Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Shame Kills

Last week I posted a link to Facebook with this quote:
And so when my bulimia pops up, I never feel mad at myself. NEVER. Shame takes us closer to that edge than any single binge will. NO. Life is hard and I’m doing the best I can. So I just take inventory and love myself something FIERCE and then start over. Every single moment I am someone brand new.
 I almost didn't want to share it because it felt vulnerable and a little too open, but at the same time I knew that I needed to.

In the days after I posted this, I not only had many questions, but I also had countless messages of encouragement, and even more messages that said "me too". So many people messaged me with their own personal struggles with eating disorders or other issues. A few shared these struggles for the first time. Shame began to retreat.

I love how Brene Brown describes shame because it rings so true to my experience of it:
Shame is an intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging
Shame kills. I have no doubt about that. Shame is the voice that tells us it's not worth fighting for our life. Shame tells us not only that we're not loved, but that we're unlovable and broken. Shame is in the fingers down our throats or the bottle to our lips or the knife to our skin. Shame holds us captive in the deepest, darkest hole imaginable.

But shame has an antidote. Empathy. Shame mixed with empathy can never survive.

Shame thrives in secrecy and silence. It slowly wraps its fingers around our throats, squeezing tightly so our voices can no longer be heard. Shame points fingers and yells abuse. And the voice that is yelling at us if often our own.

So maybe vulnerability is not just allowing my voice and my story to be known. Maybe it's also creating a space for more voices to be heard, for more empathy to flow. Maybe our voices and our stories can not only loosen the hold of shames tight grasp around our throats and hearts, but maybe it can help loosen that hold for other people too. If empathy comes through vulnerability, stories, and honesty, then that is what I will strive to do. If my voice will help others (and myself) climb out of that pit of shame, then the vulnerability is absolutely worth it.

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