A Very Familiar Feeling – Shame


In this moment, I feel sick to my stomach with shame.  I feel as though I did something dreadfully wrong.    It isn’t logical.  It’s nothing I did.  It’s a feeling of…

This shame has nothing to do with what I do.  It has to do with who I am.

It often happens when I’ve been around others.  I criticize what I said, how I behaved.  Was I appropriate?  What did I miss?  I decide I never want to see those people again.  But I do and they never know my turmoil.  In fact, my friends know I’m a “loner” but see me as pretty good in social situations.  That’s an observation, not at all how I feel inside.   I avoid social situations but once I’m there, I have a great time and question my hesitation to attend.  Then the self-analysis of my behavior begins….

I feel I’ve failed again.  But what did I fail?  I didn’t do anything specific that I can put my finger on.

Why this sense of shame?  It’s about me, deep inside me, a feeling of not being acceptable, deserving to be, of not being enough.  For whom?  For what?

It’s a feeling of being “tricked”.  I feel like I “should have known”.  But what should I have known?  It’s deep pain and I feel it viscerally.

I know a lot of phrases about shame, enough to understand that it’s useless and unwanted in my life.  I know that from my physical reaction.  What does it accomplish?  I don’t know.  I want it to be gone!!  So why does it still arise in me at times?  I know that I’ve acknowledged and tried to deal with this feeling in the past but I can’t remember when it was a real “project” of mine.  It’s such a familiar feeling that I barely notice it anymore.  Most of the time at least.

I do have expectations of myself and sometimes I don’t live up to my expectations.  But I try.  And then try again or move on.  But this shame is deeper than that.

When I was younger, I felt this feeling often.  I didn’t have a name for it but it was a pain in the pit of my stomach.  It was exaggerated in certain circumstances.   I think it had to do with not being “enough”, not “fitting in”, not “getting it” in general.  I felt a step out of beat and usually struggling to figure out the beat and catch up.  I eventually figured it out and by then was not appropriate.

I’m thinking that if I still have this experience at 71, as much as I’ve worked on myself, maybe I should make friends with it, consciously accept it as part of me, know it will pass, love myself until I feel better.  Continue to tell myself that I’m enough.. and sometimes more.  That I deserve to “be” simply because I’m here.

I think I’ll name it  My Child and make it feel welcome, accepted and such an important part of what has helped me grow.

Yes, that’s what I’ll do.   My child is kind.  My child is smart.  My child is important. (Thanks to The Help)

And shes  a kind, smart and important grownup now.

I’m so very grateful!.

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2 comments on “A Very Familiar Feeling – Shame

  1. dmfamily says:

    This is a perfect description of what I’ve experienced most of my life as well, but have only recently started to question it (why does it endure even when socializing with long term close friends?) and wonder how I might make it go away. I like your idea of embracing it as part of who I am and will give that a try! Thanks for sharing and giving me food for thought.

    • I hope it helps you too. Writing about it, putting words to the feelings, somehow took the power away from the shame and I’ve been relatively free of it. Thank God! I immediately discovered that right under the surface of my feeling of shame, there are other feelings that are easier to identify – not so easy to accept them as part of who I want to be, however. I’m going to write a bit about them soon.

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