Shame is possibly the worst side-effect of trauma.  Guilt, shame’s ignoble cousin, seeps in churning the mess.  Guilt has its place, when you do something unkind, unhealthy, or unhelpful, guilt proves conscience – and shows that you’re probably not a psychopath, although you still might be an asshole.

But guilt that worms its way into my psyche without validity serves no purpose.  Shame lies to me, but I believe its lies.

I’ve read that young children cannot process that their parents or caregivers might be wrong, or harmful, so I took it in as my fault.  I didn’t have friends in my first years of school, and even then, at 5 or 6 years old, I thought my classmates knew that I was defective.  But I was resilient;  I knew how to laugh, and laughter was my guardian.  I didn’t know I was smart because I didn’t grow up in a nurturing environment – I just knew ways to escape without going anywhere, and how to hold in my anger and fear until they finally exploded in tantrums and sometimes blind rage – usually toward my antagonizing next oldest sister.


Shame clung to me – it twisted into my DNA, bored into my neurons, exchanging itself through synapses.

Of course I’d try to get unkind people to love me throughout my life, it’s what I was taught.  Of course I’d find men who would add to my shame, further deepening what I already believed about myself.  I never got what I so desperately wanted and needed, love and approval.  Approval is exoneration, absolution.  If I got validation from others, then I wouldn’t have to be ashamed anymore.

Only it doesn’t work that way.  I have to validate and approve of myself.

I don’t want to live in shame anymore.  I’ve done nothing to warrant such heavy chains, such a terrible prison.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current


Author: Hermionejh

Laughter is my drug.

9 thoughts on “Shameful”

    1. Thank you, Brenda. That means a lot to me, and I know you’ve done a lot of work, and continue to offer? workshops on healing shame and trauma. I am working toward healing, and living a full life. xo

      1. I have done a lot of work on being present to my shame and embracing it. Letting it in as opposed to fighting it and trying to cover it has made a huge difference in my being.

        For some reason, Jerri, I am unable to offer workshops or even write much any more. I knew in June 2015 I needed to let it all go once again. I even laid aside marketing my book, which was not easy to do, but I knew I had to. So, for the moment, instead of reaching out to many I am in a place of spending more one on one time with myself and with others. For me, this is a time of discovery and unveiling as I go deeper into the dark areas of my soul and shed light on them.

        Perhaps, this is for a season and I may be called to return to teaching and writing. Meanwhile, I am sitting at peace in the uncertainty and just letting it all be okay.

        Love and hugs to you. You are such a dear soul, Jerri. ❤

      2. Oh Brenda, thank you for such wonderful words, and kind thoughts. You are a dear soul too, and I am letting go of shame and undeserved guilt, and am making a path to honor my worth! I have several pledges I made to increase structure, social interaction & continue to seek employment in something I can do & stick with. Being my best friend is tough sometimes, and I’m grateful for loving support & hope I offer that too. xo

  1. Thanks for sharing. I too have suffered a long time with shame and moral injury from parents and relationships. I hope you work towards being shame free, because we deserve the best love like everyone else. #mentalbattle

  2. It always amazes me that parents escape with little blame even today. So few times do I ever see someone or hear of parents being rightfully blamed for a ruined childhood and it’s really sick. As if parents as a whole are entirely defensible.
    Every child starts off equal, generally, but terrible parents can ruin everything. But society hates to go there. Why is that? I can’t understand it.

    1. Thank you for your thoughts. I agree, it so weird when it’s said or implied that parents aren’t to blame. And whether blame is accepted or not, healing from trauma still has to happen. Maybe not for everyone, but certainly that’s been my experience.

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