March 1, 2020 at 6:44 am #340772
I am 23 years old, a student. Since as far as I can remember I’ve had so much shame within me, especially when it comes to intimacy. I have never had a boyfriend, not even a kiss. I don’t feel like I am worthy of love and anytime someone showed an interest in me I felt extremely ashamed. I feel extremely uncomfortable if guys talk to me. In my mind, I often imagine having a boyfriend, having someone that I love and loves me back, but whenever someone shos they like me I shut down and feel like I am commiting a sin. It’s destroying me and I don’t want to feel like that anymore. In my family, we are not used to showing emotions. We don’t hug or kiss or tell each other we love each other. Even though I look like a “cold” person, I am very sensitive and emotional, but I rarely show it around my family. I feel so ashamed and guilty when I hug my friends (female friends) but not my family members. It took me 19 years to give them a hug when I started university and moved to a city 2 hours away. I visit home every weekend. I often feel guilty for having a life outside my family. I love my family very, very much and I am almost too attached to them. I can never lie to my family and I was never a “normal” teenager. I never got in trouble, I never did anything wrong because the shame existed in my before I would even do anything. I am terrified of ever having sex with anyone because I already feel ashamed and I havent even done it yet. We are not an extremely religious family, we rarely talk about religion and God. I don’t know how to fix myself.. A few days ago I decided to go out of my comfort zone and talk to a guy while commuting. He started talking to me and while I felt extremely uncomfortable I engaged in a conversation. He asked for my number and I gave it to him. I still feel so stupid for doing that because I have never done anything like that before. After we exchanged numbers he changed immediately and started talking dirty and exposing himself to me. I did not see that coming and told him to stop and he did and went away. Why does smething like that happen the first time I let my guard down? I am not the kind of girl who desperately wants a boyfriend, I just thought I might meet new people that way and now it looks like I am desperate. I feel ashamed again. I feel ashamed all the time and half the time I don’t even know why.. I sorry this post is all over the place, but that is kind of the state of my mind right now as well. Have you ever had any similar feelings? How did you get rid of shame?
Thank you.March 1, 2020 at 9:00 am #340792
“Even though I look like a ‘cold’ person, I am very sensitive and emotional”- a paradox perhaps, but understandable:
“We don’t hug or kiss or tell each other we love each other”- this is the situation in your family, it came about because your parents don’t hug or kiss each other or their children, and your parents don’t say I-love-you to each other or to their children.
To be loyal to your family, you feel that it is wrong for you, a betrayal of your family to show affection (hug, kiss, say I-love-you) to anyone else. To be loyal to your family, you appear cold. And you feel that you are being wrong/ doing something that is wrong aka shame and guilt, when you consider showing affection to someone outside your family (“I feel so ashamed and guilty when I hug my friends).
Do you think that your shame and guilt have to do with your strong loyalty to your unaffectionate family?
anitaMarch 1, 2020 at 12:15 pm #340812
Thank you for responding.
“Do you think that your shame and guilt have to do with your strong loyalty to your unaffectionate family?”
Perhaps. Even though we don’t show emotions I know they love me and I love them and we show it in other ways; however I don’t understand why I have such a hard time thinking I could ever be held by a boy or kissed or more. In some way I do feel like having a boyfriend would mean that I am independent from my family and not a child anymore. I feel bad even thnking that I need anyone outside my family to love. It feels like a betrayal, but I don’t know why because we never talk about romance in my family and they never said I cannot have a boyfriend. I also have this shame in being a female, almost as if having sex or being intimate is something very dirty and bad. I feel disgusting if anyone ever flirts with me..March 1, 2020 at 6:42 pm #340836
I am looking forward to reply to you when I am back to the computer, in about 12 hours from now.
anitaMarch 2, 2020 at 6:21 am #340906
You expressed two kinds of shame (and guilt):
1. Shame that has nothing to do with sex, the non-sexual shame: “I feel so ashamed and guilty when I hug my friends (female friends) but not my family members… I often feel guilty for having a life outside my family…I feel bad thinking that I need anyone outside my family to love. it feels like a betrayal”.
2. Shame about sex, the sexual shame: “I also have his shame in being a female, almost as if having sex or bring intimate is something very dirty and bad”.
Regarding the no-sexual shame, “They never said I cannot have a boyfriend”, but they must have said other things that sent you the message that it is shameful and bad to take your love (time, attention, care, money, generosity) outside your family.
– a possibility: they may have talked about a friends’ daughter who instead of living with her parents and helping them, she got a boyfriend and rented an apartment with the boyfriend, spending her money on him/ her relationship with him instead of on her parents. And as they talk about that woman, they expressed how selfish, ungrateful she is, how she should be ashamed of herself, and how if that happened to them, they will disown a daughter like that.
-another possibility: as a child you had a friend come over and play with you in your home. You really liked that friend, so you gave her one of your toys as a gift. One of your parents got very angry at you, telling you that you shouldn’t have given that toy to your friend, that that your parents work hard for the food and clothes and toys they buy for you, and suggest that you sort of stole from them by giving that toy to your friend, betrayed them by having done so.
Regarding the sexual shame, it is a very common that girls/ women are shamed regarding sex while men are not. This message of shame is delivered directly or indirectly, as when telling a story about a friends’ daughter who had sex and how ashamed her parents are because of that, how embarrassing it is, etc.
The story of the guy you met commuting is unfortunate. I wish it didn’t happen to you, and it doesn’t help with your pre-existing sexual shame.
anitaMarch 2, 2020 at 11:49 am #340950
Much of the shame we carry is undeserved. I like what L.B. Smeeds wrote about it in his book ‘Shame and Grace’
“Shame is heavy; grace is light. Shame and grace are the two counterforces in the human spirit: shame depresses; grace lifts. Shame is like gravity, a psychic force that pulls us down. Grace is like levitation, a spiritual force that defies gravity. If our spiritual experience does not lighten our life, we are not experiencing grace. . . .
“The lightness of grace does not lift all the sandbags that drag the spirit down. It lightens life by removing one very dead weight in particular—the weight of anxiety about being an unacceptable person. It extracts the internal threat of healthy shame. It gives us courage to track down the sources of unhealthy shame, see it for the undeserved pain it is, and take steps to purge our lives of it completely. It sets loose the lightest feeling of life; being accepted; totally, unreservedly accepted. . . .
“I close with a personal statement that sums up most of what I have said about grace and the healing of shame. It is my way of staking out a claim for myself on grace. . . .
“I believe that the only self I need to measure up to is the self my Maker meant me to be.
“I believe that I am accepted along with my shadows and the mix of good and bad I breed in them.
“I believe that I am worthy to be accepted.
“I believe that grace has set me free to accept myself totally, and without conditions, though I do not approve of everything I accept.
“I believe that nothing I deserve to be ashamed of will ever make me unacceptable to G_d.
“I believe that I can forgive anyone who has ever infected me with shame I do not deserve.
“I believe that I may forgive myself for anything that I have ever done to shame myself or another person.
“I am gratefully proud of being who I am and what I shall be.
“I believe that the grace heals the shame I do not deserve and heals the shame I do.
“I believe that grace is the best thing in the world.”March 2, 2020 at 12:57 pm #340958
Dear Peter and Anita,
Thank you both for your answers. You have given me a lot to think about and process. I will use Smeed’s quotes as affirmations.
The best to both of you.March 2, 2020 at 1:25 pm #340962
You are welcome, Ful_of_paradoxes, and thank you for your good wishes.