Like a hurricane slowing down and the eye resting over a major city. I am that major city and the eye of the hurricane is nigh. it's finally hitting me. shame i never knew i felt, a feeling so surreal. i am an intelligent 31 year old man and i know that i am not to blame for anything, yet I feel all this shame.
Part of it is the reaction I have received from those closest to me. They're all happy I'm getting help. But I've put up such a believably successful facade and they think the facade is me... and most of it probably is. But there's a huge part they don't understand. The hurt, the self loathing, the self doubt, the need to please everyone, and most hurtfully, putting everyone else's needs before my own. Even on days where I'd be alone, I'd be pressured by my perceived expectations of everyone in my life "what should I be doing now." The reaction is, "great, I'm glad you're getting the help you need." It's rather belittling. I feel like they think I shouldn't need help or the trauma isn't as severe as I'm discussing it is. They want me to be that facade me I've put up so successfully for so long.
The image of the mother in "Perks..Wallflower" holding her son, telling him she was so sorry. Wow. So freaking powerful. I want that. I need that. I need to know that those around me are so sorry. This isn't something that just happened. This is so fucking traumatic and they don't get it. They're not emotionally connected. It certainly doesn't help that my abuser abused my sister as well and mentally abused my entire family growing up. His grip over us is palpable. **Even as I try to break free from it, I had a dream that he was attacking me, trying to put me in my place.**
Being abused isn't just some thing that people deal with like losing a puppy or moving away from your best friend. This is fucking HUGE... the implications and fallout significant. It's a BFD... you know, big fucking deal.
How do you men think about the shame of the act versus the shame others make you feel... are they one in the same? Is the shame I feel about the abuse projected onto how I take the reactions of those closest to me? I know they're doing their best, but I still feel like I can't trust anyone.
I feel like they don't give credit to the big deal that being raped is. I so want them too. I want to feel like I have the support to grieve. I can't even grieve because I don't know what I'm grieving, and as I write this, I'm not sure I feel like it's okay to grieve. I feel like I don't have the support of those around me.
May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground, carry on. ~Fun.
You definitely are an intelligent young man and its great that you realize on that intellectual level that you aren't to blame for what happened to you. Since I have ZERO degrees or training related to therapy, all I can say is that is what shame does. It envelopes us in that eery feeling before the storm strikes. Just like your analogy of being in the eye of the storm, knowing there is more to come.
But the storm passes. Sometimes there are lengthy spans of time where the shame abates itself and you feel real and awake to the world and aware of what you really are. And sometimes the shame arrives and it stays for a short time, and sometimes it may reside in the shadows for months, as it has for me this time.
Think real hard, C-Sur, and see if you can find the happening or remark or whatever to see what triggered this time. If you can identify who or what, you will be able to talk your way through. At least it works for me...except this time...he says will a tired chuckle....
All this to say, hang tough my friend, it will pass and remember- the shame belongs to the sob who hurt you. Give it back to him as soon as possible. Angels, brother man.
For now we see through a glass, darkly.
How do you men think about the shame of the act versus the shame others make you feel... are they one in the same?
I think shame is the product of all the negative beliefs about ourselves that were instilled in us by our abusers, either directly, or indirectly just by the abusive acts they perpatrated on us. Healing from shame comes as we change those beliefs about ourselves. Not an easy task, but progress can be made with good therapy and determination.
There is a great book by John Bradshaw called "Healing the Shame That Binds You". The link leads to a site where you can down load the e-book version for free. A partial video of his workshop by the same name is below:
I will remember you Will you remember me? Don't let your life pass you by Weep not for the memories Sarah McLachlan
Shame and guilt are so much a part of who we are from the abuse. It takes time, support and talking about what has happened. We can tell every other survivor they should not feel responsible or guilty for the abuse, they were a child but for ourselves we cannot accept-how sad-because we persecute ourselves for the abuse. I am a living example but through some stupid mistakes of telling many of the abuse through a so called private posting on Facebook (totally unintentionally) and hearing from people of their support and wishes that I heal I began to accept it was not my fault. Do not get me wrong, I still fall back to feeling shame and guilt. My last action of requesting sponsorship for the Race to End the Silence of CSA I told people I was a survivor. I heard from many but did not hear from others--and to be honest I now do not care what they think for not responding. I am stronger for doing it, but I do not hold any illusions that I am healed and free of the shame and abuse--but maybe I am on the way to healing. I know you can do it, but do it at your own pace. We all need to learn no matter how many times the abuse happened we were children--innocent and easily manipulated. I keep telling myself this and I am beginning to believe it.
Stay the course, but do not give up because the sea of healing is not all clear sailing--a few wind gusts and all hands on board and then the calm. Together we can help each other from going overboard.
Loc: somewhere in Africa
recent events have gotten me thinking on this very topic of shame. it occurred to me that there is a similarity between embarrassment and shame - more than just a matter of degree. and there is also a similarity between shame and guilt. i realized that sometimes i mistake shame for guilt. i feel like something is my fault and i am bad - not because i have done something or really am to blame - but because someone else has made me feel ashamed. and i cannot tell the difference. so i Googled the terms and discovered that there was actually somethng to this idea. here is the most significant part of what i found in the entry on shame on Wikipedia:
"Comparison with guilt and embarrassment
The location of the dividing line between the concepts of shame, guilt, and embarrassment is not fully standardized. According to cultural anthropologist Ruth Benedict, shame is a violation of cultural or social values while guilt feelings arise from violations of one's internal values. Thus, it is possible to feel ashamed of thought or behavior that no one knows about and to feel guilty about actions that gain the approval of others.
Psychoanalyst Helen B. Lewis argued that, "The experience of shame is directly about the self, which is the focus of evaluation. In guilt, the self is not the central object of negative evaluation, but rather the thing done is the focus." Similarly, Fossum and Mason say in their book Facing Shame that "While guilt is a painful feeling of regret and responsibility for one's actions, shame is a painful feeling about oneself as a person."
Following this line of reasoning, Psychiatrist Judith Lewis Herman concludes that "Shame is an acutely self-conscious state in which the self is 'split,' imagining the self in the eyes of the other; by contrast, in guilt the self is unified."
Clinical psychologist Gershen Kaufman's view of shame is derived from that of Affect Theory, namely that shame is one of a set of instinctual, short-duration physiological reactions to stimulation. In this view, guilt is considered to be a learned behavior consisting essentially of self-directed blame or contempt, with shame occurring consequent to such behaviors making up a part of the overall experience of guilt. Here, self-blame and self-contempt mean the application, towards (a part of) one's self, of exactly the same dynamic that blaming of, and contempt for, others represents when it is applied interpersonally.
Kaufman saw that mechanisms such as blame or contempt may be used as a defending strategy against the experience of shame and that someone who has a pattern of applying them to himself may well attempt to defend against a shame experience by applying self-blame or self-contempt. This, however, can lead to an internalized, self-reinforcing sequence of shame events for which Kaufman coined the term "shame spiral".
One view of difference between shame and embarrassment says that shame does not necessarily involve public humiliation while embarrassment does; that is, one can feel shame for an act known only to oneself but in order to be embarrassed one's actions must be revealed to others. In the field of ethics (moral psychology, in particular), however, there is debate as to whether or not shame ... does involve recognition on the part of the ashamed that they have been judged negatively by others.
... Shame may carry the connotation of a response to something that is morally wrong whereas embarrassment is the response to something that is morally neutral but socially unacceptable. Another view of shame and embarrassment says that the two emotions lie on a continuum and only differ in intensity. Simply put: A person who feels guilt is saying "I did something bad.", while someone who feels shame is saying "I am bad". There is a big difference between the two.
Subtypes • Genuine shame: is associated with genuine dishonor, disgrace, or condemnation. • False shame: is associated with false condemnation as in the double-bind form of false shaming; "he brought what we did to him upon himself". Author and TV personality John Bradshaw calls shame the "emotion that lets us know we are finite". • Secret shame: describes the idea of being ashamed to be ashamed, so causing ashamed people to keep their shame a secret. • Toxic shame: describes false, pathological shame, and Bradshaw states that toxic shame is induced, inside children, by all forms of child abuse. Incest and other forms of child sexual abuse can cause particularly severe toxic shame. Toxic shame often induces what is known as complex trauma in children who cannot cope with toxic shaming as it occurs and who dissociate the shame until it is possible to cope with."
i found it very enlightening. recognized lots of details from my experience. there is more under all of these 3 terms - but i don't have the energy to write about it right now.
Edited by traveler (04/22/1308:57 AM)
"That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. . . What will your verse be?" Robin Williams as John Keating in "Dead Poets Society"
Thanks for your post. I've also been recently thinking about "shame." It is by far the worst feeling I have felt from the abuse and some of the poor choices that I made because of it. It has a feeling that keeps you locked in, preventing you from making any changes. It's a prison and a deceiver.
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