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Shame

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  • #389393
    Carson
    Participant

    I have been in recovery this past year. At multiple treatment facilities. I went to the first one after reliving trauma. This, combined with other factors in my personal life became super stressful and I was filled with anger. I had homicidal ideation and the dark side of me had gotten to a point where it was disturbing. I never acted on anything thankfully. But my treatment at the first facility started out on a bad note. I had been journaling throughout the summer and thought that I had a lot to say. I wrote down that I wanted people to hear my story. I had done some digging in my family and found out things that I regret looking into. Not that they were bad per se, but it would have been better to stay out of it and focus on myself. I was suicidal, and didn’t leave my room. This was a red flag for the staff and so I was watched carefully. So I stayed there for 13 days, and at the end I was better than when I came in. I had taken a dive into my psyche and came to realize that I had done some things wrong. So in that regard I was not ashamed. Actually felt good. But a part of me is still ashamed of going in there in the first place. I was planning on going to college and because of the stress I decided that instead of just telling my parents I couldn’t handle it, I checked myself in. I am also ashamed of my racism which came to light in that stay. This is something I am continuing to work on and think that it will change with time. I am also ashamed of rather than saying yes to life before I went in, I chickened out. I was going to pass out because of the intensity of it, but decided to not and manipulate my family.

    I went to another treatment facility shortly after that. It was a crisis center. I was in distress due to some personal issues and was not able to handle it. I am proud of myself for doing that. And it started at a hospital. I was there for two days. When asked if I wanted to go to a facility to get help I said yes. I wanted to get help. When I interviewed with the admissions lady she asked me if I thought that I could be better by going into one. I said yes, and that was a lie. I knew it wouldn’t help out or I was unsure. And I am ashamed of that. In that crisis center I was close to losing my mind. But somehow I made it out. I am ashamed of the pleasure I took in seeing another person in fear. Pretty fucked up.

    After that I went to a third facility. This was supposed to narrow down what my problems were. And it did. I have had some trauma in my life and this along with me being an emerging adult, navigating my family dynamics, and dealing with accepting my sexuality created havoc. The thing is I haven’t gotten better in terms of my trauma and I guess everything else. I know I have gained knowledge, but this is not what I need. I need to be exposing myself to the world. I need to be open and I need to develop relationships. I am ashamed of not getting better and I am really ashamed when it comes to my relationship with my mom. I have told her I have improved, but that is not the case. Told her last week that this journey has been painful and she was understandably upset. I need more time and hopefully I will get that. I want to tell her that I have not gotten much better, but I am afraid that will damage our relationship as well as make me more ashamed.

    One thing I want to say to people that read this, if your dealing with trauma try your best to avoid things that make it worse. This past year I exposed myself to traumatic events when I could have prevented it. I read somewhere that until you face your fears, it will only make the process worse. Easier said than done and if you want to connect or need support my email is carsonb023@gmail.com.

     

    #389423
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Carson:

    First, I want to summarize what you shared a month ago, in your previous thread, together with what you shared in this thread, adding a few quotes: you are a very young gay man, an “emerging adult”. You live in a very conservative state and growing up, your family made anti-gay remarks around the dinner table. You mentioned “bizarre behavior” on the part of your father, and that you used to want to change him, focusing on changing him. You also mentioned feeling “very ashamed” in regard to your relationship with your mother.

    As a child and onward, you hid your sexuality from yourself and from everyone else, best you were able. When you were first attracted to a boy, you repressed your attraction and feelings for him and “soon shut down”. As a result of all this and more, you suffered from “anxiety, poor self-esteem, and shame”, and you had thoughts about hurting the boy you were attracted to.

    This year you came out to your family as a gay man, but that didn’t resolve your anxiety and “this internal battle”. You were angry and had thoughts about hurting your family. You checked yourself into a psychiatric hospital. In the hospital you felt “so angry”, and once again, had thoughts about hurting your family. Your psychiatrists advised you “to get some space” from your parents, but you ignored their advice. You later checked yourself t two more facilities.

    I can see how difficult your life has been so far and I wish it wasn’t. I can see that the ongoing, long-term difficulties in the way your parents related to you (and perhaps to each other) created the shame and anger that you suffer from, and that these difficulties preceded and go beyond the topic of your sexual orientation.

    You wrote: “I need to be open“. You started being open by sharing all that you shared in these two threads. If you want to be even more open, and if you feel safe enough and comfortable enough to do it here, on your thread, you can share more: about your disturbing experiences with your father, about your shame in regard to your mother, about what you meant by having been manipulative, about the traumatic events you referred to in this sentence: “This past year I exposed myself to traumatic events when I could have prevented it”, and whatever else you want to share, and in doing so, shine the light into the darkness.

    anita

    #389502
    Carson
    Participant

    Hey Anita,

    Growing up my dad did his best, but was not emotionally there for me a lot of the time and it hurt. He had told me we were going to space and took me to a local airport. He had someone in their put a note under the door saying that it was too windy. That devastated me and although he is a loving person, he was not able to understand that this was not something that I was not able to process myself.

    Looking back there were things which seemed innocent at the time or normal but it was not. He had me smell his underwear, bath with him, kiss me on the lips in public, and slept naked with me and my mom. When I told him I was done bathing with him I could sense that he was sad that time came to an end. Things like that lead me to question my morals.

    I am learning to forgive him for these actions. To put it simply I don’t think he understood how to parent in a manner that was healthy. I believe he is a good person.

    When it comes to my shame with my mom, I feel ashamed that I haven’t made more progress than I have. I think about my time in treatment and I have come forward in a sense, but I haven’t addressed my trauma or my struggle with my identity or my family dynamic. Looking back I am not sure I was ready to do that. I had so many thoughts going through my mind and things I was working on. But I know she is upset.

    I have exposed myself to trauma out of pure stubbornness and self-hatred. I was first conscious of this when I was in the second facility. I was trying to deal with issues and also just wanted to enjoy life. For example, laughing at a tv show with other people around me was traumatizing. Going to the third facility, I noticed my legs starting to move even more and just thought well it is what it is. I was more focused on dealing with how people saw me as opposed to how I truly was as an individual.

    Now I am in the grief stage, which feels relieving. I have thought about relationships with other people and the things I can do with my life. I feel pain for the simplest things. I think I can eventually overcome it, but it is painful to lose out on things that could have been avoided.

    #389505
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Carson:

    It is evening where I live, and I want to answer you when I feel more awake and focused, which would be tomorrow morning. I didn’t understand the part about your shame in regard to your mother, what you explained is too general. If you can, and if you want to- can you be more specific? Also, I didn’t understand what traumatized you about “Laughing at a tv show with other people” around you. Would you like to explain it to me?

    I will be back to your thread whether you answer the above, or not, in about 13 hours from now.

    anita

    #389511
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Carson:

    I am so sorry for all the emotional pain you experienced so far in life, and I very much hope that your pain lessens and lessens… until living feels so much better for you: imagine that someday, all that shame will be gone! Imagine feeling good inside!

    What you experienced in regard to your parents has been devastating for you, and it would devastate any child in the same situation. No child can go through what you went through and be okay. But you can become okay, over time.

    For a person to feel okay, to no longer be tormented by shame, guilt, anger, confusion and despair, a person has to see reality clearly, just as it is. There are realities that are too painful, too scary to see- so we 0nly partly see them through thick fog. Mental health (becoming okay) is about clearing that thick fog, little by little, and then, clearly seeing what’s there.

    Here is a clear spot in the thick fog in regard to your father, combining what you shared about him in your two threads: “I think he is in denial of his sexuality… He had me smell his underwear, bath with him, kiss me on the lips in public, and slept naked with me”.

    I am so sorry, Carson. You see, don’t you, that your father sexually abused you, that he chose to do these things because it excited him sexually.

    When I told him I was done bathing with him I could sense that he was sad that time came to an end. Things like that lead me to question my morals“-questioning your morals is the fog in your eyes. It is his morals that are bad, not yours!

    *** When you were old enough to make thoughtful choices and to assert yourself with your father, you put a stop to the bathing: this means that your morals are not questionable. Your morals are good!

    Before you were old enough to be able to assert yourself with him, it was not possible for you to stop the bathing, to stop the sleeping together, etc.: no young child can do that because for a young child, the father is a superior, powerful being… all-knowing, all-good, all-powerful. A young child will not dare disobey such a being.

    I don’t think he understood how to parent in a manner that was healthy. I believe he is a good person“- clearing the fog: (1) He was not a good person to you, (2) He sexually abused you not because he didn’t know how to parent, but because it excited him.

    Your mother didn’t stop the sexual abuse. She allowed it to happen, and then, it seems like she … was surprised or disappointed that it affected you negatively.

    I am really ashamed when it comes to my relationship with my mom…  I want to tell her that I have not gotten much better, but I am afraid that will damage our relationship… When it comes to my shame with my mom, I feel ashamed that I haven’t made more progress than I have“- the fog makes you think that it is your fault that you were damaged by the sexual abuse. Clearing the fog: (1) The sexual abuse is not your fault, (2) Having been damaged by the sexual abuse is not your fault. Any child in your situation would have been damaged, (3) The shame belongs not with you, but with these two people: your father and your mother.

    When I interviewed with the admissions lady, she asked me if I thought that I could be better by going into one. I said yes, and that was a lie. I knew it wouldn’t help out or I was unsure. And I am ashamed of that“- clearing the fog: at the time you were in crisis, in acute distress. You were unsure about a lot of things, and so: you are not guilty for saying Yes any more than if you said No, or Maybe.

    There is more of what you shared that I could respond to, but enough for now. If and whenever you want to keep our conversation going, please post again. I feel hope that over time, little by little, you will become more and more okay, that your vision will be free of that fog, fog filled with shame and guilt that do not belong with you!

    anita

    #389515
    SSS
    Participant

    I would like add two cents about shame….

    Much later in life I realized that I’d always had an unusual (intense and long-living, and misguided) sense of shame. I also wondered how others could carry on WITHOUT apparent shame after questionable or flat-out wrong/inappropriate behaviors. Especially when someone close to me didn’t exhibit shame, I carried their shame no differently than if I’d been “quilty” of the act/behavior. (E.g.: I once wouldn’t go in my front yard for a very long time b/c of the shame I carried for another person in my family who behaved inappropriately with a neighbor.) I absorbed (other’s) shame like a sponge.

    It’s the nature of those suffering with addictions (sexual, substance, etc.) to slide the guilt, shame, anger, etc. onto others.

    Anita brings up a very solid point about your father’s actions, and you need to realize them for what they were. For any multitude of reasons, the narrative got changed. You want to believe in the goodness of your parents, but by admitting they did what they did was unreasonable and hurtful doesn’t mean you still can’t love them and find some good in them. It’s not a mutually exclusive deal.

    I, too, grew up with physical and sexual abuse from various people. I reached a point where I forgave one person in particular some years down the line when I realized that they were who they were and they likely did the best they could given their personality/issues, but finding that forgiveness meant I had to face the truth about them—and forgiving someone doesn’t dictate that they still aren’t responsible for their behavior, or that what they did is acceptable.

    Forgiveness can come just by the passing of time or with very hard work over a long stretch of time. And forgiveness heals you. It. just. does.

    All this said, you have a long, hard road ahead. It probably seems impossible right now that you’ll come to terms with all the many things with which you find yourself struggling. But you’ve taken some good steps. That’s how we all begin. Steps. And it took all these years for you to be where you now find yourself, so you know turning it around won’t happen overnight or easily–and might even get worse before it gets better–and that’s okay b/c you’ve started down the path of discovery and healing. On your own, you began this. That takes courage. Because you want it. You’ll get there. Give yourself a break and stop blaming yourself. Just work on taking one step at a time. It’s too daunting otherwise, yes?

    Hugs.

     

     

    #389578
    Carson
    Participant

    SSS and Anita, thank you for responding.

    I am at a point in my recovery where I feel like giving up. I know once the fog clears there will be a great amount of fear and things that I won’t be able to do because of trauma. I am unsure if I can even have a trusting relationship. I think there are a few out there, but it all is just so much.

    I fear that I will be living a life that is more reclusive and limited. I guess this is not necessarily bad. I know what my dad has done is wrong and my mom as well, but there is just so many things I have to work through that I am losing hope. I have a few months at this center and then I am back at home. I hope things will turn around, and will be working at it.

    #389579
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Carson:

    You are welcome. “I have a few months at this center and then I am back home“- is there a way for you to not go home in a few months? It reads like living with your parents again, is not good for you.

    (I will be back to the computer in about 10 hours from now).

    anita

    #389596
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Carson:

    I fear that I will be living a life that is more reclusive and limited“- for a while, I am sure that your life will be limited. It will take time, a lot of time and patience to slowly, very slowly, expand your life beyond the current limitations. But first, it will take you being safe: no longer being exposed to people who may continue to hurt you and harm you. Please talk with your counselors about your need for safety: not only during your stay at the center, but after you leave the center.

    Please post again anytime you feel like it.

    anita

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