It's not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.
We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.
When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.
Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.
One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you're living with this illness and functioning at all, it's something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.
In my view, suicide is not really a wish for life to end.' What is it then?' It is the only way a powerless person can find to make everybody else look away from his shame. The wish is not to die, but to hide.
Abuse manipulates and twists a child’s natural sense of trust and love. Her innocent feelings are belittled or mocked and she learns to ignore her feelings. She can’t afford to feel the full range of feelings in her body while she’s being abused—pain, outrage, hate, vengeance, confusion, arousal. So she short-circuits them and goes numb. For many children, any expression of feelings, even a single tear, is cause for more severe abuse. Again, the only recourse is to shut down. Feelings go underground.
Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: "Who has earned the right to hear my story?" If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.
So often survivors have had their experiences denied, trivialized, or distorted. Writing is an important avenue for healing because it gives you the opportunity to define your own reality. You can say: This did happen to me. It was that bad. It was the fault & responsibility of the adult. I was—and am—innocent. The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis
I felt ashamed." "But of what? Psyche, they hadn't stripped you naked or anything?" "No, no, Maia. Ashamed of looking like a mortal -- of being a mortal." "But how could you help that?" "Don't you think the things people are most ashamed of are things they can't help?
We do not have to be ashamed of what we are. As sentient beings we have wonderful backgrounds. These backgrounds may not be particularly enlightened or peaceful or intelligent. Nevertheless, we have soil good enough to cultivate; we can plant anything in it.
I do not say that children at war do not die like men, if they have to die. To their everlasting honor and our everlasting shame, they do die like men, thus making possible the manly jubilation of patriotic holidays. But they are murdered children all the same.
Why are you drinking? demanded the little prince. "So that I may forget," replied the tippler. "Forget what?" inquired the little prince, who was already sorry for him. "Forget that I am ashamed," the tippler confessed, hanging his head. "Ashamed of what?" insisted the little prince, who wanted to help him. "Ashamed of drinking!
[She] had heard it said that there was only one emotion which, in recollection, was capable of resurrecting the full immediacy and power of the original—one emotion that time could never fade, and that would drag you back any number of years into the pure, undiluted feeling, as if you were living it anew. It wasn’t love… and it wasn’t hate, or anger, or happiness, or even grief. Memories of those were but echoes of the true feeling. It was shame. Shame never faded.
It is better to stay single and wait for the one that makes sense then to marry someone that makes absolutely no sense. The moment you settle is when the one person that makes all the sense in the world shows up and Satan sits back and enjoys your spiritual meltdown.
Oh! that look of love!" continued he, between his teeth, as he bolted himself into his own private room. "And that cursed lie; which showed some terrible shame in the background, to be kept from the light in which I thought she lived perpetually! Oh, Margaret, Margaret! Mother, how you have tortured me! Oh! Margaret, could you not have loved me? I am but uncouth and hard, but I would never have led you into any falsehood for me.
Look: the trees exist; the houses we dwell in stand there stalwartly. Only we pass by it all, like a rush of air. And everything conspires to keep quiet about us, half out of shame perhaps, half out of some secret hope.
It is not lies or a lack of loyalty that ends a relationship. It is the agonizing truth that one person feels in their heart on a daily basis. It is realizing that you are coping and not living. It is the false belief that there is a verse, quote, phrase or talk that will magically make you feel content, complete or not care. However, it doesn’t last longer than a few days, before your mind and heart goes back to what it wants. It is the moment you realize that you left without ever leaving. It is the moment you realize that fear, shame or guilt is the only thing standing in the way of the life God meant for you to live.
The biggest potential for helping us overcome shame is this: We are those people. The truth is…we are the others. Most of us are one paycheck, one divorce, one drug-addicted kid, one mental health illness, one sexual assault, one drinking binge, one night of unprotected sex, or one affair away from being those people–the ones we don’t trust, the ones we pity, the ones we don’t let our kids play with, the ones bad things happen to, the ones we don’t want living next door.
It is not the actions of others which trouble us (for those actions are controlled by their governing part), but rather it is our own judgments. Therefore remove those judgments and resolve to let go of your anger, and it will already be gone. How do you let go? By realizing that such actions are not shameful to you.
There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general: (1) Recklessness, which leads to destruction; (2) cowardice, which leads to capture; (3) a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults; (4) a delicacy of honor which is sensitive to shame; (5) over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.
So I let my shame own me, kill me, wilt me away into a thousand dead flakes, knowing if I kept it all in, she would never have to learn the dirtiness that was forever inside me--the bad, the ugly, the twisted. She could go on living her life happy, just like she deserved.