Healing Shame and Finding Well-Being

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”

― Brené Brown

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My reaction was similar to many other people I know when I first saw the hash tag ‘MeToo’ on twitter and on Facebook. I thought ‘Oh another hash tag on social media . . . Ho hum.’ But then in less than an hour, my wall was full of #MeToo from female friends on Facebook. Little did I know at that point how much Actress Alyssa Milano’s post would impact me personally. So personally in fact that I decided I had to get public with it on Thrive.

Of course, what we now know is that Tarana Burke, a native of Harlem, New York, was the original creator of the Me Too movement over a decade ago, before hash tags and social media. But it was Milano’s post, on October 16th that impacted me.

When I saw the original post, I felt vaguely uncomfortable, but ignored it. It wasn’t even when I saw my wall flooded with #MeToo that I really understood it’s impact. It was only later, over coffee with a friend, that it hit me, the full magnitude of how this related to me personally.

What #MeToo did, was to open up a huge, previously taboo, conversation with other women. Looking back at myself in my 20s, I was a ‘party girl’ and a bartender. I had a lifestyle that ‘invited’ that kind of behavior. I had convinced myself that I had deserved and been ‘responsible for’ the intimidation and harassment that I experienced.

Early in my own personal recovery process, I took full responsibility for my actions and my past behavior . . . full and total responsibility. And thus the shame lived on. I first read about this topic in John Bradshaw’s  ‘Healing the Shame that Binds You.’ Yes I read the book and yes I talked about the concept. But still, said the little voice in my head, if you hadn’t been that drunk, if you hadn’t put yourself in that situation… I still believed that I was responsible for the treatment on some level because of my own behavior.

What I discovered through conversations with other women is that there are a lot of us who still blame ourselves for what happened to us. “If I hadn’t been that drunk” and “If I had been wearing a bra” and “If I hadn’t been so stoned” then that wouldn’t have happened. And most of us have kept that bottled up inside of us, continuing to blame ourselves for our own ‘reprehensible behavior.’

This campaign has opened up the conversation, opened up the willingness to look at the behavior, not with shame, but with a desire to share the story. We are comparing notes and listening, and we are realizing that we are not alone.

There are so many layers to this problem. Looking at the culture of misogyny and who is in the position of power that enables this to happen. I’m aware of this and of course we still have so far to go. But today, I simply want to express gratitude, gratitude that even after so many years of recovery and therapy, these conversations have helped to heal a part of me that remained buried for over thirty years. I am writing now to say thank you for what was not just another ‘social media craze’ but instead was a catalyst to heal. Healing through deep and nourishing conversations with other women, initiated by a simple comment, ‘Me Too.’

I’ll close with a clip from John Bradshaw

 

 

I’d love to hear how the #MeToo campaign impacted you, or how shame itself has impacted your life.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.
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8 thoughts on “Healing Shame and Finding Well-Being

  1. I carried shame for years after my father groped me at age nine. I pushed him away and said stop, but told no one till I was a young adult. I didn’t realize I was carrying HIS burden of guilt for years, and had great anxiety around and fear of men that got in the way of healthy growth for me. Thank God I have an amazing therapist!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very clearly and compassionately stated. The power that manifests in the courageous telling of our stories is essential to healing. We affirm what happened. We bear witness to our own experiences. And we affirm that however painful or frightening, we have not been undone by these events. And that defeats shame. And while this has appropriate applications for all of us, right now it is important to honor the women who are saying, “ME TOO!” and to let this light shine on them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Patti, for continuing to discuss the #MeToo movement. For years, I battled with myself on how to act, how to dress, how to speak in an effort to either NOT attract attention or how TO attract attention from men. The whole time I was play acting – for neither position was comfortable. Years later I recognize this is shame layered with codependency. Being able to say, “ME TOO,” empowers all of us- men and women because we call the abuse as it is. We start to delve into boundaries, acceptable behavior, and most importantly self worth. May I provide a link to this blog in my post later today?
    Thanks for the insight and truth.
    Linda

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Too little is spoken about the too much shame and guilt we women have carried on all along our lives for several decades. Finally the gender game seems to be getting flawed for the better. High time we all spoke up our hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

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