I'm reading about shame for my upcoming graduate course. There are some connections that are finally making sense to me. I've long wondered what exactly has held me back from stepping into life's fullest and what keeps pulling me back. What keeps causing me to withdraw.
I need to think, pray, and ruminate on this since I don't have a full understanding of if there was one event or if it's just from all of growing up, in general. But I have this deep shame that weighs me down, anchoring me to the past. It's what makes me want to hide, to not come out and experience newness, relationships, life.
I suspect much of this lingering sense of shame comes from growing up as a child of a hoarder, though there may be other factors too.
My readings for class are about the differences between guilt and shame; understanding what shame actually is from these descriptions have opened my eyes up. I finally recognize what is haunting me. I'm going to share several passages from what I've been reading to help process this material. The bold are my own emphases.
Consider this from Christopher Flanders in his boo About Face: "Shame is a global statement about the self. That is, the focus in shame is not so much on the deed of failure, but rather on the resulting inadequacy that the self experiences, often made painfully real by the exposure of the inadequacy or failure" (p. 60)
Or this from Helen Lynd i On Shame and Search for Identity: quot;Since shame involves the whole self, it cannot be easily removed. An action that brings guilt can be separated from the self. We can say, "I did that, but that action does not reflect the real me." Thus, guilt can be mitigated, nullified, expiated. Shame cannot. It is not an isolated act that can the attached from the self...It is pervasive as anxiety is pervasive; its focus is not a separate act but a revelation of the whole self. The thing that has been exposed is what I am" (p. 50).
More from Flanders: "The command associated with guilt would be something like: 'Stop. What you have done is wrong and violates the rule or standard.' In contrast, the command interpreted from the perspective of shame would be, 'Stop. What you have done is wrong. You are no good.' As such, the shame command is more severe because t is more profoundly a statement about the self, ot simply an action abstracted and isolated from the self:" (p. 62).
Flanders again: "Shame involves global attribution where the wrong committed is internalized and appropriated at the most fundamental evaluative level of the self. There may be attention given to the wrong committe but the primary focus is upon the defective nature of the self. nbsp;Shame viewed in this light reflects a more fundamental problem. The self is defective" (p. 62).
Paul Gilbert i Shame: Interpersonal Behavior, Psychopathology, and Cultur explains shame as "an inner experience of the self as unattractive social agent" and an experience of "being in the social world a an undesired self, as self that does not wish to be" (p. 22).
Flanders writes more: "That is, the shame experience is linked closely to negative feelings that derive from being who we do not want to be. Shame is not so much a notion of 'I failed to be beautiful' but rather 'I am ugly.' At its core, the shamed self is a self that is deficient and falls short of some good goal or a standard of excellence" (p. 63).
Flanders continues: "....one who is shamed attempts to hide and disappear. nbsp;From the perspective of shame one does not merely view the thing that one has done that is wrong but rather regards th very self as defective.  In this way, shame points to a much deeper reality. It is not the action of a person that is wrong. Rather it is the person itself that is wrong. Because of this, when the self experiences shame, it recoils, feeling inferior and defective" (p. 63).
As I process what I've read, it's clear to me that the words reflect my own internal feelings I have about my self and my identity. I prefer, basically, to be left alone, to be withdraw. Putting forth effort into relationship is not easy at all. It takes a greater outside force to motivate me to try.
I have a lot to process, to consider, and work through. I hope that someday, I can have this burden of shame gone, that I can have a new sense of self.