I was raised in an alcoholic, abusive home and grew up to become an alcoholic who married an abuser. Ironic, although apparently not entirely uncommon if you have grown up in that kind of environment.
When my marriage had its final crash and burn, I moved back in with my mother, my “original abuser”. At that time, she was still drinking alcoholically, which didn’t bode well for my living there. However, surprisingly, she found me a therapist and got me into an inpatient program, which marked the start for my new lease on life.
In 2011 my therapist challenged me to identify and name my most common emotion. I couldn’t.
“Your primary emotion is shame,” she said.
She taught me that shame is its own pandemic; That shame will drive people to seek out “evidence” in life to substantiate their own conviction of being “less than”. For me, this ultimately resulted in a life spent playing small and lurching from crisis to crisis.
I have learned that it is essential to release shame in order to move toward a positive self-concept and a life truly worth living. It is necessary to confront the parts of ourselves that live in the shadows, and bring them out into the light. The most powerful weapon is sharing the things that make us feel the most vulnerable and shameful and laughing at them, and letting others laugh with us as well. Then we know that we are not alone, that we are human, that others are human, and the painful separation of shame dissolves in the sunlight of connection.