Shame is deadly! It kills souls. It prevents life from unfolding.
Most of us have been in a place where we felt ashamed of something. It’s shamefull to even be ashamed. And to say it out loud makes us at risk for being the laugh and the talk of the town. We don’t want that.
But, the problem with that is, we ALL have shame in our lives. And there is ONE thing that makes shame evaporate: Talking about it.
Yeah, I know – sort of contradicts the point of shame, which is to withdraw. But when we say the monters name out loud, we vanish it. I wrote it in my bestseller “Your Hero’s Journey – how to get rid of the negative sideeffects of your childhood” and I will keep repeating it till the day I die: Words are magic and sharing makes life so much easier. Because others will see you in it, comfort you and feel comforted themselves in their own path.
So – I won’t demand that you do a wall of shame, but I will share my own, horrible, sad, embarrassing list of things that made me ashamed of myself. A lot of it doesn’t even make sense.
Hopefully I can inspire you to share your shame and get rid of it that way!
- As a teenager, I was ashamed that I have small eyes and big mouth. Teenagers often are ashamed of their own looks, so it’s pretty common and you might recognize it. I was told that big eyes and a small mouth was sexy and it was implied, but never said out loud, that sexy was important and good.
- I was ashamed that my mother was an alcoholic. I couldn’t put it into words back then, but I learned and the shame was about me not being as important as the beer. That’s how it felt. And since parents are God-like, only I can be the faulty one. That was very shameful!
- My father sent me on vacation alone far away from my home with strangers when I was 10 years old – 2 old people who had an antique shop. I was bored and switched all the pricetags without even thinking about why and when they found out – because they had to sell something too cheap because of a wrong pricetag – they sent me home. In shame.
- When I tried sex for the first time, it was tedious and smelly. I did not like it. I was 16 which was a very common age to start having sex in Denmark back in the 1980’s. Again, since the whole world thought so highly about sex, I must be the faulty one. Oh, the shame of not loving this. I remember thinking “I have to do this to get love from men – for the rest of my life”.
- I contemplated suicide when I was 19. Life had no meaning. I had no friends and I was lonely and felt unlovable. I didn’t talk to anyone, because I was afraid of all the things they would find to be wrong with me.
- I made a choice to break contact with my father in 2005. He was narcissistic and couldn’t respect boundaries. I wrote him a letter taking responsibility for my “break-up”. I was ahsamed for the break up for 2 years.
- He wrote my then-mother in law a letter where he stated that it would kill him. And in 2011 he committed suicide. I really had to chant “Other peoples lives are not my responsibility. Not even my fathers. Other peoples lives are not my responsibility. Not even my fathers. Other peoples lives are not my responsibility. Not even my fathers. Other peoples lives are not my responsibility. Not even my fathers.” But the shame was overwhelming. He left a suicide note stating it WAS my fault and part of me felt he was right.
- I fell in love with an alcoholic. I wanted to leave him, but I couldn’t – there was too much good stuff in between the drinking. Back then, I was trying to become a respected psychotherapist and I was sure everyone would loose faith in me if they knew. I was so ashamed. Even when talking to friends about it. When I turned it upside down and started looking at my own ability to respect people who stay with addicts, it changed. Respecting and understanding them, made me respect me. Again – sharing is healing.
- My thriller “Dead Men” was a dead fish. Everybody who read it, loved it, but right as I published it, the biggest crime authors of Denmark published his new book and my book drowned and never got any publicity. It sold 100 copies. I nearly bid the carpet – people kept asking me why they hadn’t seen more about it when it was so great – after 2 bestseller books they expected something great – and I could feel the earth opening up beneath me and swallowing me in a pool of shame. It took me a few months and a lot of breathing to remember that I was proud of the book and that was anough.
- Finally – for several years I was ashamed that not everyone loved me. I was sure there was something wrong with me. I would bend myself backwards and forget all about boundaries to get just a few tiny scraps from people. A smile or a kind word. When I stopped wanting everyone to love me, I was ashamed of being like that. Oh, the irony of life!
Recognize any of it? And how do you feel? About you? Care to share? Make a comment below or tweet it!