Home page of BPDFamily.com, online relationship supportMember registration here
November 29, 2020, 02:23:17 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Board Admins: Harri, Once Removed
Senior Ambassadors: Cat Familiar, I Am Redeemed, Mutt, Turkish
  Help!   Groups   Please Donate Login to Post New?--Click here to register  
bing
Pages: [1] 2 3  All   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: 4.15 | Toxic Shame - What Is It and What Can We Do About It?  (Read 29463 times)
blackandwhite
Retired Staff
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
Relationship status: married
Posts: 3115



« on: April 09, 2010, 02:09:52 PM »

US: Toxic shame--what is it and what can we do about it?

Do you have any of these "fleas" or after effects of spending time in a BPD environment?



    • Perfectionism?


    • Addictions to substances, food, and other compulsive behaviors?


    • People pleasing?


    [/list]

    You may benefit from learning more about toxic shame.

    Excerpt
    Toxic shame is an all pervasive sense that I am flawed.  It is a belief  that we are worthless and defective as a human being.  It is more than just a fleeting feeling of unworthiness, it is an internal sense of falling short.  If we experience toxic shame, it is difficult to recognize.  As [John] Bradshaw [author of Healing the Shame That Binds You]  says, "A shame based person will guard against exposing his inner self to others, but more significantly, he will guard against exposing himself to himself."

    --From hope4survivors.com (www.hope4survivors.com/Shame.html)

    Shame is a normal and necessary human emotion. It alerts us to our limits as people, letting us know we are not all-powerful and must respect the needs of others as well as our own. But shame can also become "toxic"--a pervasive feeling not about anything we do, but about who we are. John Bradshaw, author of Healing the Shame That Binds You and other works, and many others have suggested that toxic shame forms early in our lives. Children develop shame as toddlers. If all goes well, this shame is healthy. If something goes wrong, such as abuse or another invalidating environment, toxic shame can result, with implications that can last a lifetime. Many raised in a BPD environment, as well as others, carry toxic shame.

    In this workshop, we will explore:



      • The concept of toxic shame


      • How to recognize it in our lives


      • Stories of our own toxic shame and journeys to grow beyond it


      • Strategies for what to do about it


      [/list]

      As a start, what are your thoughts and questions about toxic shame?

      Do you see it operating in your life? If so, how?
      « Last Edit: March 11, 2019, 07:23:44 PM by Harri » Logged

      What they call you is one thing.
      What you answer to is something else. ~ Lucille Clifton


      simplesimon
      ****
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Posts: 375



      « Reply #1 on: April 09, 2010, 02:38:05 PM »

      I feel fear/shame a lot.  I find myself having unrealistic expectations of others, then shame that I feel I can't "measure up".

      Dealt with substance abuse for many years.  The feelings of being "unworthy" and the sadness I feel about not being totally complete about it.

      I wonder how much is shame about things I did as my BPDm's puppet or shame because I continue these behaviours.
      Logged
      methinkso
      ********
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Posts: 6061


      « Reply #2 on: April 09, 2010, 02:44:29 PM »

      It just frustrates me to no end that I have not been able to find John Bradshaw's video "The Shame That Binds Us". I was fortunate enough to see his series on pbs at least 20 yrs ago and it really was new territoty for me and extremely validating.

      My family could not have been anything but shame based.

      I think being shame based is an extremely painful dehumanizing existance. I know I was shame based when I was getting emotionally worse in my late 20's. Lack of communication and secrecy feed and fuel this. Through therapy I am hardly shame based now.

      I think for children that become shame based, it all comes from the abuse/neglect and internalizing (in this case, the shame my mother should have felt but projected). The internalizing the shame is probably the most damaging. Having a BPD mother, I am sure mine started in the crib. An infant can internalize rejection.

      Therapy can help this a lot if one gets bonded with the T; least did in my case. It was really really thrilling to be able to shed so much old baggage and learn that shame is only for those that deserve it. Most of us here did not have a mother in those early learning stages that reflected acceptance/love through touch, vocalization and facial expressions. We didn't get off to a good start.

      B&W, thanks for starting this. It will be a great workshop.
      Logged
      methinkso
      ********
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Posts: 6061


      « Reply #3 on: April 09, 2010, 02:55:34 PM »

      These are just my opinions. Of course it can start while being a toddler. I always found that visuals helped me grasp psychology much better. So I want to give a visual for members who might be looking inwardly.

      We've all seen it. A mother is in a store with a toddler. The toddler is going to do what toddlers do, so, say the toddler touches something out of curiosity. Mother (fill in father, caretaker) smacks the childs hand and LOUDLY admonishes the child. LOUDLY shames the child. The child feels shock and lack of understanding, looks about and sees all the other customers staring with anything from shock, empathy and apathy. The child is well on it's way to building an internal shame base. This can go on to the point that the child starts 'seeing' those looks on others faces, thereby projecting his experiences.

      It angers me actually, to describe this. But we all know it's far far far from uncommon. Imagine what that child receives in treatment in private.
      Logged
      havana
      ********
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Male
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Relationship status: Widower
      Posts: 5308



      « Reply #4 on: April 09, 2010, 02:56:13 PM »

      He sells DVD's on his website. Have you checked there?

      www.johnbradshaw.com/healingtheshamethatbindsyou1hourlecture.aspx
      Logged

      Life is short. Shorter for some than others.
      methinkso
      ********
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Posts: 6061


      « Reply #5 on: April 09, 2010, 03:01:49 PM »

      Thanks, Havana. I'd also love to be able to link it here at bpdfamily.com and am really surprised it's not online. His use of the 'mobile' was also very validating for me. In that, he is explaining the codependency in toxic families and how they react when there is any change or crisis by any member of the family unit. He uses the mobile AS the family.

      We see this happen all over these boards. How a member is effected by neurotic behavior from another family member.
      Logged
      blackandwhite
      Retired Staff
      *
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
      Relationship status: married
      Posts: 3115



      « Reply #6 on: April 09, 2010, 03:03:35 PM »

      Excerpt
      We've all seen it. A mother is in a store with a toddler. The toddler is going to do what toddlers do, so, say the toddler touches something out of curiosity. Mother (fill in father, caretaker) smacks the childs hand and LOUDLY admonishes the child. LOUDLY shames the child. The child feels shock and lack of understanding, looks about and sees all the other customers staring with anything from shock, empathy and apathy. The child is well on it's way to building an internal shame base. This can go on to the point that the child starts 'seeing' those looks on others faces, thereby projecting his experiences.

      Certainly a portrait of toxic shame in the making. Bradshaw also talks about shame through abandonment, which is something that really struck home with me. Both my parents have personality disorders and there were periods of severe neglect. Even when basic needs were cared for and my mother seemed very "on" as a parent (there were such times), I was acutely aware of her own needs (for comfort, guidance, reinforcement, care, protection, to keep her tenuous hold on reality from shattering). I completely gave up on the idea that I should have any needs of my own. My parents abandoned me and I abandoned myself. This took the form of a recurrent phrase/thought/feeling: I can sacrifice myself.

      Underneath "I can sacrifice myself" (my needs, my time, my comfort, my interests, my growth, my money, my support, my life) is "I don't matter, I am worthless." That's toxic shame.

      Undoing this shame has been the most profound personal project of my life.

      B&W
      Logged

      What they call you is one thing.
      What you answer to is something else. ~ Lucille Clifton
      methinkso
      ********
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Posts: 6061


      « Reply #7 on: April 09, 2010, 03:16:47 PM »

      I can't say I still even get triggered into feeling shame but it could sneak around the corner when I least expect it.

      I am the sacrifycing type too, B&W but I am MUCH more selective about who I give or share with, or put other's first. MY DH is always saying you give so much of yourself, like when I am fixing dinner. That's the part of the perfectionism that is just not going to go anywhere because it makes me happy to do so and is not hurting anyone.

      I also know the feeling of shame base very well. We were never strangers. An example I recall was when I started 7th grade. Setting the scene: I had already had great emotional abuse at momster's hands for years. I knew I was going into 7th grade and transferring schools but I did NOT know I would be going to a school ten times larger with students I HAD NEVER SEEN BEFORE, whereas I went through most of the early grades with the same students year after year. I was totally unprepared.

      Home room? What the heck is THAT? So then I get to my first class and it was extremely ackward. I could even SMELL the new clothes and see the great pains other parents had put into making their children 'school ready'. I was wearing a used dress that I now know was 'yrs my sr'. By then I was so overwhelmed I had to run from the room. Fight or flight the PTSD. That was the straw to long term abuse. It took me nearly 2 months to get up the courage to easily get through a day at school.

      Can you imagine a 7th grader having NO say in their clothing?

      Logged
      methinkso
      ********
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Posts: 6061


      « Reply #8 on: April 09, 2010, 03:31:29 PM »

      B&W are you willing to share information about abandonment? I know I was but could not figure out the where's and why's in therapy. Is a parent just not being there abandonment?

      My mother was not there for me to teach me anything. She would, on the other hand, ridicule me for choices. She was at work when I was in the 4(?)th grade. I put Dad's hair oil on in preperation for having our school photos taken that day. I believe that was a day we were sans a babysitter. Some of my shame base was because in early adolescence I was learning how ill advanced I was. Other school girls were wrapped up in nail polish, make up, boys. I was still playing with play dough. I had very very little appropriate stimulus up until adolescence. Momster bought me a barbie doll and chatty kathy when I was twelve. Only that to rub it in I wanted one years earlier, she bought evilsis the REAL barbie doll I got my knockoff barbie.

      I know these things are abusive, but do they reflect desertion? Somehow, I feel this is a silly question, like of course they do!
      Logged
      blackandwhite
      Retired Staff
      *
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
      Relationship status: married
      Posts: 3115



      « Reply #9 on: April 09, 2010, 04:38:50 PM »

      Excerpt
      B&W are you willing to share information about abandonment? I know I was but could not figure out the where's and why's in therapy. Is a parent just not being there abandonment?

      Definitely happy to share more. It's a very good topic, often at the core of shame that takes different forms.

      There's a website, hope4survivors.com, with great summaries of Bradshaw's work. Here's the section on abandonment (my bolding):

      Excerpt
      Abandonment


      Physical Desertion - This is the most commonly understood meaning of the word.  This can mean an outright physical separation resulting from a decision not to be involved in your child's life, i.e. giving a child up for adoption or letting someone else raise your child.  This can also include an undesired absence, which can occur from incarceration, illness, death or service away from home in the military. 

      Emotional Abandonment - Children need mirroring from their primary caretakers to develop in a healthy way.  Healthy mirroring means that someone is there for the child and reflects an accurate image of who they really are.  Shame-based parents are co-dependent adult children who are still in search of someone who is always there for them.  The objects of their narcissistic gratification will often be their own children.  In this way, the child takes care of her parent's needs instead of the parents taking care of the child's needs. 

      Abandonment Through Abuse - Abuse equals abandonment because when a child is abused, there is no one there for them.  Young children, because of their natural egocentricity, take responsibility for their abuse.  It is easier for a young child to believe they are to blame for the abuse than to blame the parent(s) whom they rely on for survival.

      MTS, when I read about your feelings of shame at realizing how ill-prepared you were for changes in your schooling and how your mother provided you with age-inappropriate toys, I think of some of the phrases bolded above. She was holding up a distorted mirror, probably in order to meet her own needs (such as keep you younger/thwart your maturing process [less chance of YOU abandoning her] or torment you to make herself feel better?). As a child I imagine you felt confusion and betrayal, and a sense of disorientation. "I don't know who I am supposed to be" is a very shaming feeling, especially in early adolescence. Your mother, for her own reasons (perhaps a lot of shame there in her as well), abandoned you emotionally.

      Those are my initial thoughts, anyway. How does this information feel when you read it?

      B&W
      Logged

      What they call you is one thing.
      What you answer to is something else. ~ Lucille Clifton
      methinkso
      ********
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Posts: 6061


      « Reply #10 on: April 09, 2010, 04:53:44 PM »

      It feels very validating, and supplies me with the acceptance to SAY I was abandoned. You mention the lack of age appropriate things, and I actually do remember momster forcing me between growing up and not growing up. Like I could feel her distress about it and for sure my mother was shame based.

      I think my shame base was so greatly helped by what I have often referred to here as my 'good T' He was an older man, old enough to practically be my grandfather at the time. Through him, I received the proper 'mirroring' we've both mentioned here. It was a process and he informed me he'd be taking me back to a young age. I worked out that shame in his presence. Some ways this came out might astound one.

      I remember things about a spoon and a kleenex where he layed the napkin out so delicately, and wrapped the spoon in it. I was not really conscious of these things when he did them, they were like a 'feel'. I remember him telling me stories, for whole hours because I was so withdrawn and confused he'd have to take up the hour by assuring me. These stories were very very comforting but I cannot relay any of them. I don't want to start a discussion about the T I had because it could be misinforming others and make me answer things I can't. But it has so often been important for me at times, to make other doubting members about T feel there is hope.

      Thanks a lot, B&W. Now I know the use of abandonment is not just about physical desertion (which she did to my eldest brother when he was SIX months old). I still believe he suffers shame base because of that gross action of hers. And to know he learned the reason why she deserted him was to inappropriately chase Dad to his military base. I never even felt it was deserved to say she deserted him (or me) now I do.
      Logged


      blackandwhite
      Retired Staff
      *
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
      Relationship status: married
      Posts: 3115



      « Reply #11 on: April 09, 2010, 06:39:58 PM »

      I wonder how much is shame about things I did as my BPDm's puppet or shame because I continue these behaviours.

      That's an interesting question, simplesimon. Can you say more about it? Bradshaw talks a lot about the concept of "carried shame" that is literally carried from one generation to the next.

      Excerpt
      I feel fear/shame a lot.  I find myself having unrealistic expectations of others, then shame that I feel I can't "measure up".

      Dealt with substance abuse for many years.  The feelings of being "unworthy" and the sadness I feel about not being totally complete about it.

      xoxox

      Do you interpret your expectations as perfectionism? One of the effects of growing up with a BPD parent described in Surviving a Borderline Parent is "expecting perfection from yourself and holding others to that (unrealistic) standard too; being quick to judge; judging others harshly."

      Here's a bit more information about perfectionism, again from hope4survivors.com:

      Excerpt
      Perfectionism

      Perfectionism is learned when a person is valued only for doing.  I once heard this referred to as becoming a humandoing instead of a humanbeing.  A perfectionist has no sense of healthy shame or internal limits... .they never know how much is good enough. 



      In my family, perfectionism was a multi-generational means for passing the "hot potato" of toxic shame.  My maternal grandmother was a perfectionist in the strictest sense of the word.  Her house would have passed anyone's "white glove test" at any given time of the day, week, month or year!  She had her fireplace sealed off from the chimney and it was never used.  It was not good enough that there be no smoke or ashes from the fire, she was determined to keep every speck of environmental "dirt" outside her house.  Having the fireplace flue closed was not good enough.  She had the chimney cemented shut.  The windows in her house were painted shut as well.  Before my grandparents were able to afford central air conditioning, they sweltered in the summer heat with nary a window open!  Grandma was afraid that dust and grime from the street would soil her curtains.  While my mother was not much of a housekeeper, she used this perfectionistic measure against my sister and me as we performed our weekly household chores.  No matter how hard we tried, we never quite measured up!

      Logged

      What they call you is one thing.
      What you answer to is something else. ~ Lucille Clifton
      LionDreamer
      ********
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Relationship status: married
      Posts: 2862



      « Reply #12 on: April 09, 2010, 07:12:49 PM »

      Ohhh blackandwhite,  Thank you so much for this vital topic!  I felt so much shame throughout my life that I could never even look at myself in a mirror.   I felt that somehow I was so damaged, so wounded, so ugly that it had to be showing through my pores and anyone who would look at me could see it.   I recognize that this is toxic shame.  I have all these pictures of myself as a child and my expression is almost everyone shows grimacing or pain, even my fists are clenched and my body is rigid.   Even now in my 50s, I hate to be photographed.  I'd say though I only hate about 1/2 of my photos.  Big step forward right?

      Abandonment too is a tricky issue for me because it, like so much else in my life, was inconsistent.   When I was in early elementary school my mother forgot to pick me up at school (actually the street corner where she usually came because it was too much bother for her to come to the school).   I was left there until dark.   Apparently she had fallen asleep.   I don't remember much of my childhood but I still remember that terror.  And I don't believe she ever owned that she had done something so painful to me, only remarking on how innocent she was of wrong-doing.  And yet at other times she could be available or at least it felt like that to me.   So I just never knew.   I guess that is abandonment too. 

      I'm pretty sure my father abused me from about the age of 2 (I know this for several reasons one of which is that I apparently stopped eating and walking at that age).   I could not have possibly understood that what he was doing was "shameful" but still (and here again I had to piece together the pieces) there had to be secrecy surrounding it, which I'm pretty sure grew into shame for me.  I'm also pretty sure he would wake me up to engage in his covert activities with me.  I had migraine headaches and was dependent on sleeping pills by the time I was 10 or 11.   I still struggle with headaches and insomnia when times get tough.  I guess I can trace these issues in my life to shame,

      LD
      Logged
      Jenk
      *******
      Offline Offline

      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Posts: 1019



      « Reply #13 on: April 09, 2010, 11:10:08 PM »

      Do you have any of these "fleas" or after effects of spending time in a BPD environment?



      • Perfectionism?


      • Addictions to substances, food, and other compulsive behaviors?


      • People pleasing?



      My answers, in chronological order: yes; somewhat (minor OCD symptoms); and yes.  


      Jenk
      Logged
      kkriesel
      ****
      Offline Offline

      What is your sexual orientation: Gay, lesb
      Relationship status: living alone, wonderful girlfriend
      Posts: 291


      WWW
      « Reply #14 on: April 10, 2010, 12:23:31 AM »

      Shame has been probably one of the top five defining factors of my life.  I've never had any unusual addictions, I think because so many other healthy people have been in my life (particularly super-cook Gramma), but I've always been a perfectionist and have rated myself on pleasing people.

      The most obvious manifestation of my constant shame is how often I apologize.  I'm always apologizing for everything!  And it isn't insincere, I do feel responsible and guilty for so many things - my perfectionism is that all-encompassing.

      Threats of and actual abandonment brought about the shame.  My parents divorced when I was 4 and then a huge chunk of uBPDm's family just disappeared from my life.  UBPDm figured that threatening to leave, as well, if I wasn't psychically & telekinetically perfect, she could threaten to leave me... .or claimed that I had abandoned her by failing.

      I'm better with my chosen relationships and extended family now... .but I still get panicky with bosses, supervisors, teachers/professors - people who have more control over my situation than I do (like uBPDm for the first 23 years of my life!). 
      Logged

      tenacity
      ********
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Relationship status: Happily married 28 years.
      Posts: 1287



      « Reply #15 on: April 10, 2010, 01:21:14 AM »

      I too felt a lot of shame growing up and it just got worse as I got older. Only two years ago (I am 49) did I understand what caused it and start working at getting better.

      It wasn't so much what my BPD mom did as much as what she let others do to us. She was a perfectionist and very controlling but her brothers and sisters were very abusive to us as kids. They called us names from the time we were very young, made fun of all the girls as they started to get figures - in pretty vicious ways, made sure we all knew how stupid we were, etc. I think it was having all of this happen and then going to a parent and rightfully expecting them to stick up for you and getting nothing, that made a lot of us ( my cousins and me) grow up feeling worthless.

      I remember a time when I was maybe 12 and I was walking in my aunt's kitchen in her new house. I wasn't aware of a step down from the back screened in porch to the kitchen floor. I was carrying a pretty full, glass punch bowl into the kitchen, tripped on the step and fell right onto the glass bowl. NOBODY asked me how I was. They all stood around me in a circle making comments about how clumsy I was and 'look at how she spilled the punch everywhere.' I was humiliated and just wanted to crawl into a hole. This is how we got treated by them forever. I remember a time when one of my aunts grabbed my cheek so hard and squeezed it and twisted it right and front of both of my parents. It killed, and brought tears to my eyes. When I said something to BPD mom about it later she said this aunt always does stuff like that... .no big deal... .my dad never reacted at all.

      Growing up with that taught me to doubt myself and feel like crap, like I somehow deserved to be treated this way. Finding out about BPD was a godsend. I FINALLY can see the problem for what it is. But finding it out so late in life is hard. Things could have been so different. I can't imagine what it would have been like to go through life relatively confident. NOW I plan on making up for lost time. And I spend ZERO time with that personality type any more. I used to attract BPDs like a magnet, like so many of us here. If I even SENSE that they are like that I don't spend any more time around them. I am very protective of myself now.

      denise
      Logged
      blackandwhite
      Retired Staff
      *
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
      Relationship status: married
      Posts: 3115



      « Reply #16 on: April 10, 2010, 09:33:36 AM »

      Thank you simplesimon, methinkso, liondreamer, jenk, kkriesel, and tenacity for sharing parts of your story (and havana for the link!). It seems like shame has been a large and painful presence in many of our lives. To learn a bit more about it, here's a chart contrasting healthy and some aspects of toxic shame (help4survivors.com summarizing Bradshaw):





      Healthy Shame

      Shame as Embarrassment and Blushing

      Mistakes are a part of human nature. With blushing, we know we've made a mistake.

      Shame as Shyness

      Shyness is a natural boundary that keeps us from being harmed by a stranger.

      Shame as the Basic Need for Community

      As humans, we have a basic need for community. Our shame in this case acts as a healthy reminder that sometimes we need help and that we have a need to be involved in loving, caring relationships.

      Shame as the Source of Creativity and Leaning

      One of the biggest road blocks to creativity is a feeling of being right.  When we think we are absolutely right, we stop seeking further information.  Being certain stops curiosity.  Curiosity is at the heart of all learning.  Our healthy shame never allows us to think we know it all.

      Shame as the Source of Spirituality

      Some would say that spirituality is our ultimate human need.  Healthy shame is essential for grounding ourselves to this ultimate source of reality.  Healthy shame reminds us that we are not God.  It grounds us in humility.
      Toxic Shame

      Neurotic Syndromes of Shame

      Internalization of Shame

      Internalization of shame involves at least 3 processes:

      1) Identification with Shame-Based Models

      The need to identify with someone, to belong is one of our most basic human needs.  Second only to self-preservation. This begins with our primary caregivers and significant others.  When children have shame-based caregivers and significant others, they identify with them.  This is the first step in internalizing shame. 

      2) Abandonment:  The Legacy of Broken Mutuality

      Children find love, acceptance and identity in the mirroring eyes of their parents or primary caregivers.  Abandonment can include this lack or loss of positive mirroring, not just physical abandonment. 

      Besides physical desertion and lack of mirroring, abandonment includes any of the following:

      -  Neglect

      -  Abuse of any kind

      -  Enmeshment into the needs of the parents

      3) Interconnection of Memory Imprints

      Shaming experiences are recorded in a child's memory banks.  As Bradshaw explains, "Because the victim has no time or support to grieve the pain of the broken mutuality, his emotions are repressed and the grief is unresolved."  Any future experience which even vaguely resembles the original shame-based trauma can easily TRIGGER the words, sights, sounds, smells or other senses involved in the original trauma.

      Self-Alienation and Isolation

      Alienation means that you experience parts of yourself that are alien to you. [From the author at hope4survivors.com] For example, I was shamed for crying during my childhood abuse.  Therefore, feeling grief and crying became an alienated part of myself.  When ever I feel grief now, I often experience toxic shame. This is why it is so important to lean how to heal the toxic shame that binds us to our past trauma in order to adequately process these unresolved emotions.

      Shame as the False Self

      "Because the exposure of self to self lies at the heart of neurotic shame, escape from the self is necessary."  This is accomplished by creating a false self.

      Shame as Co-Dependency

         

      People who are co-dependent try to get their inner child's needs met through another adult and/or they focus all of their nurturing abilities on other adults (usually a significant other) who are trying to get these needs met through others.  People who are co-dependent have no inner life. They lack the ability to get their needs met from within themselves. Therefore, happiness and feelings of self-validation are found outside themselves.

      Logged

      What they call you is one thing.
      What you answer to is something else. ~ Lucille Clifton
      LOAnnie
      ********
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Relationship status: single
      Posts: 1678


      « Reply #17 on: April 10, 2010, 10:03:31 AM »

      Fascinating thread.  I too grew up with an angry, perfectionistic BPD/NPD mom; whatever new thing she told us to do, we had to understand it instantly and do it right the first time, or be screamed at, threatened, called ugly names, etc., even as very small children.  I learned very early in life that I didn't dare ask my mother to repeat herself, or ask her for help with anything; it irritated her and irritation could trigger into rage.  I definitely believe I was loaded up to capacity with shame as the major component of my being, and according to the Bradshaw excerpt, exhibit many of the symptoms of toxic shame.  I too was a perfectionist, for most of my life.  I consciously decided I didn't want to be perfectionistic anymore, it was causing me too much stress and it wasn't helping me "win" anyway (RE a work situation I was in with a boss who didn't like me.)  So, screw the perfectionism.  Thanks for posting that site about toxic shame, definitely going to check that out RE getting rid of ts.

      -LOAnnie
      Logged
      methinkso
      ********
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Posts: 6061


      « Reply #18 on: April 10, 2010, 11:02:11 AM »

      Generational shame was mentioned. Much too young to have been able to understand the psychology, THIS was that weird thing I always sensed (heavily so) about momster's foo.

      Too long ago to remember even what it was titled, I read literature that explained how the shame would carry on from generation to generation until someone else 'fixed' that one person's problem. BPD or not, I believe this is why momster expected her own children to 'fix' everything. I stated to my last psyche, "My mother never fixed a problem in her life".

      Another way to express this is to say "they didn't pay their own psychological bills" but carried those debts over to their own offspring.

      I was speaking with my aunt about how momster had to get married (she claimed she never knew that oh come on for Lord's sakes). I digress. Aunt said that when she was little her gmother explained aunts mother (her D) being pregnant out of wedlock in this way: "It happens with each second generation". And I could hear in aunt's voice the acceptance, and even FACT that 'this is just the way it is'. As she also said about momster mistreating me, "See, it's history repeating itself" as if it could not be changed. An accepted predicted doom, if you will. I call it ignorance.
      Logged
      oceanheart
      BPD Educator
      ****
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Who in your life has "personality" issues: Other
      Posts: 466


      WWW
      « Reply #19 on: April 10, 2010, 11:17:50 AM »

      Underneath "I can sacrifice myself" (my needs, my time, my comfort, my interests, my growth, my money, my support, my life) is "I don't matter, I am worthless." That's toxic shame.

      Undoing this shame has been the most profound personal project of my life.

      Hi, B&W - would you be willing to share some of the things you've done to work on this issue? What's been successful for you?
      Logged
      still around
      ***
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Posts: 152



      « Reply #20 on: April 10, 2010, 11:56:00 AM »

      I'm not sure if I can post to a workshop, but since this is on the "Coping" board, I'll try anyway.

      Haven't read this entire thread yet, but someone at the beginning used the example of mother holding child, child touches something --  my mother detests being touched, but oddly will cling much too tight in a hug if she initiates it.  When I was seven or eight, my mother came into my bedroom unexpectedly one night and said she'd read me a story.  This was unprecedented, she had many, many recollections which she would tell at the dinner table and other places, especially when non-FOOs were present, that she had taught me to read before I ever went to school, by reading to me for hours on end when I was pre-kindergarten.  Don't know if that was true or not, but I've no memory of her reading to me anytime when I was older.  Anyway, she came in with a book and said she was going to read to me, and I was delighted, and I snuggled up to her as close as I dared, and when she didn't move, I reached up and touched her face, not roughly, just caressingly, and that tore it.  She leaped up like she'd been shot and stormed out of the room.  She went and got my father and he came in and put the fear of God into me, even though it was already there, LOL.  And I felt awful because I had done that, I can still remember how awful it made me feel.

      And this never changed.  She would occasionally tolerate a brief hug if there was some kind of occasion of celebration, but not very welcoming of it, and of course I wasn't too astute about it, I was always pursuing her trying to prove I was worthy of affection.  When she complained about her back and shoulders aching a few years ago when I was around her for several weeks, I was thrilled because I was always told by friends and co-workers that I gave great backrubs and I was going to give her one, but she froze up under my hands and said, between her teeth, "I HATE being touched."  And I understood, like I couldn't understand as a child, because when people I don't like or don't trust touch ME, I freeze up too, but I lose myself when stressed like that and so I don't effectively get rid of them verbally and upfront like Mother.  (Gotta give her credit for that, and I do.)

      But she would literally grab me in a gorilla grip when she was the one to want to hug, and I never knew what I would get.  There came a time when I started to shy away from her touching me, and it was when I was in my mid 20's and just a few months away from a nervous breakdown, she grabbed me in this bone-crushing, body plastered against body hug which I right away started trying to wiggle away from, it was awful, and she squeezed harder and started literally crushing the breath out of me, and she kissed me on the cheek because I turned my head, I think she wanted to get on my lips but I can't say for sure, and she opened her mouth and I felt her teeth, and while I was desperately trying to crane my head around to get away from the "kiss" she started sucking my face, it was unspeakable, and then SHE BIT ME!  She only got to give me a small nip, because

      it was then I escaped out of the grip.  I've only ever twice since, had that kind of strenth and it was when my two babies were born, it was the same kind of spine curving, huge massive push that broke her grip and got me away from her.  And of course there was no scene, no disruption, everything just went on as before, because it was Saturday and my father? was around.  So there was some kind of a conversation, etc. as though nothing had happened, I don't remember running away screaming or anything normal like that.  Had I done something to make a scene, or anything to object about being treated like that, it would've been turned and twisted against me.  I may not have been  brave, but at least I'm still alive and still around, LOL.

      However, I feel huge shame because I never learned to cope with my parents, and I experience it over and over and over again all the time.  That part of me has never changed, and I have to tell you in all honesty that I don't know if it ever will.  I use the example of the child touching something, but I have had many other things to bring down toxic shame on my head and the awful thing is, I can't get out of it.  Still living in it and actually having it happen via other people not in the FOO.  So I believe I know what shame is, I would love to learn ways to get out ot it.  Thanks for listening. (Can't possibly thank you enough for all the support and tools that are here.)

      s a
      Logged

      God doesn't see me as my parents' child, He sees me as HIS child.


      LOAnnie
      ********
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Relationship status: single
      Posts: 1678


      « Reply #21 on: April 10, 2010, 12:08:07 PM »

      Still around, that just makes me cry.  You poor little bewildered kid, just craving to be close to your mother, and sweetly touching her face out of love got you rejected and abused by both of your parents.  Good Lord in heaven.  These pd people are just so damned damaged and incompetent to parent, and yet so convinced in their narcissism that they have what it takes to nurture little, helpless children.  The level of the narcissism and the profound lack of empathy I read of in post after post just staggers me.  It never ceases to stagger me.  I'm so sorry you experienced such a traumatic rejection,  no child should be subjected to that.

      -LOAnnie
      Logged
      blackandwhite
      Retired Staff
      *
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
      Relationship status: married
      Posts: 3115



      « Reply #22 on: April 10, 2010, 04:09:54 PM »

      LOAnnie, still around thank you for contributing some of your story. Still around, your story of your mother's rejection of you is so heartbreaking.   I hope you know that you are deserving of love, intimacy, and comfort.

      Methinkso, one wonderful thing is that we can actually stop the pattern of shame carried across generations.

      Underneath "I can sacrifice myself" (my needs, my time, my comfort, my interests, my growth, my money, my support, my life) is "I don't matter, I am worthless." That's toxic shame.

      Undoing this shame has been the most profound personal project of my life.

      Hi, B&W - would you be willing to share some of the things you've done to work on this issue? What's been successful for you?

      Oceanheart, I absolutely will. We probably have more to discuss about the basics of toxic shame, but one method I used that also helps us identify it in our lives was a simple checklist to see what manifestations of it I could see in my life. I did this with my therapist as well in my reading. Surviving a Borderline Parent has a section called "Confronting Vestiges of the Past" that includes a list of "by-products" (what we tend to call fleas/ my-issuesaround here) of having been raised by a parent with BPD or similar emotional and cognitive patterns. The fleas are:



      • difficulty trusting yourself and others


      • feeling shame*


      • feeling guilt


      • possessing a negative self-concept, including self-definition, self-esteem, self-awareness, self-expression*


      • difficulty setting appropriate boundaries


      • being quick to judge; judging yourself and others harshly*


      • black-and-white thinking


      • feeling out of sync with others*


      • difficulty regulating emotions


      • engaging in self-harming or self-defeating behaviors*




      The authors provide an exercise to help you determine which of these areas are of most concern to you (some won't apply and you may have areas of concern that range from mild to extreme). I've asterisked some sections that apply very closely to toxic shame--

      *Shame, for obvious reasons.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

      *Possessing a negative self-concept because these core beliefs about ourselves flow out of shame and reinforce it.

      *Judging harshly because it represents "shamelessness," in Bradshaw's terms--perfectionism or an impossible standard that when (inevitably) not met, causes a flush of shame about oneself or rejection of others.

      *Feeling out of sync is probably the biggest stretch, but I link it to shame as well. There is a sense many of us develop that we don't belong or we're not like others. That sense of difference can be deeply shameful. We can even feel we are not quite human like others, not deserving of kindness, respect, age- or situation-appropriate care, or love.

      *Engaging in self-harm because these are some of the compulsive behaviors that distract us from shame.

      The self-test exercise for those sections is here:

      Stop and Think: Where Are You

      For each of the following statements within each area, rate how closely you identify--1 indicating that you don't identify at all; 10 indicating that you identify very strongly.

      Feeling Shame

      hit If I make even a silly mistake, I feel ashamed.

      hit I feel undeserving of people's kindness, love, affection

      hit Sometimes I feel like I don't have the right to just "be."

      hit I can't seem to do anything right.

      Possessing a Negative Self-Concept

      hit Deep down, I wonder who I am.

      hit It's a challenge for me to identify how I really feel about an issue or event. Sometimes I just feel numb, or the feelings can be so overwhelming, it's hard to separate them.

      hit I often repress or deny my feelings and say things like, "Oh, it wasn't that bad."

      hit If I don't have the same beliefs and feelings as others, I worry that they won't accept me.

      hit I'm uncomfortable telling others, directly, how I feel and addressing issues with them.

      hit I prefer to stay in the background; I feel uncomfortable when I'm the center of attention.

      hit I feel unlovable.

      Judging Yourself and Others Harshly

      hit Doing things exactly right is important to me.

      hit People will think less of me if I make a mistake.

      hit I've been told I'm a perfectionist, and that may be true.

      hit I find that I'm quick to judge others (in positive or negative ways).

      hit I tend to focus on people's flaws rather than their good points.

      hit I tend to focus on my flaws rather than my good points.

      hit It's generally hard for me to accept someone just as they are. I find that I wish they could be different.

      hit It's hard for me to accept myself. I often wish I were different.

      hit If I'm with someone and they do something wrong, it reflects on me.

      Feeling Out of Sync with Others

      hit I was a late-bloomer in some ways; there are things I realize I need ot learn now that others learned when they were kids.

      hit I sometimes feel many years older than my contemporaries.

      hit People have told me that I seem wise beyond my years.

      hit No one really understands me or what I've been through.

      hit I'm different than other people.

      hit I feel like I'm playing catch-up all the time.

      hit I can become highly anxious in new social situations.

      Engaging in Self-Harming or Self-Defeating Behaviors

      hit There have been periods in my life where I've been quite promiscuous.

      hit I show my feelings for people I'm interested in romantically through physical intimacy.

      hit When someone suggests I not do something, I take it as a challenge and do it anyway.

      hit I beleive in throwing caution to the wind. You only live once, right?

      hit I use things like alcohol, drugs, tobacco, sex, gambling, or shopping to make myself feel better.

      hit I've had a problem in the past with addiction.

      Areas of high scores indicate places to focus your recovery work.
      Logged

      What they call you is one thing.
      What you answer to is something else. ~ Lucille Clifton
      Japanese Doll
      ****
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Relationship status: married
      Posts: 328


      « Reply #23 on: April 10, 2010, 06:21:57 PM »

      This is an interesting thread to me.  I just started reading "healing the shame that binds you" by John Bradshaw.  Thanks

      Japanese Doll
      Logged
      oceanheart
      BPD Educator
      ****
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Who in your life has "personality" issues: Other
      Posts: 466


      WWW
      « Reply #24 on: April 10, 2010, 06:41:00 PM »

      Quote from: B&W
      We probably have more to discuss about the basics of toxic shame... .

      Sorry for rushing things Smiling (click to insert in post) I just found this topic very timely and useful and wanted to get started on what we can do. Didn't mean to try to control the direction. haha, I think I'm feeling a little ashamed   But thanks so much for starting this!

      For me, most of the statements rang very true, but especially the "feeling-out-of-sync" - I've chronically isolated myself for years (except for unhealthy romantic relationships) because I feel so alienated from other people. I want to belong but don't feel I deserve to unless I'm, well, good enough - and I'm way too far from that, so I just keep to myself. And people like to use the word "eccentric" around me, well, because I am. Even though it's used with affection (they say it is), it still makes me feel kinda bad about myself. Who wants to be weird?
      Logged
      blackandwhite
      Retired Staff
      *
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
      Relationship status: married
      Posts: 3115



      « Reply #25 on: April 10, 2010, 06:54:09 PM »

      Quote from: B&W
      We probably have more to discuss about the basics of toxic shame... .

      Sorry for rushing things Smiling (click to insert in post) I just found this topic very timely and useful and wanted to get started on what we can do. Didn't mean to try to control the direction. haha, I think I'm feeling a little ashamed   But thanks so much for starting this!

      I'm super glad you asked!  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) Those "what we can do" strategies are exactly what I hope we can explore and where we end up. I also hope others will jump in with their questions and approaches that have worked for them.

      I also felt quite drawn to the out of sync section. I think when you have so many secrets you are meant to keep as a child, you swallow them and they become spaces inside you that separate you from other people. You know the face you present to the world isn't really true and you are set apart.

      xoxox

      B&W
      Logged

      What they call you is one thing.
      What you answer to is something else. ~ Lucille Clifton
      LionDreamer
      ********
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Relationship status: married
      Posts: 2862



      « Reply #26 on: April 11, 2010, 03:04:45 PM »

      I must confess I am not familiar with Bradshaw's writing surrounding shame but I am profoundly uncomfortable with the concept of "healthy shame".   I think these two words are mutually exclusive.   I looked up the term "shame" in in dictionary and the words used in the definition are:  guilt, blameworthiness, dishonor, and disgrace. 

      There are other ways to get to the good aspects of what is referred to as "healthy shame" 

      If the goal is humility there are more organic ways to achieve this.   I think of the song "I hope you dance" and the words from it "I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean."    Just being out in nature and connecting with the cycles of life, are enough for me to gain humility.   

      If the goal is to recognize when we make mistakes, I would prefer to use the paradigm of self-responsibility to take ownership of our own mistakes.  We're all human, we don't need to be feeling shame for making mistakes unless we are deliberately setting out to hurt others (and believe me abusers never feel shame). 

      If the goal is community, I would think its an open heart that will achieve that goal.

      If the goal is creativity and learning, I think we need to get in touch with our inner child - children have a natural curiosity and love of learning and if allowed to develop wonderful creativity. 

      If the goal is spirituality, I would again go back to the lessons that nature has to offer. 

      Shame, guilt and fear - to my thinking - are the tools of the abuser to exert power and control over someone else.  Its also used in other situations and never to positive effect.   I just can't view shame as being healthy in any circumstance short of say evil recognizing itself.

      Those are just my thoughts,

      LD
      Logged
      methinkso
      ********
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Posts: 6061


      « Reply #27 on: April 11, 2010, 05:23:27 PM »

      For me, it's one thing to own having done something shameful vs BEING shamed, as in toxic shame.

      My mother would castigate me with shame over nothing and I mean absolutely nothing. She was my mother. I internalized it.

      I also think when a child (IF a child) misbehaves the amount of shame a parent projects onto/into the child has an impact on how shameful the child's behavior feels. Ex: said in a very low pitched voice full of shock "How could you DO that"! then walking the parent turning away as if they are repelled. I don't see that as a useful too in any parenting.
      Logged
      Cordelia
      formerly salome
      ********
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
      Posts: 1465



      « Reply #28 on: April 12, 2010, 07:26:08 AM »

      I am profoundly uncomfortable with the concept of "healthy shame".   I think these two words are mutually exclusive. 

      I don't know, I found this to be very helpful.  For me, it's very important to own my own mistakes, because that's exactly what mom never did - whenever she did something wrong, it was my fault.  I never want to do that to someone!  And I never want to be so weak, so pathetically fragile, that I can't handle admitting that I did something wrong, or to try to make amends to the person that I hurt. 

      I really like Bradshaw's distinction between healthy shame as being something you can fix - you realize what you did, you make an apology or restitution, and you resolve not to do it again and - you're free!  It's over, without damaging your sense of self.  Whereas toxic shame is where a mistake becomes an essential part of who you are and how you relate to the world, where you are not an individual who makes mistakes but an individual who IS a mistake.  That's when it become this wound that never heals, that people try to fix with addiction or other destructive behaviors. 

      He writes that abusers are "shameless" - people who SHOULD feel ashamed of what they're doing, but don't.  And so their children or the people who are abused absorb that shame for them, out of a sense that *someone* needs to take responsibility for what's happening, and since the person who ought to isn't, they will themselves, even though it's unjust.  And as adults, we survivors need to work on putting that sense of shame back where it belongs - on the people who hurt innocent bystanders rather than deal with their own issues. 
      Logged
      oceanheart
      BPD Educator
      ****
      Offline Offline

      Gender: Female
      What is your sexual orientation: Straight
      Who in your life has "personality" issues: Other
      Posts: 466


      WWW
      « Reply #29 on: April 12, 2010, 09:30:15 AM »

      Yes, I like what salome was saying.

      I was "shamed" when my parents caught me masturbating around puberty. Instead of dealing with it in a healthy, constructive way, my mom basically accused me of "doing something dirty", let alone doing it in front of my opposite-sex parent. I was toxically ashamed of my natural drive for years.

      I felt healthy shame when a close friend of mine told me, "you know, you can be cruel." It was news to me up until he said anything (and I give him so much credit for telling me it in a really self-saving, non-judgmental way). It made me look at my behavior and it's consequences on someone I loved, and change it because I hated making him feel bad. After he told me, I noticed in myself a tendency to cut deep at others when I felt the most threatened and was able to learn to not fight dirty like that.

      Shame is a natural emotion for a social species like ours and I think it is helpful in letting the individual know his/her behavior is hurtful. But just like all the rest of our emotions, it can be used against us. I think I'm the worst enemy I have when it comes to shaming myself - I must have internalized it as well... .
      Logged
      Pages: [1] 2 3  All   Go Up
        Print  
       
      Jump to:  

      Links and Information
      CLINICAL INFORMATION
      The Big Picture
      5 Dimensions of Personality
      BPD? How can I know?
      Get Someone into Therapy
      Treatment of BPD
      Full Clinical Definition
      Top 50 Questions

      EDITORIAL DEPARTMENTS
      My Child has BPD
      My Parent/Sibling has BPD
      My Significant Other has BPD
      Recovering a Breakup
      My Failing Romance
      Endorsed Books
      Archived Articles

      RELATIONSHIP TOOLS
      How to Stop Reacting
      Ending Cycle of Conflict
      Listen with Empathy
      Don't Be Invalidating
      Values and Boundaries
      On-Line CBT Program
      >> More Tools

      MESSAGEBOARD GENERAL
      Membership Eligibility
      Messageboard Guidelines
      Directory
      Suicidal Ideation
      Domestic Violence
      ABOUT US
      Mission
      Policy and Disclaimers
      Professional Endorsements
      Wikipedia
      Facebook

      BPDFamily.org

      Your Account
      Settings

      Moderation Appeal
      Become a Sponsor
      Sponsorship Account


      Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2006-2020, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!