cramps.

The only thing that made me feel any better or gave me any pleasure was also this thing I had intense shame around.
I have actually processed a lot of it and I feel better through about 10 years of therapy. But shame is a really hard one I nearly committed suicide over it. Not wanting to tell anyone.
I'm really glad you have processed a lot of this stuff. I hope you do find a support group. Sorry for dumping a bunch of stuff I just hope you know your not alone in any of what you just said. I'm right there on a lot of it. I'm still processing.

I have definitely been suicidal over this stuff. It sucks especially when the things you "want" are not really stuff you want. Like fantasies about getting hurt or hurting someone else.

Ya when I remembered what happened to me it was like everything clicked into place. Oh this is why I feel the way I feel. I really had a hard time handling it though. I didn't want it to be true what happened to me as a kid. It made to much sense though to pretend it wasn't true.
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What is the most productive means by which you've addressed your shame?

Shame is internal.
Humiliation is external. It requires an audience.
Both can exist at the same time.

^^^ Untangling those 2 things? Inordinately helpful in the Anïs Nin sense of “Shame is the lie someone told you about yourself.” IE What do YOU actually believe? Is EVERYONE to be judged as you judge yourself? These are fundamental beliefs you feel to be right & true? Or are these someone else’s beliefs about you, that you’ve internalised, whilst holding everyone else to a different standard? (because they aren’t actually YOUR beliefs.)

What’s left after outside influence is kicked to the curb, instead of being internalized? What I’m ACTUALLY ashamed of. Usually for damn good reason.

Which leads into a different untangling…

Shame is present tense.
Regret is past tense.
Ashamed bridges that gap.

When my past is intruding onto my present? There is neither gap, nor bridge. I’ll feel shame -very present tense- for things I SHOULD be feeling regret &/or remorse for. Which are both 2 very different things.