Here’s what I wrote this morning:
When shame is buried, it poisons the soil; soil that is the primary source of nutrients for growth. When shame flourishes above ground, the shifting branches and foliage obscure one’s vision, creating a kaleidoscope of uncertainty and fear. When shame is exhumed and exposed, as I have been doing, its fumes are released into the environment. The air is tainted; when inhaled, the toxicity leads to more feelings of shame. Given time, this nasty contagion disperses, floating away and losing its ability to harm. A fresh breeze helps to diffuse it.
Here’s what I read this afternoon in the book Shame, The Power of Caring, by Gershen Kaufman Ph.D. This is from the introduction, written by Silvan S. Tompkins for the 1980 edition. Would that I had read this sooner…
“In order to understand shame, one must have experienced deep shame and have confronted it sufficiently to have assimilated it personally, and pursued it cognitively wherever it led, and finally, to have had the courage to risk further shame by exposing oneself in writing.”
But would knowing the risks of re-shaming myself have stopped me? I hope not. De-constructing shame is the work that I’ve been approaching (and avoiding) all my life. I am out of the Slough and back to work.