My Shame

You, are not my shame.

My fear of you is my shame.

My fear that if this could happen to you, it could happen to me.  And I would not be as strong as you have been, in surviving.  In living.  In existing.  I’m ashamed of my fear.

My fear is that I don’t know what to do so I don’t seek, I don’t push, I just…wait.   My shame, is that this is my excuse.

My shame is that I respond to my fear more than to your need.

My shame is that I don’t know what to do so I don’t do.

My shame is in unrealistic guilt.  But the guilt is there, unrealistic as it should be, it exists.

My shame is my disgrace.

You, are not my shame.

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41 thoughts on “My Shame

  1. I think everyone feels this way. Therefore you have nothing to be ashamed of.

  2. This IS a tough one. We all have it, I’m sure. ❤ ❤ ❤

  3. Paul says:

    Great piece Colleen. I think Marissa and LCTC are correct: we all feel this way in our relationships to a greater or lesser extent. – it seems to be a part of our assessment/decision making process. The shame comes because you think it is wrong to feel this fear. I would propose to you that this fear is right and good and hence not shameful. Fear is just an emotional acknowledgement that the other or what they are experiencing could harm or damage or, in the extreme, kill you. I gather from your previous posts that your profession is in the “helping” category: social work, psychology, facilitating, etc. In those fields empathy is critical and those you are helping without a doubt feel that same fear about themselves and their situation or you wouldn’t be a part of their lives. So, if the fear is normal – they feel it, you feel it – then the question becomes what action is appropriate. There are, without a doubt, times when no action is right – even though you feel you should be doing something , you actually are doing something – nothing (which surprisingly enough is far more often what should be done) by choice. Anytime I have been involved with others I find this is quite often an important option – allow others to figure it out and/or decide what is right for them after giving them the options. So, we see that doing nothing is in fact doing something and is often not shameful at all.

    Whether you will make the right decision of when to act and when to wait, you obviously have a history of interactions and you can look back and see with hind sight how you did and how the situations turned out. My guess is that you have a finely honed sense of timing acquired from years of doing what you do. For sure we all F**k up occasionally, but we use those as learning experiences and move on. I once had a boss – a Billionaire actually (sounds impressive,eh? he was the only rich person I knew)- who used to say that if you are not making mistakes you are not trying hard enough , but that making the same mistake twice was not acceptable. That is how we learn. My point being that when you look back to assess how you have done in choosing the time to act, do NOT focus on your mistakes, unless you have a habit of repeating them.

    When you have pondered your history of acting in the face of fear, I am sure you will find that you are pleased with what you have done in the past (in general – remember don’t focus on failure, rather look at the big picture). That said, then it is apparent that fear is an important part of decision making and that acting appropriately in the face of fear is what determines whether the outcome is positive or as best as can be achieved. Or as I am wont to say: Those who are fearless are fools.

    • Paul, your response is gratefully being absorbed. You always give me such amazing feedback, I feel quite lack luster in my response to you. I’m sitting here, in my car before work, reading this and learning. I’m nodding my head, I’m immediately flashing back to scenarios/memories. And understand what you’re saying.

      You are correct, I am in the ‘helping’ field. I investigate allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly. And what you say reflects on my work as well.

      For all that I know, it seems I manage to lose ‘some’ of the ability to act with that knowledge, when it comes to certain other aspects of life. I guess that’s why doctors shouldn’t treat themselves. 😉

      Thank you. Thank you.

      • Paul says:

        Thank you so much for the thoughtful compliment Colleen. i know exactly what you mean. You know I think most people feel the same as you. When I managed truck drivers I had a driver come to me once with a personal problem . His wife wanted to travel on their vacation and he wanted to stay home. I asked him why and he confessed that it scared him to go to unknown and new places. I pointed out that he did that for a living and did it well. He told me that was because he had a framework to work from at work – what to do in each possible case or occurrence. He felt secure, even though he faced new roads, customers, even provinces daily. So, I told him that it was an easy solution – just establish a framework for travelling on vacation – say, we will drive no more than 300 miles in a day, we will always stay at Holiday Inns with a pool, we will stop for lunch after 1 pm and for supper after 6 pm to avoid crowds, we will travel back roads and only use interstates when there is no other choice, etc. This set a pace and goals he felt comfortable with and his vacation went well. It is easy to set frameworks for personal decision making, most don’t bother and that sometimes leads to freezing up.

        Best of luck. 🙂

  4. ksbeth says:

    yes, i think many of us carry the heavy burden of shame upon our shoulders and in our hearts. the trick is to learn how to let that load go and move on lighter without it.

  5. As everyone is saying,it is how we all feel. Fearful, not knowing what to do, and tragically sad. There is no sense in it. None whatsoever.

  6. reocochran says:

    There will be inner fears but we need to try and move towards acceptance. When we reach out even towards the ones we fear, this may help melt the fear away. I like when prisoners ptay for their captors, some stories exist of better treatment or being released. I may be off subject, Colleen. Just the direction my mind went. . .

    • I like this direction your thoughts went Robin. I really do. Reaching out to what I’m scared of….. I even relate to the prisoners praying for their captors. That speaks volumes. And directly to me.

  7. Welcome to the human condition. Don’t know any of us out here that don’t feel any of the emotions that go along with being human. You are refreshing in exploring and sharing yours where some are not so much in touch with theirs. It helps us see, we are all human. I helps my heart embrace more compassion and acceptance. Thank you.

    • Thank you Paulette. Sometimes I process these thoughts thinking ‘no one’ else will get it. I’ve learned (much through this blog) that when I doubt, when I fear, when I carry a burden, I am more likely understood as human than when I am feeling invincible.

      As I write that….it makes sense. We are not invincible. Hence the connection to others when what I feel is more ‘normal’.

  8. mewhoami says:

    So very well said. I’ve been here way too many times. Ashamed by the fact that I need to do something, but don’t know what, so I do nothing at all. Ashamed by the fact that I fear the unknown, so go out of way to avoid it. Ashamed by the fact that I know who I need to be, who I already am on the inside, but for whatever reason keep that “me” hidden within. But, with that said – we are all a work in progress. As long as we’re working toward self-improvement, we’re on the right path. No one is perfect. All we can do is strive to be our best and learn (and apply) as we go.

  9. “My shame is in unrealistic guilt.” I do not disagree it presents, sometimes more significantly than at other times. Yes, it exists. And yes, we can choose to not dwell on or allow shame to manifest in our being. My belief is that it warrants little or no attention, Yet it can serve to heighten our awareness of where and how we spend our time and energy and how we allow it to affect us. As a HSP I am all too aware of how stigma and emotions affect our well-being. It is with and through this awareness that I choose, intentionally, to focus on the positives that make me who I am. And who I love.

    This is a seriously, thought-provoking post. Colleen. One worthy of our reflection and potentially, our action.

    • Thank you Eric.

      What is an “HSP?”

      I like choice. And I do see, believe, there is choice in this. ANd that acknowledging it can lead to understanding myself and help with direction. But sometimes, it just slaps me with the reality of things. Things I have no control over, etc. And the sometimes sadness of knowing I can’t control/fix/repair/help.

      Thank you for more ways to look at this and process it.

  10. Gibber says:

    Hope everything’s okay.

  11. Wonderful, open piece Colleen. You seem to hit the area where we all live xx

  12. Very open and honest, and comforting in an odd way as well.

  13. I am too, Colleen. It’s okay though, because I think of how it transforms into something greater than us, greater than our fear or shame of it. Pushing us to serve in spite of that fear. It is healthy, a part of our humanity.

    • To serve, in spite of our fear. That says a lot. I sometimes can’t help but wonder though….how much more I woulda/coulda/shoulda if fear had not had a grip on me. But then I flip it around and sometimes think fear protects us as well.

      Humanity. It’s so amazingly complex isn’t it?

  14. jmgoyder says:

    I get this so much, Colleen. I am so miserable atm about having argued with various people lately – argh!

    • Arguments can sometimes clear the air. Maybe? I don’t like that your miserable about this. I hope it’s better by the time I have written this. And don’t forget, it takes 2 to argue. So you don’t have to carry all of that misery. Divide it by 2. Then shatter your half with a sledge hammer. 😉

  15. reocochran says:

    We do tend to hold back from people. I also feel weighed down, Colleen. Although your burdens and fears may be different, we may share common bonds. Hugs, Robin

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