Silence and Shame

A lot has been written about the fall.  Heck, I’ve written a lot about it.  Falling is not easy.  Being broken and defeated and hurt and angry and depressed is not easy.  Telling people about it is really not easy.

And here’s the perfect irony of it all.  I never wanted to be the person who talked about it.  I ALWAYS said, brush it off.  Shit happens to all of us. I’ve rarely talked about what the experiences themselves.  I’ve talked about falling.  I’ve talked about the rug and how much we shove under it.  And the truth is, it doesn’t really matter what was under the rug.

The fact that there’s anything under it at all is the issue.  We experience life through our senses and sometimes we can’t make sense of those, our brains can’t process it so it sometimes changes it, or pushes it down so it’s a non issue.  We sometimes don’t even remember events that are the centre of all of our issues because simply they are too painful.  Unfortunately, the hiding under the rug isn’t the  answer because we end up with triggers, anxiety, depression, PTSD to name a few things and sometimes can’t even understand where or how it happened.

What is under the rug isn’t the issue.  It’s the massive amount of things under the rug that becomes the issue… it’s not the one traumatic thing that happened.  Everyone has had something and some people have had so many BIG things.  And we’ve all had a million seemingly small things.

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The girl who is called fat in grade 2 has added trauma because no one realizes she is being abused at home.  This adds to her lowered self worth and belief that she deserves it.  The boy who is picked last for sports every single time because he’s too nervous?  He has an alcoholic father who beats him.  And he just gets so socially awkward he turns inward and quits doing anything he is interested in because he believes he’s no good anyway… why else would his father drink and beat him?  The overachieving Type A with OCD in high school has a mother who demands perfection all the time.  No one knows she’s hiding an eating disorder to cope with her stress.

These are examples of stories I’ve heard over the years from people.  Everyone has something.  And most of us never talk about it because we’ve been taught by society what’s acceptable to talk about and what’s not.  Talking about these things isn’t the popular thing to do.  And I never ever wanted to be the person who was.  In fact, I started writing because my intuitive life coach tapped into a “gift” I had – she felt I had stopped doing it because someone said something to me.  I wracked my brain for a long time, having buried it so deep I had no idea what she was talking about.  But it was writing.  I remembered.  I got A+’s, I was awarded all kinds of stickers for being advanced for my age my entire life.  I was given a scholarship to University because of my writing.  Apparently, I draw people in.

I went to the career counsellor one day and they told me my options with an English degree was teaching or researching… “there is no money in writing, you can’t make a career out of that”.  So I quit.  I moved to sociology with the intention of doing social work.  I never did social work.

With her encouragement I started writing as a way to get out all of the emotions I had inside.  I never intended to write for anyone else but over time it developed, with her encouragement to start a blog (this one).

Talking about it isn’t the popular thing.  It wasn’t an easy choice.  I never wanted to be “that girl” who shares way too much.  But a big part of my healing led me to the realization that it’s the silence that causes all of our problems.  We keep secrets that leads to more shame, anxiety, depression, rage, bitterness and anger, guilt.  And all we do is perpetuate the shame further.

We’re ashamed of everything.

We’re ashamed of the 1/2 cake we ate.  We’re ashamed we can’t lose the 10lbs.  We’re ashamed we spend so much money on diets.  We’re ashamed we spend so much time on Facebook and not enough with our kids and families.  We’re ashamed we didn’t get our pre baby body back immediately after baby, or ever.  We’re ashamed we don’t have sex 5x a week.  We’re ashamed of failing out of school.  We’re ashamed of everything and society perpetuates the shame through judgement.  We pretend we have happy and perfect families.  We don’t talk about the time mom got hammered and fell down the stairs.  We don’t talk about the family member with mental illness.  We don’t talk about the family members who are in trouble with the law, we don’t talk about the jobs we got fired from… the list is endless.  These are not my stories, they are everyone’s stories.  We all have things we don’t talk about.

We live in fear of judgement.

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And that fear keeps us silent.  And the silence is where the shame lives.  And the shame?  That makes us have another cigarette, eat more cake, closet eat, drink, watch too much TV, spend too much time on TV, have inappropriate conversations with inappropriate people.  Have sex with strangers.  Do drugs.  Eat and eat some more.  We don’t want to feel.

Now that I’ve learned to feel I realize how insane it actually is to not speak of the trauma’s we have endured, the big and the small, those things that keep us paralyzed and unable to move forward in life, but it’s ok to binge drink every weekend?  I remember when I was first navigating my way through a new world – post breakdown.  And I was terrified that people would find out I wasn’t feeling good and I was talking to wacky spiritual healers and stuff.  Now I listen to conversations with a whole new perspective.  What worked for me might not be the right fit for others.  But I cannot believe that numbing it will be beneficial in any way.  Pretending everything was fine was what got into me the mess I was in in the first place!

As I type this there is a 20 year old version of me at a bar somewhere shooting tequila making fun of what we’ve become haha.  But seriously.  I know the avoidance world well.  It was my survival until I hit the ground.  I refused to tell anyone anything about anything.  Work it out myself was my motto.  Push it down, forget about it, move on.  But until we feel it and process it we’re not actually moving on.  We just think we are.

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It’s in the process of feeling it that we get to heal it.  And it’s in talking about it, writing it, sharing it that we get to release it and in the process help others do the same.

It doesn’t mean you have to stand up and air out every single thing that’s happened to you, or all of your family secrets.  Working in a safe environment with a friend or a professional (it doesn’t have to be traditional counselling, there are a lot of modalities out there, professional counselling is only one of them, so if you did it like I did and it wasn’t the right fit, keep looking!) really does help.

So many people have said to me in my fitness business they have something going on and they need to deal with it alone and that’s the irony of the solution – it won’t be found by going through it alone.  We’re not meant to do it alone.  Shame lives in alone and silence.  It means I’m too afraid to share it with anyone because I’m ashamed of my decisions, my actions, or what someone else in my family /friends has done.  Shame lives in silence.

It wasn’t until I started my healing journey that I understood that.  It wasn’t until I started to speak and write that I began to get relief, that I understood those big and small things were not gone but were stored in the darkest recesses of my mind, ruling my life, making decisions from fear, from wanting to fit in, from not wanting people to know.

As the things I was terrified to speak about started to come out I began to feel better. I never wanted to be “that” person.  I fought it for a long time but the continued silence prevented my healing.  When I started to write about it and post them, my healing got deeper.

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I understand your fear to speak about it or even deal with it.  I truly do.  You will be ready when you’re ready.  I just want you to know that you’re not alone with that.  People tell me all the time how much my writing helps them and how brave and courageous I am.  I don’t feel any of those things.  I am just sharing my journey as part of my own healing and if it helps others get their healing (which I suppose {eye roll cause I’m still a little of “that other girl” hehe} is the purpose of all of this) journey started, then I’m happy to be of service.  I don’t feel brave or courageous because I still feel a lot of fear each time I share my writing, each time I speak about my own experiences.

The one thing I do know is that being silent about it only continues the shame cycle.  The only way we can break the cycle is to shed light on it.  As hard and as painful as it might seem, as much as you think it will break you, I want you to know it will only hurt for a time, it will only break you in the ways you need to be broken so that you can grow into who you were meant to be.

When we light up, shame can’t live there.

Tonya

PS –>> click the “follow” button in the bottom right corner to be notified when I post new articles!  I’ll be writing a lot less about the fall and a lot more about the rising!

 

 

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