Overcoming Our Shame And Growing From It

May 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog

I was just reading the short piece on the Huffington Post of Laura Logan’s rape.  Laura is the CBS reporter who was raped by a mob during the Egyptian upheaval.

In the post I became stuck in the word shame.  As a sexual assault victim I remembered my own shame.  I’m sure there are many psychological reasons why women and men feel shame attached to their attacks, but I am brought to think about a particular one – shame of showing ourselves less than perfect.

We feel shame if we are raped, if we look physically different from an accident, if we are fired from a job, and if we are dumped from a relationship.  The reason – to most of us – why any of this has taken place is secondary to the shame we feel.  We become afraid we’ll show ourselves to be less than in the eyes of others.

What a conundrum we have put ourselves in.  Life is full of situations that will make us confront our inadequacies, our sense of pride and entitlement.  Growth depends on our ability to be humble when we have to face our frailties.  Juxtaposed to that is our compulsive need to present ourselves to others as being as perfect as possible.  The result of this push and pull is our own suffering.

We hurt because each and every time something we consider demeaning happens we shame ourselves instead of realizing life is full of difficult situations and we forget that how we navigate through them shows what kind of life and person we are choosing to be.

Hiding in shame, ignoring the situation, blaming ourselves or others are all coping mechanisms that usually leave us stuck.  Embracing the difficulty – regardless how hard it is – allows us to properly process the misfortune and move on.

When I was sexually assaulted I felt shame when recounting the event to the two detectives.  I also searched through every step that led me to my assault for my own culpability.  It took me a long time to understand I was not at fault and there was no shame in being a victim of a crime.  It didn’t make me less than my former self.  It made me someone who had a very difficult situation to process.

We are all trying to figure out the best way to be and live.  It is a balancing act that involves great compassion for ourselves and others.  Be good to yourself and remember as you struggle so does every other person in this planet.

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