You are only as sick as your secrets and your secrets keep you sick.
Those of us with Dissociative Identity Disorder, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a history of extensive childhood sexual abuse often feel an immense amount of shame and guilt.
So, what is shame? Shame ‘is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour’. To be guilty is to be ‘culpable of or responsible for a specified wrongdoing’. Why are so many of us ashamed? And why do so many of us feel guilty when we have done absolutely nothing wrong?
Living with shame and guilt on a daily basis takes a serious toll on your mental health. For some of us, we have been living with intense feelings of shame and guilt for years, even decades. To understand why we feel shame and guilt we must take a painful look into our experiences and behaviours.
When you are sexually abused as a child, there are many repercussions that tend to pop up in your everyday adult life. Shame and guilt are two particularly insidious feelings that can become normal when you have experienced abuse.
We have found that we feel shameful for existing, for having a voice, and even ashamed to take up space on public transport. Every little thing that we do or say is immediately picked apart by the toughest judges, ourselves. For example, today we were in an Uber on the way home from visiting a family member in hospital. We didn’t feel like talking, we were tired and feeling sick, but we did not want to be rude. We apologised over and over again for being ‘quiet’ and ‘unfriendly’. We were unable to live up to the ridiculous standards that we set for ourselves because of shame and guilt.
We wonder how to live with these emotions, and we wonder why we experience them in the first place. Years of therapy has taught us that shame and guilt has been used to manipulate us since we were infants. When a person uses these emotions to manipulate you into doing something that they are in fact ashamed of and guilty of, the guilt and shame is then projected onto you.
Self forgiveness and self love are crucial when it comes to overcoming shame and guilt. When we can learn to forgive ourselves for things that were entirely out of our own control, we will no longer feel such intense shame and guilt. We are aware that it is not so easy to practice self forgiveness and self love. The love of oneself and the forgiveness of oneself is a never ending process of self reflection, the desire to do better and to be better, and often a life long process.
So what do we do when we’re ashamed, feeling guilty, and trying to love and forgive ourselves? We persevere. When the going gets tough, we push on. We engage in self care, we give ourselves a break and we strive to be strong in a world that doesn’t fully appreciate the strength it takes to just keep on going.
Shame and guilt are two particular topics that we plan on touching on more than once throughout our blogging journey. We plan on exploring these emotions and others in depth. By doing so, we hope that we can help other human beings who have experienced childhood abuse. So, for today, this is it. We thank you for coming along this journey with us so far. We hope that you will stick around.
Use hashtags #DIDLife and #CSASurvivor on social media if you would like to be a part of the conversation!
Much love to all,