Written by Kendra Bennett, LPC
So, after my last blog post, I have been feeling extremely vulnerable.
I find after feeling all of the raw emotions from a trigger, I become extremely irritable, angry, judgmental, and quick to lash out at others. Sometimes I don’t even realize it until something is at the tip of my tongue and my shame is about to blow up all over someone else.
Let me take a minute to explain shame the “Brene Brown way.”
Shame is that little voice inside my head telling me I am not good enough, that I am damaged and broken. Telling me I am not worthy of love and belonging, telling me that I need to do whatever it takes to make sure people do not see the real me. How do we do that? We use armor like we are going into battle! The problem is, this is a battle we are only fighting with ourselves and this armor doesn’t keep us safe. It keeps us disconnected from others. We have spent our lives thinking we are damaged, less than, broken, and irreparable. We unconsciously believe that if people were to get close enough to see our imperfections they would take off running in the other direction.
Linda Hartling calls these “Strategies for Disconnection.” Brene Brown calls them our “Shame Shields.” When we feel shame, we respond in one or more of these ways:
Moving Away – Withdrawing, hiding, silencing ourselves, and keeping secrets
Think back to your trauma: I did all of the above in an attempt to avoid connecting with others out of fear that they will see “the broken me” believing I had a HUGE sign on my forehead telling everyone what was happening.)
Moving Toward – Seeking to please people
You know when you are constantly dancing and performing for everyone around you? Trying to be everything for everyone and completely neglecting yourself? This allows me to NOT pay attention to myself. The more people like me the more value I must have.
Moving Against – Trying to gain power over others, being aggressive, using shame to fight shame
I hate to admit this but I do this. We all do this. If I am hurting (real or perceived hurt), I go here. Usually it takes a bit to recognize that I am trying to bring someone into my pain.
So now what?
You have to speak your story. You have to find someone you trust, someone you can talk to and tell your story to. Someone who will sit in the story and hold it with you instead of create more shame. Someone who can say, “Tell me more”.
I would love nothing more than to tell you that once you do this everything will go away. But I am here, writing this post because I still have to be mindful of where I am emotionally. In a way, there is an end, there is an end to living in the past where you start looking towards the future. The more we speak our stories the more power and control we have over them. I know you are saying, “Yeah right!” Our stories can spin like a hamster wheel in our brains as that hamster wheel keeps getting thicker and thicker until it takes up all the space in our heads. The more we tell our story in trusted spaces, the more we connect with others, the more we connect with others, the less shame we feel and the more we feel we belong. The less shame we feel, the stronger we are. I can keep going, but what I really want to say is:
YOU have been so strong ALONE…
Is it not time to let someone help you?
From my own experience, there will be times when I need to call a friend (or my husband) and say “I think I am about to lose it.” I have found the more I lean on these people, the less I need to lean. There will be days that I am not strong enough to continue to hold my story by myself. Those days still bring me down but not for long.
You can do this. You are precious. You are loved and you belong!