Shame vs. Guilt in Trauma

I love Brene Brown and I know many of you do as well. I am not positive if she was actually the first person to say this because I heard it long before she came along but it seems she is getting credit for it. Who am I to argue? This quote means a lot to me and a lot to my recovery. ShameI am sure you just read the quote but did you really allow it to sink in?

Trauma is a secret for many reasons but a big one that keeps so many people quiet is the shame we feel. I recall going in to hospital and telling my nurse what a gross, disgusting, pathetic, useless human being I was. I felt and believed that I was dirty and if anyone knew my secrets, they would find that out about me and feel that way too. I really believed that. Hook, line, and sinker.
Taking on personal responsibility for the things that had happened to me seemed right. I know I am not alone here. Not even close to alone. There is a huge percentage of the “trauma” population that carry personal guilt for things that they do not need to feel guilt over.

For me personally, it looked like this…
I should have told more people.
I should have reached out in another way.
I should have known better.
I should have run away.
I should have screamed.
I was weak.
I thought he/she loved me.
Sometimes I liked it.
I am just imagining these things.
I am gross.
I am not trustworthy.
If it really happened, I’d feel emotional about it.
I am nothing but a piece of cement. Cold and heartless.
I don’t cry therefore I must have wanted it in some way.
The list is endless but if it was negative and I could take it personally? I did.

It took me a long time to really understand that I did not own any of that shame. Even now that I know better, I still have times where I revert to that old thinking and question if it really was ME that was the problem. Honestly? After a rough week last week? I am questioning myself about it today. Don’t worry though. I know better in my head. My brain just needs a bit longer to get through to my heart. Hopefully one day I won’t even need a moment before that happens. I believe I can get there. Eventually.

Did I own the shame that I carried with me? Do you?
Did I cause the abuse? Did you?
Was I old enough or prepared to deal with what happened? Were you?
Am I the dirty, gross, disgusting one? Are you?

If you said yes to any of those? That is shame talking.
It is the voice of the abuser(s) revolving inside your head. Even if they never used those words, they are the ones that planted the seed in your heart saying that everything only happened because you wanted or deserved it in some way.
Shame is that part of you that says to yourself “I am wrong. I am unworthy. I am to blame. I am gross.” Shame is when you think to yourself that you are the one in the wrong. Without your gross self, this would have never happened.
But is that true?

If you and your shame were not in the picture, would that abuse not have happened? Would no other little girl, little boy, man or woman have been abused instead? Was it really YOU personally or was it a victim they wanted?
My abuse began at home and when either of your parents or any siblings are involved, It is hard to not take it personally but once again you need to ask yourself… if another baby boy or baby girl had been born, would they have fared any better? The answer is no.

Guilt is far easier to deal with in my opinion. Once you remove shame, guilt is just the stuff that you actually cause. Today. As an adult. Not something you did when you were knee-high to a grasshopper. Or worse? A teenager. 😉 You have to let that crap go. You were a kid and kids do dumb things.

As an adult? We feel guilty and rightly so when we do harm to someone else. Telling lies, presenting yourself as someone you are not, stealing, cheating, being an arsehole, saying something hurtful… the list is long but if you are trying to be a good person, you will not be doing these things all the time. They will happen once in a while. You need to feel badly, admit that you feel badly, ask for forgiveness, and then allow yourself to move past it. Feeling guilty is a good thing during these times. It shows you and the world that you do not taking harming anyone in any way lightly That you are a good person despite your mess-ups which we all have.

A friend of mine posted this to Facebook while I was writing this and it is so good as an addition to this blog. Thanks Debbie!
Have a good Monday, a great week and try… try very hard to start putting shame where it belongs. Do you know where that is???
It belong on the person who caused the shame in the first place. The abuser. That is where it belongs.

Shame2

8 responses to “Shame vs. Guilt in Trauma

  1. This is so true. I consider it one of the miracles of my therapy that I no longer feel ashamed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Shame vs. Guilt in Trauma | GettingrealwithPTSD

  3. At any age – if you are a victim – the shame belongs to the abuser. Always. Thanks for a great blog!

    Like

  4. Shame is basically my default. It sucks.

    Like

  5. Much love to you, fellow survivor. xxx

    Like

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