The post below is about shame, and Carolyn does a good job in describing what it is like to live with shame. It also, very much, sounds like a lot of abuse survivors who I meet online and in real life:
It’s this generalised, endemic sense that I’m not wanted in this world, that everyone else is in on the joke and I’ve misheard the punchline. It’s a sense of running to catch up but never quite making it, like a French class after being ill so you don’t understand the vocab. I live life from the edges, peering inwards, but even the glass through which I look is frosted, and the sounds muffled and dim. I live in my own world, alone, rejected, set apart. I don’t know what the rules for joining are. I don’t know where the sign-up form is.
The feeling of shame is one of being ineffably defective. It is not that I have done wrong. It is that I am wrong. And there is nothing I can do about it. It is a searingly powerless place to be. If I was born wrong, if I was born to be wrong, then what is the point to me being alive? How can I expect to belong, when I don’t have the right credentials? How can I ever expect anyone to accept me, when I am intrinsically unacceptable? I deserve to be on the outside. I deserve never to fit in. I deserve only for bad things to happen. And how can I shift those beliefs when they appear so inarguably true?
As children, we were abused, and for many of us the message we took away from that is that there must be something wrong with us. Either we were abused because we are bad, or the abuse has left us “damaged” in this same way. We are ashamed of who we are, and hold this core belief that there is something wrong with us that can never be fixed.
Which just so happens to be complete crap. We were abused because someone chose to abuse us. It had nothing, zero, nada, to do with who we are or what we had done. We are holding on to the shame that doesn’t belong to us, and it is that shame that prevents us from moving forward and fitting in. When you assume that you don’t belong anywhere, you wind up not belonging. It’s self-fulfilling.
And yet, I wonder if you even realize how many people in the world have likewise been abused, who know exactly what you’re going through. The statistics tell us that number is easily in the tens of millions.
That sounds like a pretty big tribe. A decent sized group to belong to, if only we weren’t all ashamed of it.
Read more about how Carolyn and her therapist talk about overcoming shame. I hope you find it helpful.