A friend posts excellent stuff on line for CPTSD. One of the topics that I struggle with is toxic shame. https://blogs.psychcentral.com/psychology-self/2019/01/toxic-chronic-shame/ Hard thing is when I do something wrong there is regular shame which is Jiminy Cricket reminding me what I need to do to correct my poor choices. If I hurt someone I feel the pain of my behavior which is there to motivate me to apologize. Toxic shame you do nothing wrong or someone else does something wrong and you apologize for it like you did it. The article covers the different areas impacted by toxic shame. Frustrating thing to me the article gives a great description but is fairly vague on how to resolve the feelings. I remember my teenagers scolding me for apologizing all the time….you guessed I said, “I’m sorry.”
My counselor actually tried to work with me on this area. He even gave me a book on it that I handed back after the first few pages. There are two types of shame but they do not have different names. The context was so confusing to me. I wanted a different word for one of them. Shame is a heavy burden.
Shame is also transferred to victims by their abusers. I experienced that conditioning with the statements slammed at me, “You made me angry,” “you are oversensitive,” “that really didn’t hurt,” and other variations of shifting the abusers blame to me. Yea, and it still keeps me up at night. I do make mistakes because I am human. It is in the handbook of being human that you will mess up sometimes. It is like it is hard wired into our genetic make up. But these feelings are so confusing for me.
One step that my first counselor taught me was to analyze who is responsible for a behavior. Shockingly not everything is my fault. I learned that many times I would be just sitting there and the other person would be furious and I would feel guilty about their behavior…..back up further… I remember when I was 5 years old being told to take care of my mother and make sure she had a good day. That is a heavy burden to lay on a 5 year old. I felt it was my fault if my mother yelled, was frustrated or didn’t have a “good day” by some random indicator that I had zero control over. Great, I know how it happened but I’m still at a loss on how to fix what I feel.
Sorry I don’t have a solution for this twist of thought. I am a work in progress. I use prayer and my faith in Christ and those help some. However, there are still plenty of times I am taking on the responsibility of someone else’s behavior, just like I was trained to do. Ugh.
Some problems I feel like a little inch worm trying to struggle forward. Not much progress.
2 thoughts on “Toxic Shame”
I feel like this too Ruth! I struggle a lot with shame, and toxic shame, I think all survivors of abuse do though.
I think you are right. Thanks.