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#429598 - 03/30/13 11:58 PM Confronting shame (by feeling it)
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 323
Loc: NY
Sometimes I feel like some kind of oddball for choosing to feel things. Here's why I do it:

For a long time, I had lots of theories about relationships and why they worked or didnít work. After doing a lot of reflection, I now see that there are two basic emotions that have kept me prisoner: fear and shame. What scares me is that if I donít accept their existence, I am haunted by the thought that I would do what other people have done, which is allow these emotions to cause me to hurt others.

This describes the dilemma I have that the more I try to cope with these emotions by avoiding them or keeping them at a distance, the more they seem to control me. The only way that I find I can truly heal is--to feel them. It may be sad, but it is also true that by getting to know these feelings, I feel more, and also feel more of me.

The way that fear and shame usually get acted out is through some kind of sexual pain being expressed in a destructive way. By accepting their presence in my life I am trying to make the choice not to act out on them.

My family is articulate, well-read, and relatively literate in the emotional area. Nonetheless, because they donít want to grow through feeling these primary feelings, it has been impossible to have an honest and straightforward conversation about the pain of our lives.

Over the years, I have gotten more and more information about what I had grown up with in my family of origin. Iím beginning to see how my family may have acted out on a subtle level, but in a way that was still harmful. Now that I have my own children, it seems that my own childhood memories are dying to be understood. They want to be understood and felt, not just known as fact.

My fatherís ďopenĒ relationship with my mother could be considered by people of their time as liberating for both of them. My motherís family was somewhat repressed and she liked my fatherís outgoing charm and overall apparent emotional availability. She was not the one who suggested the relationship be open but thatís how it was. For 35 years. They eventually divorced.

It would seem that such a relationship would free people of fear and shame via sexual liberation. The unfortunate reality is that although I enjoyed my childhood very much, it left me very confused with regard to these emotions. My mother has left me in fear of getting close to her or anyone else because she couldnít control herself around me. And now that I am a father, wanting to stay committed to someone and make a family, I feel real undeniable, adult shame (and of course, anger) about my father never being faithful with my mother. Although my mother found a way to dampen this feeling forever, by imagining that it didnít exist, its power refuses to go away in my own life. When I try to deny the shame I have about his behavior, as I did habitually all my life, I end up feeling very, very confused.

Talking to my family can sometimes feel like existing as some kind of distorted mirror. Itís as if Iím being asked to mirror back to them some reality that doesnít actually exist. When I mirror back to them the true reality, the one that has shame in it, at least my feet can find the ground.

I know that talking about what has happened to people outside my family can help me feel less ashamed in the bigger sense. But no matter what happens with people outside of my family, no matter what I say to people outside my family, the denial of shameful feelings within the family makes it all the more important for me to feel the shame when it occurs, not just go numb and stay that way. If I donít feel the shame, Iím subject to getting out of my true self, my true mind, my true body and being lead around in some sort of shadow existence. I can end up feeling that my family of origin is my only true home when I want to make a new home with someone. I can end up feeling that I canít betray my family of origin when the real me is not guilty of anything. Itís as if the shame we grew up with is the only thing that is still holding us together. By choosing to feel it, I'm also choosing to face the fear that they are still my family, no matter what happens.

Perhaps I am stating a paradox whose power only I can understand. There is a bigger feeling that underlies shame, namely fear. And that fear may be of many things. That will have to be explored some other time, but for now Iíll say that in general, fear just keeps me away from the world.

I would like to know if anyone else ever feels the need to feel something just so it stops holding you prisoner. Thanks.
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#429599 - 03/31/13 12:10 AM Re: Confronting shame (by feeling it) [Re: focusedbody]
Jude Online   content


Registered: 08/09/12
Posts: 1490
Loc: New England
Hey FocusedBody,

Thanks for posting. Its very well written and insightful. But yeah, feeling our feelings is a big part of recovery. Many of us spent years numbing our feelings with sex, drugs, and alcohol, to avoid dealing with the shame, fear, and pain. Anything to avoid facing those feelings, and as a result amplifying their power over us.

Personally, now that I'm sober in all areas, I have to feel EVEYTHING and it sucks. But its what NORMAL people do. Face the feelings and deal with them. I guess in that sense I'm finally normal. What, me?

Jude
_________________________
"But now old friends are acting strange,
they shake their heads, they say I've changed.
Something's lost but something's gained in living every day
....it's life's illusions I recall, I really don't know life at all. "
Joni Mitchell

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#429661 - 03/31/13 08:48 PM Re: Confronting shame (by feeling it) [Re: focusedbody]
traveler Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3322
Loc: somewhere in Africa
Originally Posted By: focusedbody
Sometimes I feel like some kind of oddball for choosing to feel things.
...I now see that there are two basic emotions that have kept me prisoner: fear and shame.

i know exactly what you mean by this - it is not a pleasant or easy thing to feel all those painful emotions - that is why i repressed the memories for years. but eventually the bill comes dues and must be paid in full. those are the main emotions -and for me the shame is comprised in large part of the fear of exposure and rejection. if i could i would continue to avoid it. but that just continues to mess me up - so i have to choose to deal with it, in order to move through and get to the other side. no U-turns allowed!

Originally Posted By: focusedbody
This describes the dilemma I have that the more I try to cope with these emotions by avoiding them or keeping them at a distance, the more they seem to control me. The only way that I find I can truly heal is--to feel them. It may be sad, but it is also true that by getting to know these feelings, I feel more, and also feel more of me.

yep - by giving up the attempt to control my feelings, i actually become free of their control - for a while they have the upper hand - but the long-term benefits are worth it. and then i become more authentically my true self - embracing the "dark" parts of my history that have contributed to who i am today - instead of pretending to be someone i am not.

Originally Posted By: focusedbody
Perhaps I am stating a paradox whose power only I can understand. There is a bigger feeling that underlies shame, namely fear. And that fear may be of many things. That will have to be explored some other time, but for now Iíll say that in general, fear just keeps me away from the world.

good insight - as i said above - the two are very closely linked in my experience.

Originally Posted By: focusedbody
I would like to know if anyone else ever feels the need to feel something just so it stops holding you prisoner. Thanks.


YES - you nailed it - good work!
Lee


Edited by traveler (03/31/13 08:56 PM)
_________________________
As my life goes on I believe somehow something's changed
Something deep inside...
I've been searchin so long to find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning
Now I see myself as I am, feeling very free...
When my tears have come to an end I will understand
What I left behind: a part of me. Chicago


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#429798 - 04/02/13 09:33 AM Re: Confronting shame (by feeling it) [Re: focusedbody]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 323
Loc: NY
Thanks, Jude and Traveler:

This is an important battle for me to fight. My family was very good at getting around some primary emotions. Sometimes I think its an occupational hazard of being creative and imaginative. There is always somewhere fun to escape to in your mind.

Now I am trying to let my body tell me what's really going on, because it doesn't lie or experience the kind of confusion that comes from memories or the many unanswered questions I walk around with.

At the moment, I'm having a difficult time with my sensorimotor therapist, who is a woman. I tried to educate her a little on the importance of acknowledging how shame continues to rule my inner psyche. Exposing this to her is a slow and kind of tortuous process, but I can sense how necessary it is to having any kind of realistic communication, which seems to be the foundation for interpersonal dynamics.

What's so very hard right now is the little boy in me who understands how no one really took responsibility for any of this. My mother who messed me up is actually trying to something like that now. It only happens when I remind her and require it of her, but she is genuinely trying. What's frightening is when other women, like my therapist, taking on a shaming tone towards my Mom and what happened. It sends me back into a world of people clandestinely shaming each other where I get lost and have nothing of what I need.

Thanks for listening and being there. Hope to have more to say in the future, but for now I will gently and thankfully slow down again to help me remember how to be me.

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#429958 - 04/03/13 12:39 PM Re: Confronting shame (by feeling it) [Re: focusedbody]
OCN Offline


Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 217
Loc: Western Europe
hej FB

Great you're working on this! I am struggling with this too, since i have been confronted with old pains. I realize that just like you i never really learned how to deal with strong emotions.

reading you're actually feeling them gives me the strength to do it too - all at a slow pace i hope. To realize that life is more than just being numbed down has be an awakening call to me.

And to read that strong men like you are actually working an dealing with it, helps me to move on on my own path. Thank you for sharing!
_________________________
Trust me, you are worth it to love yourself!

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