This morning I was listening to a program about the nature of shame overall, and shame versus guilt. The experts were all people who had written books about these subjects, but with different contexts. One was about using shame to shape corporate responsibility, one discussed Judas and the nature of shame and guilt in relation to Jesus’s betrayal, and one referenced an author I wasn’t familiar with.
This got me thinking about the role shame and guilt play in my own life, and the way I see them working on me even today. The nature of regret and betrayal were also elements of discussion.
Last year, my life changed dramatically. I did things that today, thinking about it, make me feel ashamed. Guilt is gone, because there’s no longer anything to be guilty about (I see guilt as a present tense thing, a current emotional state related to a behavior, rather than a long term one. I see shame as the long term effect, because that’s when other people’s perceptions come into play and influence my feelings about myself. The differences are subtle, but there.)
How does one move beyond shame and develop a sense of forgiveness? How does one let go of the past, of the shame, and determine to allow the experience to make them a better person? Learn from the mistakes of the past, if you’ll excuse the cliche.
As I take the time to try and understand my behaviors and where they come from, I’m desperately trying to be a better person. While I can’t undo the shame of the past, or undo the damage caused by my life-long demons (which have built shame-towers that reach higher than the clouds and deeper than the earth’s core), I can use the experience to grow, to not make the same mistakes again, and to be a better person. One I’m not ashamed of, one who doesn’t live with fear, with regrets, with crippling self-doubt.
It’s going to be a long road. My therapist ‘broke-up’ with me because I need far more intensive, and longer-term, help than she can give me. This kind of dismantling and rebuilding is going to be soul crushing, at times. But I’m tired of beating myself up. I want to move forward without the weight of my past pushing down on my shoulders like an angry leopard waiting to pounce. Living in the present is helping–when these things start to weigh me down I try and concentrate on the here and now rather than the days I can’t change. I try and focus, and find myself laughing and smiling beyond the self-doubt and self-recriminations.
So, along those lines: I have decided to move to a different blog site. This will still be here in some form, but I will no longer be adding words to it. If you’d like to keep following me, and I really hope you do, I’ll be posting the link to the new blog in the next few days (once I figure out how to do it.)
I hope you are all well and being gentle with yourselves.