Do you think you struggle with shame?

triptych

Learning
Have recently started “It Wasn’t Your Fault” by Beverly Engel. The book talks a lot about how to heal shame imposed by traumatic events. I’ve never related to the concept of shame before but, after discussing it with friends, I realised I do experience feelings related to/caused by shame I previously didn’t acknowledge even having. I think feeling so ashamed of events and emotions I blot them out and don't acknowledge they actually had an impact on me has been a big part of my experience. In some ways, I think I am ashamed of feeling shame.

Do you feel like you have a difficult relationship to shame? Has your relationship to shame changed throughout the years and if so what changed it?
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
Yup. I struggle with shame. It's had a big effect on me over the years and affected my personality and relationships with people. I acknowledge it though and have always made an effort to apologise though if I felt I needed too, in life. I've suffered from trauma and mental health issues all my life. I've experienced terrible things and have nearly died several times. Despite my efforts in life too make something of myself, it's always turned to shit because I made too many mistakes and didn't have help or guidance. The thing is Everyone experiences shame and embarrassment in their life at some point to a greater or lesser degree.

I used to drink alot and smoke alot because I was hiding behind those drugs to cope (badly). I ended up having a major heart attack. So I had no choice but to completely stop smoking and drinking. I was having counselling before covid but now have to cope and try to process those feelings on my own with limited support.
It's good to try and make amends with your past as best you can and learn from your mistakes but at the same time at some point you need to forgive yourself and stop beating yourself up. You can't let your past define your future. Moving on with a positive attitude is important. I still struggle with the trauma, abuse and humiliation that I suffered from other people. It can be crippling but I can't control other people so I stay away from toxic people or relationships.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
100%
I decided, and have believed this *for decades* that I hold no regrets and absolutely no shame at all. It's been my mantra in life: never regret. For some reason I view regret and shame in similar ways. I'm only now realising, in my 40's, just how much shame I hold.
It's so incredibly hard to let go my narrative that *I hold no shame*. Because I think that narrative is rooted in the narrative that I wasn't assaulted and raped: that nothing traumatic happened, therefore nothing to feel shame about.
But actually, the opposite is true.
I hold shame about me, my body, my expressions of sex, what happened, what I did in the moments of trauma, what I did as a consequence of trauma. Etc etc etc.
Realising how much shame there is, at this moment of time, feels like a very heavy weight to carry. So I totally relate about feeling shame about feeling shame!
It now feels odd that for these last 30 years I've not realised how much shame I have about all these things. But there you go.

How to make it better? I'm working on that. But I think the answer lies in acceptance, forgiving ourselves and grieving for our losses. My T also says that letting the power of shame go has something to do with putting responsibility for what happened on the perpetrators rather than me. I don't know your trauma, so not sure if that helps you or not.

Hope you make peace with it all.
 

Friday

Moderator
Do you feel like you have a difficult relationship to shame? Has your relationship to shame changed throughout the years and if so what changed it?
I think shame is difficult, rather than that I have a difficult relationship to it. (Trust, on the other hand, I have a veeeeery difficult relationship with.)

Probably the most complicated part of shame for me to work with I discussed here >>> When Guilt & Shame Is Well Earned <<< Although it’s a bit vexing that because of other things going on in my life at the time, I couldn’t really thrash it out with people; but there were still a helluva lot of great thoughts, even 3 years later I’d really like to break it out and kick it around again... I very much appreciated the time people took to respond. I was just a bit of a wreck right that moment.

Whilst that’s the most complicated part for me, arguably the most difficult, is other people & their beliefs around shame. But that’s just geography. Being around people with wildly different belief systems is almost always a helluva lot more difficult than being around people who share them.

As far as my relationship changing over the years? No. Not really. I’ve gotten a lot better at not claiming credit for shit that ain’t mine... but that’s a different thing. Related, certainly, but it’s not as if shame ceases to exist when you only feel shame for shit you should feel shame for, ya know? The single biggest change to my relationship with shame was a one time deal, and it happened between one breath and the next... a very very long time ago... When I stopped accepting other people’s morals as writ, and had to create my own moral code. That part took a long time. Years. But the moment my trust in what I’d been taught to believe, expect, strive for, fight for, feel proud of, feel shame for, et al, shattered? It was instantaneous. It broke when I did.
 
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enough

MyPTSD Pro
I think anything that makes us feel like we arent living up to the societal norm brings guilt and shame. We are wired to not get voted off the island, banished from the clan, set adrift on an ice flow. It has to be one of our first formed thoughts, right after fight or flight survival thoughts and make babies thoughts we must have somewhere realized that acceptance was better than the alternative for our own survival.
Kids blame themselves for the divorce, attention from our parents is worth throwing a sibling under the bus for, even Stockholm syndrome has roots in group acceptance.

If it is wired at that deep a level in our pre language thought processes, is it any wonder that when we voice our feelings about not being "normal" we use the word shame?

"thats just pride, [email protected] with you. [email protected] pride" Ving Rhames as Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction.

Yeah. thats a hard one. Too much pride to admit how much shame we feel to a therapist that we pay to remain objective. I sure don't like sharing things that have shamed me, but when I do I hear the words and I think "well what the hell, I was 11 and didn't know better. No shame, admitting I did or said or thought something at eleven isn't going to get me voted off the island but it sure felt like it before I said it outloud and heard it.

We are amazing pieces of work, sometimes you just have to stand back and admire it:

Guilt and shame cause lifelong feelings that we have to make right or hide, this causes money we earn to go to therapists we hire- for longer periods than might otherwise be necessary because we have guilt, shame, pride gumming up the healing process.

Some of the happiest people I know are also the least inhibited by public reaction to their art, clothing, hairstyles, music, etc. etc.

"Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice, pull down your pants and slide on the ice", Allan Franklin Arbus as Dr. Sidney Freedman on MASH
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
Have recently started “It Wasn’t Your Fault” by Beverly Engel. The book talks a lot about how to heal shame imposed by traumatic events. I’ve never related to the concept of shame before but, after discussing it with friends, I realised I do experience feelings related to/caused by shame I previously didn’t acknowledge even having. I think feeling so ashamed of events and emotions I blot them out and don't acknowledge they actually had an impact on me has been a big part of my experience. In some ways, I think I am ashamed of feeling shame.

Do you feel like you have a difficult relationship to shame? Has your relationship to shame changed throughout the years and if so what changed it?
I laugh now, but when my first T asked me if I felt shame.......I had no connection to the word. I was proud to say, No shame here....LOL.....yeah, well....feeling it now.
 

piratelady

MyPTSD Pro
I feel immense shame about the past. Even as we’ve been processing it and I’ve learned to understand where the blame goes, I can’t let go of the shame I feel. As I type this, I think that’s a big piece of why I’m still stuck on it now, despite all the work Therapist and I have done.
Have recently started “It Wasn’t Your Fault” by Beverly Engel.
What do you think of the book? Is it worth buying?
I think feeling so ashamed of events and emotions I blot them out and don't acknowledge they actually had an impact on me has been a big part of my experience. I
Do you think that by not acknowledging the events and the shame that it makes the experience have a bigger impact on you and your life today? Like denying it maybe gives it more power?
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
Yes - I struggle with shame - even over things I know logically there is no reason to feel shame over. But logic is not an emotion! So while I can think my self out of any thoughts , I cannot think myself out of the feelings.

shame is often something that is external - Something about perception rather than reality . Something about culture rather than what is ‘moral’ or ‘ethical’ or in tune with our integrity . I have found I can feel shame and feel I did the right thing concurrently - and that’s difficult . But logical - think how many times we see shameless, but immoral / out side socially accepted norm behaviour) .
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
I see my shame with two different lenses:
Shame - natural reaction to situations that require shame - coming conscious of losing a face to a friend or in public and hopefully having the strength to apologize or at least recognize it and shudder and move on.
or,
SHAME - with capital letters cause it is so amplified, so huge, so deeply cutting my core, and my gut reaction is to shut it down, oppress it, avoid it, and start to elaborate many ways to avoid it - kill it if I could.

The first I accept as part of being a human, an adult. It comes and goes and shows I care and I am not a robot.
The second, I take it (or try to take it) to therapy cause I can rationally feel it is not from today. it is a carry on and if I am lucky, I can download it and digest it...but its well is too deep. So it continues for now.

At least at minimum, I can see the difference and that soothes me when I need it.
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
The therapist said I was “hollowed out” by shame. Idk if I struggled with it because I don’t think I was able to recognize it for what it was. I know now looking back I was intentionally making myself feel ashamed with my behavior so I’d feel punished always. I think I was really afraid of that so I was drawn to it in a kind of pathology. You know how you don’t want that oh no, here I am again feeling? I can laugh at it now a little. Like whistling through the graveyard at night.
 

WonderWriter

Learning
I was sexually assaulted at 4yo and 9 yo, but I think my shame stems from what happened after the assault when I was 9. My dad and his sister (I no longer speak to them, btw) forced me to be examined by a doctor b/c my dad didn’t believe me when I said there wasn’t any penetration. My parents were also going through a divorce, and my dad announced he planned to use whatever the doctor found to get custody of me (only me, not my brother) from my mom. I felt my dad’s actions caused more shame than the predator who attacked me. I’m not sure atm, if I’m just confused or if that is a possibility?
 
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