Healing shame

There are many consequences of having lived through sexual violence. But if I had to chose the most important one, for its impact on my life, or its overwhelming presence in my mind all these years, it would be shame.

Our shame seems to know who we are. It is this voice telling us that we are so inappropriate, wrong, guilty, and stupid, whatever we do. Since it is about us and not our behavior, there is no chance at ever escaping it. The best we can do, is hide our true nature to people around us.

This belief is one of the reasons we feel so lonely: even when surrounded by people who love us, we cannot help thinking they would not, if they knew the “real us”.

Shame is an ugly feeling. It’s dark and heavy. By its sheer presence, it can ruin everything good in our life: either preventing something good to happen, or preventing us from enjoying what is good. It’s a contemptuous, hostile way to relate to ourselves.

And it can be never ending. I used to think I would prefer be anyone else than me. And then I would feel ashamed to be so ashamed. Oh boy.

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When you want not to want the one you want

I recently listened to Martha Beck’s podcast, the gathering pod, and it felt like connecting with an old friend.

With Melody Beattie, Martha Beck is one of the authors who unknowingly helped my right at the beginning of everything. I had just decided to do what it took to get better, and what it meant initially what reading a lot of self help and psychology books. (I was right to do that by the way. Reading was not enough, but proved to be immensely helpful.)

With Martha Beck, we have a lot in common. The most important common experience, of course, is to have grown up with an incestuous father. We then both proceeded with the foreseable consequences: depression, anxiety, perfectionnism, PTSD, various physical problems, you know, the usual stuff. We also share the unfortunate situation of a late down syndrome diagnosis for our second child, and a strong bond to South Africa (where I found her book Finding your own North Star, that I still recommend). It’s kind of weird, I know.

Anyway, I can say now that I managed to find my way towards a reasonably fulfilling, pleasurable life. But at the time, I was not sure it was possible. She showed me it was, even though her books were not about recovery. Since then, I’ve kept an eye on her books, podcasts, articles, whatever she comes up with professionally.

Since I am currently investigating love addiction and limerence, I though I would listen to one of her latest podcast episode, “When you want not to want what you want” with the perspective of wanting not to want a person (but failing, of course; where is the fun if you can just chose to let go?).

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