What is shame?
Shame is a feeling that tells us we have done something wrong, right?
Well for those who have survived child hood trauma we feel shame all the time even when we do something right.
When explaining what shame is, I like to break it down into two main feelings that we all deal with.
That is guilt and shame.
Guilt is ” I did something bad.”
Shame is, ” I am bad.”
When a child experiences, or witnesses a traumatic event and does not have a supportive adult to talk about what they are feeling after the event, the normal outcome for a child is to internalize the event.
A five-year old and her mother witness a car accident. The mother is then asked what she saw by her friend. She might say something like ” wow it was really terrible.” The child however, will not be able to make sense of the event in the same way her mother did. This little girl will only know that she felt bad. When asked what she is feeling about the event the child will often point to her chest indicating that she feels bad. This internal feeling becomes ” I am bad.”
Now imagine a child who is sexually abused.
This equals ” I am bad,” every time the child is violated until as an adult the reinforced belief is ” I am bad.”
The same applies to neglect, bullying, physical abuse, and verbal abuse.
Shame is tenacious and stubborn.
It holds on like a crab to its barnacle. It claws on for dear life!
Shame in its difficult way kept you safe.
After all its easier for a child to believe that they are bad then the perpetrator or parent that is abusing them.
It was a necessary defense to keep you alive. Help you to keep going.
With the right therapist you can let it go. One step at a time.
After all you are beautiful
…...born here for a reason.
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