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Author Topic: 4.15 | Toxic Shame - What Is It and What Can We Do About It?  (Read 25697 times)
oceanheart
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« Reply #30 on: April 12, 2010, 09:54:50 AM »

Sorry for monopolizing the conversation   but I happen to have a loot of free time   and obviously a lot of issues!

I also remember getting caught drinking when I was around 14. I lived in a community where everyone knew each other and everyone knew my parents because they were teachers. So anything I did got right back to them pretty quickly and the sister of the guy we were drinking with ratted us out. The next day I had to wait for my mom to get back from church, knowing she knew. My stomach felt like a black hole. I waited for her outside. She didn't say anything when she arrived, but the look she gave me caused me to burst out in tears and ask, ":)o you hate me?" She said, "no, I'm just really disappointed in you" and walked inside and closed the door. I felt like I was  a rotten kid. There could be severe penalties for underage drinking since I lived on an army base on an island and my parents could have lost their jobs and we would have had to leave if I had gotten caught by the cops instead. What a horrible daughter I was!

I know to many people who have undergone horrific abuse by their parents, it sounds like I'm whining over nothing. And that's probably true. But there's something to be said about chronic "benign neglect" being destructive, too. Invalidation as a child is painful; never being right enough, never good enough, never being what they wanted, always being the one to blame (or even just feeling that way, whether true or not). And with the thought in the back of my head that since I was adopted, they could always take me back, like some defective toy... .I used to make the joke that since I was born on Mother's Day, my biomom must not have liked her present, because she returned it (she was supposed to give me up, changed her mind, kept me for 9 days, changed her mind, then gave me up where I spent 2 weeks in the hospital with thrush before my adoptive parents took me home). Feeling like fundamentally you're unloveable by everyone important in your life. What's the common denominator? Me. How is a kid not supposed to come to that conclusion?
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« Reply #31 on: April 12, 2010, 10:12:16 AM »

B&W

I think my behaviours (not trusting, emotionally explosive) are things carried forward from "conditioning" of my childhood.  I think for me the idea was that my BPDm conditioned me so well that when I feel critisized, I react in a negative and distructive way.  I usually self sacrifice, but then I get annoyed with myself and others for "taking advantage of me" even though I set myself in that role.  I struggle to "let go" of things.  I usually explode of something stupid then I shame and guilt myself for being an idiot... .and allow it to drag me down.
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« Reply #32 on: April 12, 2010, 11:22:40 AM »

So much of that list applies to me... .but how can I change it?
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« Reply #33 on: April 12, 2010, 11:47:16 PM »

Wow, so much interesting stuff here. So much pain, too.  xoxox

Thinking about LionDreamer's concern over the term "healthy shame," it strikes me as a wonderful thing that we can have these differences. It's not black and white (in all due deference to my own screen name  Smiling (click to insert in post)); we can take what's useful to each of us and leave the rest.

I personally do see shame as an emotion that comes with being human, just like fear, joy, guilt, happiness, and so on. What I think goes wrong in a shame-based family is what the stories here have indicated. We are shamed in profound ways when we're too young, undefined, and vulnerable to let it roll off us; instead, we absorb it.

From hope4survivors.com (quoting Bradshaw):
Excerpt
"Toxic shame results from the unexpected exposure of vulnerable aspects of a child's self.  This exposure takes place before the child has any ego boundaries to protect himself.  The early shaming events happen in a context where the child has no ability to choose.  The felt experience of shame is the feeling of being exposed and seen when one is not ready to be seen."  Toxic shame often manifests itself in the form of dreams in which a person appears naked or in their underwear in inappropriate places.  These dreams can also involve being unprepared, as in being in front of a large group and being unable to deliver a speech, being in a classroom and not having studied for an exam, etc.

Our shame meters are "off" until we do something about it, just like our fear, anger, and other "meters" are sometimes off. (See US: Respecting Our Anger for more on exploring ways to rethink our own anger.)

When our shame "meters" are off, they are easily triggered. We make a small mistake, and we feel profound shame. Someone makes a joke, which we could take in humor, but instead we feel profound shame. I found a hole in my sock not long ago, and I felt... .profound shame, quickly followed in my mind by "This is ridiculous! It's a hole in my sock. I'm not out there performing dastardly acts! It's a hole in my sock!"

Oceanheart and kkriesel asked the question we all have to ask: What can we do about it?

As the hole in my sock example illustrates, I'm by no means the poster child for completely eliminating toxic shame. But I've done a lot of work on it and feel immensely better as a result. So I'll share the strategies that have worked for me, as well as general information on ways to recalibrate that old shame meter. I hope others who are working on this will share as well.

The key strategies that have helped me (more detail later) include:



  • Examining and questioning specific negative core beliefs.


  • Developing healthy lifestyle patterns


  • Mindfulness practice


  • Supportive therapy with inner child work


  • EMDR/trauma recovery




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methinkso
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« Reply #34 on: April 13, 2010, 12:03:53 AM »

B&W,

You're supplying lots of useful information. I took an earlier test from here and though I felt I scored low on most, I scored the highest on the out of sync section. And I analyzed that. My out of sync is mostly due to exposure/invalidation by foo.So in a sense, I could be projecting their twisted interpretation of 'me'.

I'm wondering, and hope others will follow, how much improvement they have gained to ditch toxic shame by being subjected to healthy people who mirror back to them appropriatness? I KNOW that having contact with more healthy people than my family for years helped me come a long way in feeling much less toxic shame.

And as always, I hope others can make progress in ditching that 'monkey on the back' that was by none of their own doing.
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« Reply #35 on: April 13, 2010, 12:21:17 AM »

I'd like to elaborate on what I just posted about being subjected to foo. I can 'feel' exactly what I am talking about.

It's as if DH and I live in two different worlds. For many years my foo, even momster seemed like all the abuse/damage was behind us and I know now that I was in a position to project that onto siblings. A lot of projection on my part.

But I was sensing the two worlds up to probably ten years ago, and often, while things seemed relatively 'normal' around my foo, I'd come away feeling bad. Even brief phone calls, I can recognize now, had me feeling bad, though at the time I did not analyze or even 'own' it. I suppose I am talking about being triggered by very subtle things I did not want to see.

I also have learned that these things are why sometimes it is vital to cease all contact with foo for growth and survival. And  believe me, that has broken my heart for a year now, especially these last few months. I am still vulnerable to be cast in these ugly shadows they have in their minds of me due to their lack of seeking professional help/growth. It's like I would feel this pall after contact with them but not enough to get my full attention.

I hope this makes sense. I am saying that we can grow into a better place, but it can be hard to protect our growth from things that drag our subconsious into the past.

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blackandwhite
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« Reply #36 on: April 13, 2010, 02:46:35 PM »

Quote from methinkso

Excerpt
I am saying that we can grow into a better place, but it can be hard to protect our growth from things that drag our subconsious into the past.

Yes, it sure does make sense.   I think you're right on here as well:

Excerpt
I KNOW that having contact with more healthy people than my family for years helped me come a long way in feeling much less toxic shame.



Let me add that to our list of recovery strategies. Another I should add is fostering positive entitlement, as explored in the Survivors' Guide in the right hand panel of the Coping and Healing Board and also in this workshop:

US: Positive entitlement--taking the initiative to share in life's riches

We often view entitlement in a negative light, but there's also a positive version--honoring our own self-worth. Many raised in a BPD environment suffer from low self-esteem and fear and anxiety about pursuing our own fulfillment. This workshop explores the concept of positive entitlement, how to evaluate areas of self-esteem to work on, and ways to embrace positive entitlement.

https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=111984.0

Recovery Strategies for Toxic Shame

1. Examining and questioning specific negative core beliefs.

2. Developing healthy lifestyle patterns

3. Spending time with and learning from (mirroring) healthy people

4. Mindfulness practice

5. Supportive therapy with inner child work

6. Fostering positive entitlement

7. EMDR/trauma recovery

On #1, Surviving the Borderline Parent has very helpful things to say:

Excerpt
Challenging Core Beliefs

Let's say you wonder whether you really are lovable. Growing up, you endured much erratic and perhaps cruel behavior from a parent who was inconsistent with affection, raged often and projected her angry feelings onto you, accusing you of being a "bitter" person who caused fights to erupt in your wake. Today, as an adult, have you noticed that you've found yourself in situations where that has indeed happened? Have you chosen friends who say or convey similar sentiments to you? Have you ever noticed that you react to people defensively as though they must be thinking you're a bitter person, when really they may not have any such notion? Have you lashed out at someone because you thought they were attacking you, even though they weren't? Your thoughts and your subsequent actions and reactions reinforce your core beliefs. They act as a self-fulfilling prophesy. They allow you to say, "See, I really am bitter."

That's the bad news. The good news is that once you can identify and challenge such beliefs, your experience changes too. As you stop seeing yourself as a bitter, unlovable person, you'll increasingly act with openness and acceptance towards others. People will notice and respond in much the same way. You'll seek out healthier folks to surround yourself with, and, rather than reinforce your earlier beliefs, new experiences will help you change them.

I'll add in more on challenging core beliefs in a bit.

B&W
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« Reply #37 on: April 13, 2010, 02:55:13 PM »

 Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

Great topic. I have to come back to this. Very triggered

I agree with some others. Most important topic I have run across in this whole board.
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BMama
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« Reply #38 on: April 13, 2010, 08:15:09 PM »

B&W... .I have totally missed this thread.  I've been a little off in la la land after my T session last week where we discussed the adult ADHD.  However, this is extremely timely to that pre-diagnosis reading I'm supposed to do.  I can answer yes to a lot of your questions up there, so I'm gonna copy/paste into Word, print, and take this to my appointment this week.  I keep resisting a biological explanation for my perfectionistic tendencies because I feel like I am the way I am more because of nuture (or lack thereof) than nature, and this might be the key.  Thank you so much for starting this thread.  I'm gonna go back and read more, and try to keep up now so I can see if it fits like I think it does.

xoxox
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« Reply #39 on: April 13, 2010, 11:22:29 PM »

Backtome09 and BMama,

xoxox  xoxox

Following up with the "challenging core beliefs" strategy, here's an article about cognitive traps we get caught in. If I go back to my very simple "I have a hole in my sock" = shame example, I can see several of these. (More after the article.)

Ten Forms of Twisted Thinking

By Dr. David Burns

Companion article to bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=56200.0

From The Feeling Good Handbook (Plume Publishers, 1999)


Excerpt
1. All-or-nothing thinking - You see things in black-or-white categories. If a situation falls short of perfect, you see it as a total failure. When a young woman on a diet ate a spoonful of ice cream, she told herself, "I've blown my diet completely." This thought upset her so much that she gobbled down an entire quart of ice cream.

2. Overgeneralization - You see a single negative event, such as a romantic rejection or a career reversal, as a never-ending pattern of defeat by using words such as "always" or "never" when you think about it. A depressed salesman became terribly upset when he noticed bird dung on the window of his car. He told himself, "Just my luck! Birds are always crapping on my car!"

3. Mental Filter - You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively, so that your vision of reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors a beaker of water. Example: You receive many positive comments about your presentation to a group of associates at work, but one of them says something mildly critical. You obsess about his reaction for days and ignore all the positive feedback.

4. Discounting the positive - You reject positive experiences by insisting that they "don't count." If you do a good job, you may tell yourself that it wasn't good enough or that anyone could have done as well. Discounting the positives takes the joy out of life and makes you feel inadequate and unrewarded.

5. Jumping to conclusions - You interpret things negatively when there are no facts to support your conclusion.

Mind Reading : Without checking it out, you arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you.

Fortune-telling : You predict that things will turn out badly. Before a test you may tell yourself, "I'm really going to blow it. What if I flunk?" If you're depressed you may tell yourself, "I'll never get better."

6. Magnification - You exaggerate the importance of your problems and shortcomings, or you minimize the importance of your desirable qualities. This is also called the "binocular trick."

7. Emotional Reasoning - You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel terrified about going on airplanes. It must be very dangerous to fly." Or, "I feel guilty. I must be a rotten person." Or, "I feel angry. This proves that I'm being treated unfairly." Or, "I feel so inferior. This means I'm a second rate person." Or, "I feel hopeless. I must really be hopeless."

8. "Should" statements - You tell yourself that things should be the way you hoped or expected them to be. After playing a difficult piece on the piano, a gifted pianist told herself, "I shouldn't have made so many mistakes." This made her feel so disgusted that she quit practicing for several days. "Musts," "oughts" and "have tos" are similar offenders.

"Should statements" that are directed against yourself lead to guilt and frustration. Should statements that are directed against other people or the world in general, lead to anger and frustration: "He shouldn't be so stubborn and argumentative!"

Many people try to motivate themselves with shoulds and shouldn'ts, as if they were delinquents who had to be punished before they could be expected to do anything. "I shouldn't eat that doughnut." This usually doesn't work because all these shoulds and musts make you feel rebellious and you get the urge to do just the opposite. Dr. Albert Ellis has called this " must erbation." I call it the "shouldy" approach to life.

9. Labeling - Labeling is an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking. Instead of saying "I made a mistake," you attach a negative label to yourself: "I'm a loser." You might also label yourself "a fool" or "a failure" or "a jerk." Labeling is quite irrational because you are not the same as what you do. Human beings exist, but "fools," "losers" and "jerks" do not. These labels are just useless abstractions that lead to anger, anxiety, frustration and low self-esteem.

You may also label others. When someone does something that rubs you the wrong way, you may tell yourself: "He's an S.O.B." Then you feel that the problem is with that person's "character" or "essence" instead of with their thinking or behavior. You see them as totally bad. This makes you feel hostile and hopeless about improving things and leaves very little room for constructive communication.

10. Personalization and Blame - Personalization comes when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn't entirely under your control. When a woman received a note that her child was having difficulty in school, she told herself, "This shows what a bad mother I am," instead of trying to pinpoint the cause of the problem so that she could be helpful to her child. When another woman's husband beat her, she told herself, "If only I was better in bed, he wouldn't beat me." Personalization leads to guilt, shame and feelings of inadequacy.

Some people do the opposite. They blame other people or their circumstances for their problems, and they overlook ways they might be contributing to the problem: "The reason my marriage is so lousy is because my spouse is totally unreasonable." Blame usually doesn't work very well because other people will resent being scapegoated and they will just toss the blame right back in your lap. It's like the game of hot potato--no one wants to get stuck with it.

So that dang hole in my sock... .

All-or-nothing thinking: If I have a hole in my sock, I'm falling apart.

Overgeneralization: Nothing I do is ever right. I'm always a mess.

Mental filter: Instead of "I look great and have one tiny thing wrong that I can fix," I obsess about the small flaw.

Mind reading: Someone is looking at me funny. They must see the hole in my sock and think I'm falling apart.

Should statements: I should be able to avoid mistakes like this. I'm a mess.

Why should I be so focused on being a "mess"? I experienced periods of severe neglect as a child... .I was indeed a mess. I was dirty, had worn, mismatched clothing that wasn't washed. My home was a mess. I felt shame for this (what's wrong with me that there's nobody to take care of me?). I was also tormented by others for it. Now when I perceive something that indicates "I'm a mess," it triggers these associations.



  • Do you recognize any of these thought patterns?


  • How do they relate to your feelings of shame?


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« Reply #40 on: April 13, 2010, 11:29:42 PM »

At least eight of those "forms of twisted thinking" apply to my high-functioning uBPDm. 


Jenk
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« Reply #41 on: April 14, 2010, 02:11:08 PM »

I can answer yes to a lot of your questions up there, so I'm gonna copy/paste into Word, print, and take this to my appointment this week. 

Well, I'm doing the same and working on it at home. Great idea BMama!

Thank you so much for starting this thread.  I'm gonna go back and read more, and try to keep up now so I can see if it fits like I think it does.

xoxox

me too! Thanks so much for this thread. I was right in the middle of dealing with this Smiling (click to insert in post)  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #42 on: April 14, 2010, 03:19:38 PM »

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.

Thank you, B&W for expressing that so clearly.  This is probably my biggest problem having grown up in my FOO.  The idea that what I wanted wasn't a consideration in anything.  My physical needs were met.   I was fed, clothed, housed, received medical care and an education (which, I realize, was a helluva lot more that a lot of kids got) but it was all with the pervasive message that I didn't DARE express a want or desire for anything beyond that. 

It frustrates my poor husband, who, when asking something as simple as "What do you want for dinner?" will get an evasive answer out of me.  "Oh, whatever.  What are YOU tasting?"  Even with this man who I trust with my life (and more importantly, my heart) there's a part of me that is afraid to ask for what I want.  :'(
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« Reply #43 on: April 15, 2010, 12:17:35 AM »

I've grown to be very comfortable asking, even damanding in some situations what I want/expect of others. EXCEPT when it came/comes to momster/foo.

And through this thread, and a few bad dreams, I am learning that my foo is still stuck 'back' in their twisted perception momster projected onto me and they accepted rather than put the pieces to the puzzle together through their own growth.

While my marriage is not, nor has ever been perfect, I have a very loving supportive husband and I know that he also helped me grow into taking my own piece of the pie.

I wonder if there are exercises/tips to help one move on to feeling more comfortable with their needs/wants.
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« Reply #44 on: April 15, 2010, 12:38:06 AM »

At least eight of those "forms of twisted thinking" apply to my high-functioning uBPDm. 


Jenk

Well, we learned them somewhere close to home, I suspect.  Smiling (click to insert in post) The good news is that we can "untwist" that thinking. I'll paste in the companion article about how to do that below.

One thing that's over and over helped me in different aspects of recovery, and in particular in relation to toxic shame recovery, is simply taking an observer's stance and gently questioning my inner critic.

CrazyNoMore, you mentioned your (frustrating to your husband and probably to you) lack of entitlement, which is so strong that you don't even say what you want for dinner.

methinkso, you mentioned tips on feeling more comfortable with needs/wants. There are probably many, but simply noting the reluctance, naming it, questioning it, and deciding consciously sometimes to push through it can be successful.

So, elaborating on CrazyNoMore's example:

DH: What do you want for dinner?

You (hesitating, about to say "What are you tasting?". Pausing. Then, to DH: "Let me think about it for a minute."

Internally: What do I want for dinner? I don't know. (Observing. What am I feeling in my body? In my mind?) I'm uncomfortable. I want him to pick. Why? Because he may not like what I want. So? He asked. But he may get upset with me if he doesn't get what he wants. So? He loves you. But my needs aren't as important. Why not? Because I don't really matter that much. Why not? Because I'm not important. Why not? Hmmm... .

Conscious reset. My needs are important. I am important. What do I want for dinner? I want pizza. I'm going to say that. If DH wants something else, that's okay, but I am allowed to have an opinion. He did ask!

You: "Pizza sounds great. What do you think?"

Surviving the Borderline Parent has a couple of related exercises that I'll add in as well, later.

Here's the "untwisting" article.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

Ten Ways to Untwist Your Thinking

Companion article to bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=56199.0

From The Feeling Good Handbook, by David D. Burns, M.D. © 1989

Excerpt
Now that you've identified your twisted thinking, use the suggestions to untwist those thoughts.

1. Identify The Distortion: Write down your negative thoughts so you can see which of the ten cognitive distortions you're involved in. This will make it easier to think about the problem in a more positive and realistic way.

2. Examine The Evidence: Instead of assuming that your negative thought is true, examine the actual evidence for it. For example, if you feel that you never do anything right, you could list several things you have done successfully.

3. The Double-Standard Method: Instead of putting yourself down in a harsh, condemning way, talk to yourself in the same compassionate way you would talk to a friend with a similar problem.

4. The Experimental Technique: Do an experiment to test the validity of your negative thought. For example, if during an episode of panic, you become terrified that you're about to die of a heart attack, you could jog or run up and down several flights of stairs. This will prove that your heart is healthy and strong.

5. Thinking In Shades Of Grey: Although this method may sound drab, the effects can be illuminating. Instead of thinking about your problems in all-or-nothing extremes, evaluate things on a scale of 0 to 100. When things don't work out as well as you hoped, think about the experience as a partial success rather than a complete failure. See what you can learn from the situation.

6. The Survey Method: Ask people questions to find out if your thoughts and attitudes are realistic. For example, if you feel that public speaking anxiety is abnormal and shameful, ask several friends if they ever felt nervous before they gave a talk.

7. Define Terms: When you label yourself 'inferior' or 'a fool' or 'a loser,' ask, "What is the definition of 'a fool'?" You will feel better when you realize that there is no such thing as 'a fool' or 'a loser.'

8. The Semantic Method: Simply substitute language that is less colorful and emotionally loaded. This method is helpful for 'should statements.' Instead of telling yourself, "I shouldn't have made that mistake," you can say, "It would be better if I hadn't made that mistake."

9. Re-attribution: Instead of automatically assuming that you are "bad" and blaming yourself entirely for a problem, think about the many factors that may have contributed to it. Focus on solving the problem instead of using up all your energy blaming yourself and feeling guilty.

10. Cost-Benefit Analysis: List the advantages and disadvantages of a feeling (like getting angry when your plane is late), a negative thought (like "No matter how hard I try, I always screw up", or a behavior pattern (like overeating and lying around in bed when you're depressed). You can also use the cost benefit analysis to modify a self-defeating belief such as, "I must always try to be perfect."

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« Reply #45 on: April 15, 2010, 12:42:36 AM »

I"d like to elaborate on my last post. Some here know that since momster's death I have been having more processing/adjustment due to foo's reaction to her death (the never ending ride one might call it) and dealing with the mess she left behind.

This occurance, which just led to a very bad dream, happened just a year ago. Foo was called to momsters to dig into the garage. Going through things, I was cleaning out a corner. Picked up what was a ceramic container one would receive a plant in for a birth (baby'ish and darling). As I turned to decide whether to keep it or toss it (since afterall, evilsis demanded I even keep melted candles), I saw something move.

As I approached the exit of the garage, I saw it was roaches. I have always had a terrible, terrible reaction to roaches and even spoke about that here before. Anyway. I made it outside without them coming out of the container. And what I saw came to me in a bad dream a few nights ago. Those roaches were literally crawling under each other to avoid the light. It would have been amazing to see had I not been so absolutely sickened. I got the container put on the ground, commenced jumping and shaking my hands, trying to 'sling off' what I had seen, then got back into the house for bug spray. (btw. momster kept an extremely organized/clean house but hoarded in the garage, 'nother story).

So between more processing, and this thread, and the bad dreams I've come to see the significance of what has so terribly bothered me about roaches - that undescribable fear of them since I was in my early twenties. I watched these roaches crawling all over/under each other with a manic intensity that I can now recognize was/is how my family of origin crawled all over each other. Would sell their soul for a quarter.

The significance of this, to me, is the SHAME that I was in denial about for decades and have been facing these last few months. That my family is no better than roaches. I hope this can be accepted and not be rejected as bizarre. I swear to you I have even encountered pygmy rattlers, calmly backed off. Scorpions, spiders and lizards. NOTHING would send that shiver of strong emotions down my spine like roaches. Roaches have a stigma of dirt, nasty, horrible, etc. Things in my parents/foo I denied. Maybe I could not admit this because I felt ashamed from being one of them.

The more we deny shame, the more powerful it becomes.
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« Reply #46 on: April 15, 2010, 12:58:15 AM »

Thanks for these additions, B&W. I'd like to address the issue of learning to get our needs met. The example of a dinner request is a good one and can show members that when they are in a safe place (away from the environment of the disordered parent), it can be very easy to state our wants and accept the intent of love it is being given in.

Compromise is possible outside the control of the pd'd parent.

I've been noticing a lot lately how soft spoken people are in the public arena vs 'momster's arena' and how easily, and nonquestioningly the other party complies to a request. I was in a gov building today with a complete trainwreck of paperwork that was needed by nobody but myself. The gentlemen spent three hours making phone calls to a federal agency, faxing papers, etc. I was feeling pretty hopeless for a couple of those hours until I heard him gently tell the other 'voice' on the phone that he'd really like to get it cleared up today. By then I was just about hopeless, but he persevered and I got the paper I needed.

The world is so much better than our past. I will order any pizza you would like (smile)
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« Reply #47 on: April 15, 2010, 03:11:31 PM »

The world is so much better than our past. I will order any pizza you would like (smile)

Beautifully said!
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« Reply #48 on: April 16, 2010, 11:27:24 AM »

           
Excerpt
Maybe I could not admit this because I felt ashamed from being one of them.

The more we deny shame, the more powerful it becomes.

This as well. Very important realization, methinkso. Thank you.

I might think the cockroach image was bizarre if I didn't know exactly where you're coming from, but I do! Bradshaw even has a section in his book about how our shame can take the form of obsessive/compulsive thoughts and images that come into our consciousness in an intrusive way.

methinkso, you bring up the point of feeling shame "for being one of them." The reader might say, "You had no control over the family you were born into! It's not your fault!" And that's true, but I also know it's not enough.  Smiling (click to insert in post) I just added a new book review, 8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery. The author of that book, Babette Rothschild,  talks about shame and trauma. She describes how most trauma survivors blame themselves for something, on some level, no matter how much in reality the survivor is truly not to blame. (And if the survivor's actions did contribute in some ways, even inadvertently, that fact will often become obsessive for the survivor and make it difficult to move on.) It seems to be human nature to ask, What did I do to deserve this? Why did I do X? Why didn't I do Y? Self-forgiveness is usually part of the process of resolving our shame. Rothschild notes:

Excerpt
One fact of trauma is that it is out of your control. Everyone who has suffered trauma has issues about control because trauma does not happen when you have it--when you can stop the car, fend off the attacker, defuse th bomb, and so on. If you are recovering from trauma, you also were unable to stop whatever it was that happened. There may be one reason you could not prevent your trauma or there might be several. Here are some (but not all) possibilities:



  • You were not old, big, or strong enough, or you were outnumbered.


  • You did not have the help you needed.


  • Someone made a mistake.


  • It was an unpreventable act of nature.


  • There was no alert or warning.


  • You did not have the legal rights necessary.


  • You were in the wrong place at the wrong time.


  • You were lied to, threatened, or coerced.


  • You did not have adequate or correct information or training.


  • You froze, dissociated, or "went dead."



If you've not thought about your experiences in this way, consider making a list of the ways you did not have control over what happened to you. When you feel shame for things over which you have identified you had no or little control, remind yourself of this, "I had little or no control over X because... ."

An example from my life is the shame I have felt over the physical state of our home. To help me resolve this shame, I have identified the many, many ways I had no control over this situation as a small child. This list serves as a reminder to me and helps me to shape my internal narrative in a way that relieves the shame feelings.

All of this is to say that self-forgiveness is another strategy to add to our recovery strategies list.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

US: How can we forgive ourselves?

Much has been written about forgiving the people who have hurt us or who are causing us pain.  But there is very little written about forgiving ourselves.   This workshop is not about forgiving our abusers or those who didn’t protect us but about forgiving ourselves.  It’s about learning to silence that voice that berates us inside our own heads.  

https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=113483.0
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« Reply #49 on: April 16, 2010, 01:05:36 PM »

B&W, I copied out your workshop items, and answered the questions, then sent this by email to my T ahead of my appointment yesterday.  He said it was helpful, and to keep sending him things that I find useful... .that makes best use of our limited appointment time each week.  50 minutes is not nearly enough time, is it?   Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)

He is still concentrating on the ADHD part of my work, and I may end up taking some sort of meds.  He thinks if he can reduce some of my anxiety due to that, my behavioral type T will go a lot better.  I'm still thinking.  Although, he's not setting aside that I have these problems because of nature AND nuture (or lack thereof).

Thank you for all of this.  It's a lot to think about, but couldn't have been more timely. 
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« Reply #50 on: April 17, 2010, 10:10:07 AM »

BMama, I'm so glad this has been helpful. It must be strange to be coping with the idea of adult ADHD.   And no, 50 minutes is not enough. Sometimes I think we need to set up a camp bed in our therapists' offices for a bit, until we get all this stuff worked out.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

This workshop's been running for a while here on the Coping and Healing Board, so before I move it over to the workshop board, I want to be sure we have a good summary of recovery strategies. I'll also add in a few more exercises on changing your thinking.

Recovery Strategies for Toxic Shame


1. Examining and questioning specific negative core beliefs.

See the twisted thinking articles and other exercises in this workshop.

2. Developing healthy lifestyle patterns.

Sounds like a good topic for another workshop! I know many here have described the benefits of exercise, good sleep routines, exposure to nature and art, and in general, regular, self-nourishing routines that build and sustain our sense of worth, order, and beauty. Such habits help to heal from the chaos and inconsistency of our earlier lives.

3. Spending time with and learning from (mirroring) healthy people.

We have a workshop on the characteristics of healthy relationships:

The Characteristics of Healthy Relationships

Relationships are learned behaviors. Without good models in our families, we have to learn elsewhere what to strive for. This article describes the key features of healthy partner relationships, such as respect, trust and support, and honesty and accountability. Most of these characteristics apply to all close relationships, including those with parents, siblings, in-laws, and children. Learn more:

https://bpdfamily.com/tools/articles15.htm

And one on red flags in relationships:

Red Flags in Relationships

Trauma survivors are often described as having "broken pickers," meaning the self-protective instincts most adults have are skewed or missing for those who experienced trauma early in life. Learn how to identify "red flags" early on in relationships and teach yourself to be a better "picker" when you invite new people into your life.

https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=112466.0

4. Mindfulness practice

This can start with something as simple as taking an observer's stance on your own feelings, which is a very powerful tool. We also have workshops on mindfulness:

TOOLS: DBT for non borderlines - mindfulness

Mindfulness is a tool that gives us breathing room from our reactions and emotions. It builds strength and helps us cope. Learn more:

https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=64749.10

TOOLS: Practicing mindfulness - how to do it

Mindfulness has tremendous benefits to our physical and mental health. It clears our minds and leaves us refreshed and calmer--mental space many of us desperately need given the chaos and emotional dysregulation that characterize the BPD relationships in our lives. This workshop provides simple explanations, exercises, and strategies for getting started with practicing mindfulness.

https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=111031.0

5. Supportive therapy with inner child work

Perhaps another needed workshop. The Survivors' Guide in the right panel of Coping with Parents, Relatives, or In-Laws with BPD includes inner child work. See especially step 7.

6. Fostering positive entitlement

Workshop referenced above.

7. EMDR/trauma recovery

TOOLS: EMDR for Non Borderlines

EMDR is a popular form of therapy for trauma recovery. Learn more about the method, some debates around how it works, and the results some members have experienced.

https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=65302.0

8. Practicing self-forgiveness

Workshop referenced above.
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« Reply #51 on: April 17, 2010, 10:19:20 AM »

From Surviving the Borderline Parent:

Excerpt
STOP AND THINK: Challenge the Critic


Consider which of the cognitive distortions [from the twisted thinking article above] your inner critic might use to maintain the status quo. For each one, write a recent example of the critic at work. For instance, if your son chose to watch TV instead of doing his homework first, you might have thought or said, "Michael never does his homework when he's supposed to," when really there have only been a couple of times when he hasn't.

Now challenge the distortion and rewrite the statement. You can do this by asking yourself if it's really true. Are there exceptions? Might there be another way to look at the issue? Could you have made an incorrect assumption? Using the previous example, you might instead think or say, "Michael usually does his homework before he turns on the TV. I wonder if something is bothering him... .Maybe he's tired and needs to relax first."

Develop your own list of responses to the critic, affirmations that you can repeat whenever you catch yourself in a negative pattern of thinking. Here are a few examples to prompt your list:



  • I don't always do anything; there are exceptions.


  • I don't never do or not do anything; there are exceptions.


  • It's not fair to make assumptions; I need to find out the facts first.


  • Everyone makes an isolated mistake or two.


  • Come to think of it, I could just as easily choose to see the glass half full instead of half empty.


  • Because I fel a certain way about something doesn't make it absolutely true. Feeling and being are two different things.


  • It's not always about me. People have their own reasons for doing what they do--I don't have to take it personally all the time.


  • It's not the end of the world. I'll find a solution.



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« Reply #52 on: April 17, 2010, 12:18:55 PM »

Thanks so much, Black&White, for starting this thread!  There's so much material here that it's hard to know where to start, but you really hit on something for me in the note about "broken pickers," because it's been my main problem all my life.  Lack of discernment about what/who to choose and what/who not to.  By no means is it my only problem, but it's such a big issue in my life and it keeps blossoming (yuck) out into more areas and more complications that basically started with the FOO but don't end there. So I have pulled down and PDF'd that thread you referenced.

And you are mentioning, in your post above, the recovery methods, and one of them is DBT, which thrills me because I've been employing DBT skills very intensively for the past couple years.  It works wonderfully well for me and it's a joy to see it mentioned so favorably in this forum!

I can't post to a workshop yet (not enough posts) but you've surely given me a lot to do in the meantime, especially when combined with the lessons on the sideboards-- "Safety First," for starters.  I've already gotten some insights from that article about why any kind of recovery has been so many years delayed for me, when I've been trying so hard  for so long.   But that's another topic    Smiling (click to insert in post)

Thanks again,

xoxo   s a



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« Reply #53 on: April 18, 2010, 12:24:06 AM »

Thanks for so much more info/feedback, B&W.

I am sort of backing off the roach/shame thing (Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)) since two nights ago I had a dream (a very bad dream) where I had evilsis on the ground punching her stomach and telling her to die, die , die. And her fat belly seemed like the undercarriage (not kidding) of a roach.

I know through past T that sometimes we can take on more than we can handle all at once.

I very much hope this workshop continues on. It's such a very worthwhile topic.

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« Reply #54 on: April 18, 2010, 07:29:07 AM »

I read that Challenge the Critic section a couple of times.  I find myself doing the always and nevers, although, I'm starting to notice it in others so I must be cluing in finally.   Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)

There have been a couple of threads of Positive Affirmations for Survivors, but they always seem to get cluttered with reasons and backstories.  Someone suggested some months ago about having a thread that was JUST like the whole "I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!" lists.  I have an email that a cousin sent to me, as I was in the throes of heading into my last NC with my mother.  He told me that he supported me, he loved me and his parents have always loved me... .that I am a good mother and wife, and person despite all of this.  Every time I have a down day, I open that up and read it.  I think a thread here where we are only allowed to put positive affirmations would be awesome for folks who don't have a good support system outside of this board.

I agree that the healthy lifestyle patterns is an important part.  It goes with the one workshop we had about positive entitlement, but more parallel than inside.  I often have a hard time appreciating quiet time, the finer things, eccentricities maybe they seem like to me.  They really are important to have as part of a routine.  It would be a good thing to explore further.

I still have a terrible time grasping mindfulness.  Maybe someday I'll read about it and other's people's experiences with discovering and appying it, and it will stick.  I don't know why it's not sinking in... .

Thanks again, B&W.

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« Reply #55 on: July 30, 2010, 04:02:45 AM »

i've read alot here about people being shamed with abandonment and violence,which i can relate to both.  but i feel shamed for merely having any needs as a child.  like it was a huge embarrassment for even the concept of having any needs.  its only recently that i'm untwisting my conditioned thinking.  how is it shameful to have natural needs?  how is it shameful to be vulnerable?  it shows me the projecting that my parents acted out on me.  because seeing the vulnerability and needs of children to me is beautiful.  it shows me that they are growing and learning as emotional people. it shows me the extent to which my parents were mentally and emotionally sick.

the fact that they didn't fulfill my natural needs as a child is a big wound to heal.  they said they were too young to have children and made a dozen excuses.  but i feel that they continue to behave the same putting their needs about their daughters, so it can't be about age.  seeking emotional counseling and understanding from their daughters.  every day they are still here, living on the same planet they refuse to be nice or good parents, and flip the roles.  its like a continual rejection and shaming.  that seems to be a continuing wound that i hope to find peace with.

now as an adult, i still have needs.  i doubt i'll ever stop the need to have a compassionate parent who i can turn to and who i feel understands and accepts me, and i don't see that as unhealthy or wrong.  i think its a natural need in every human being to feel safe, understood and loved by their parents. so now i have to untwist their sick conditioning and learn to fill my life with good, compassionate people, not only as a good thing in my life but to fill the need that they never did or continue to do.

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« Reply #56 on: September 20, 2010, 05:04:02 PM »

Good idea.  I think I understand this more as I deal with my issues, and work even with my hubby on our co-counseling now.  Needs... .I think I've always felt that it was a positive trait to be a self-sacrificing martyr.  Do whatever mother wants because if you don't... .leads to letting your spouse, kids, friends, and other family steam roll you.  Leads to major burnout... .

Thanks for bringing this back up again.
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« Reply #57 on: September 20, 2010, 07:24:17 PM »

I've got so much shame over so much stuff... .and not always from childhood things or FOO things, but how I've lived my life as an adult.  The Safety First article mentioned "stopgap measures" and I'm paying the price now for the stopgap measures I've been slapping onto each crisis for the past several years.  Somewhere along the way, and not all that long ago, I just gave up.  I don't know if it was physical, just being more susceptible to illness and aging, I think that's part of it for sure, but I have just gotten mentally and emotionally drained by the problems in my life and have just gone onto dead center.  It's probably nobody's fault but my own, but how can you work out an effective solution when you don't have all the information of the problem, and when people keep slapping you around and making threats?  My main objective for most of my adult life was how to get straight with my parents, to get their approval and stop all the threats and the violence.  As I've posted many times before, I didn't realize until very recently that this was a complete waste of time.  What's most upsetting of all, is how a huge majority of my relationships have echoed the relationship with the parents.  I've never grown out of being the punching bag, fall guy, and scapegoat.  My frantic attempts to grow out of/escape from/educate myself out of... .these roles have all failed.  Never in all my adult life, have I been one to do harm to others, to threaten them or do sly little physical things to them that reveal inner maliciousness, or be verbally abusive.  Firstly, I'm too much of a coward and I know it;  and secondly, to do such up-front angry things is a violation of my religious faith, and whenever I feel that I may have been offensive to someone, this old girl gets herself off to the sacrament of confession.  But the fury that I feel and that I have to fight to keep from taking out on myself, and that I might actually take out on somebody else, scares me.

Thanks for putting up with all this.  Sometimes it all gets me down and I just have to try to talk about it.  I will keep on doing my best to implement the recovery material here, and to keep doing the best I can as each day comes along.

xoxo   s a



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« Reply #58 on: October 05, 2010, 06:20:47 PM »

Wow.  This is my internal life... .toxic shame.  I am all about toxic shame.  It is so interesting to have a name for what goes on inside me... .this is alot of digest.  Thank you for this posting  xoxox
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« Reply #59 on: October 05, 2010, 06:25:59 PM »

i feel shamed for merely having any needs as a child.  like it was a huge embarrassment for even the concept of having any needs. 

I can very much relate to this.  I felt shame for feeling shame, shame for needing love, shame for needing people in my life, shame for needing food or shelter, shame for needing help, shame for making any mistake no matter how small, shame for feeling any emotion, shame for... .breathing.  I always said my mom parented with shame, and now I see how that actually affected me. 
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