Toxic Shame

I had a revelation this weekend that both nauseated and invigorated me at the same time.  I found out what lies at the core of all my issues.  I found out the reason that I am at a standstill in my recovery.  I found out what I need to work on before I have even the slightest hope of overcoming this.

I have this nice little thing called Toxic Shame, and I have my childhood abuse to thank for it.

Shame can be a good thing.  It can make you look at a mistake that you have made and not repeat it.  It can make you change your behavior so that you become a better person.  The key word here being:  behavior.

Toxic shame is when you think that your being, the very essence of you, is bad.  You feel unlovable, shameful and defective.  When you are abused as a child, your beliefs about yourself become molded by your abuser(s).  More often than not, your abuser is also the person in charge of your care-giving.  Your abuser shows you through action or flat out tells you that you are worthless, useless, unlovable, undeserving and faulty.  As a child, you accept this as fact about yourself.  After all, children are supposed to listen to adults, right?

I never had a name for what was inherently wrong with me.  Obviously, I know that I have a lot of issues and bad patterns associated with my abuse, but I always thought that if I worked on them one by one, I would eventually heal.  This could never happen.  If you don’t even acknowledge the core issue, it’s a hopeless cause.

It’s just like alcoholism…if you don’t fix the issues that made you want to drink in the first place, you can’t hope to stay sober.

I stumbled upon this when I started researching fear of intimacy.  This doesn’t include just sexual intimacy, but intimacy in general.  Not letting anybody get close to me, and not being able to show affection to anyone.  I was reading some articles, and after a bit, my heart started racing and I felt my breath catch in my throat.  It was like a beacon of light was shining on this piece of paper in front of me.

There it was.  The core of my suffering.  The reason I am stuck.

Fear of intimacy is a direct result of toxic shame.  When you have such a low opinion of your being in general, you tend to close yourself off, so people can’t look at the real you.  You feel like they will judge you because you are so worthless.  If you keep everyone at arms length, you will have some semblance of control over how you are viewed by everyone else.

It’s virtually impossible for someone with a toxic shame complex to separate their behavior from their being.  If they do something shameful it’s because they are a bad person.  A “normal” person would just learn from the mistake and move on.  Someone like this will feel even more ashamed, and most definitely learn from it, but it will add to their shame.

“Of course I did something bad, I’m a bad person.”

So, I guess, before I can hope to recover from anything else, this core issue needs to be resolved.  I don’t want to feel this way anymore.  I want to feel lovable, worthwhile and redeemable.  Logically, I know this is true, but damn if I can make myself believe it.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Ann
    Mar 26, 2013 @ 01:12:54

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but
    I find this topic to be actually something that I think
    I would never understand. It seems too complex and
    extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to
    get the hang of it!


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