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Posts Tagged ‘feeling shame’

I learned a lot last week by watching my friend deal with rejection without experiencing shame. That was a new experience for me, so I thought I would blog about it.

My friend had to have outpatient surgery last week, and I was scheduled to take her to the surgery, wait with her, take her home, and look after her until her mother got home from work. The day before the surgery was scheduled, my kid got sick. By the night before, he was congested and coughing – just a cold, but too sick to go to camp the next day.

I worked out childcare, getting a friend to babysit during the surgery and then a relative to transport my son to my friend’s house so I could tend to both of them. However, my friend didn’t want to “inconvenience” so many people and asked her relatives if any of them could help out instead. That kicked off WWIII. You would have thought she was asking for a $100,000 loan by their reaction. She said “never mind,” and we put my plan into motion, which went just fine.

I have been in similar situations too many times to count – so many times that I expect the tiniest of family favors to have to be repaid with a major organ. So, I very rarely ask family for anything. I do it myself, ask a friend, or do without. My friend is the same way, which is why I was so surprised that her reaction was very different from what mine would have been.

My friend was understandably angry and hurt by her family’s reaction. However, at no point did she seem to feel shame over it, which really surprised me. When I am in that position, I feel shame. I feel like I am not worthy of being taken care of and that there is something fundamentally wrong with me that makes my own family members react like that. Even though I know that they are being self-centered and unreasonable, I still believe that I would be treated differently if I wasn’t so fundamentally unlovable.

It was eye-opening to me to watch another person react to the same situation in a different way. Don’t get me wrong – she was hurt and angry: she just didn’t turn that hurt and anger inward. I want to learn how to do that!

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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A huge part of healing for me has been learning to stop letting other people’s opinions of me drive how I feel about myself. I spent most of my life trying unsuccessfully to please those around me. In my opinion, dissociative identity disorder (DID) is the most extreme form of the “people pleaser” because you actually “split” yourself and create alter parts to please the different people in your life.

I had a huge epiphany during the Beth Moore study I attended over the summer about stopping trying to please everyone else. Most people have an agenda, whether well-meaning or otherwise, and they are going to express their approval or disapproval depending upon how my actions align with their agendas. Even friends who I know have my best interest at heart will sometimes have very strong opinions about my choices that conflict with the direction I want or need to take. At the end of the day, I am the one who must live in my own skin, so my choices need to work for me. How anyone else feels about those choices is irrelevant as long as what I am doing brings them no harm.

When I am having an off day, I can still be vulnerable to the opinions of others. The problem is that nobody’s opinion seem to match up. Some people think I am not really working unless I have a full-time job. Other people think that I am not a good enough mother because I work part-time time. Because I don’t have a full-time job, I should keep an immaculate house. Because I work part-time, I am not giving enough to my child. I travel too much. I don’t travel enough. I am too active in volunteer activities. I am not active enough.

Even the fact that I blog raises opposing opinions. I must not work hard because I have time to blog. If I have time to blog, then I should have a FaceBook page. (I appear to be one of the last holdouts in creating a FaceBook page!) I should write more because I am talented. I shouldn’t waste so much time writing because it doesn’t pay enough.

All of these opinions overlook one crucial element – ME!! I don’t blog because I am bored or need money. (I actually donate all proceeds from this blog to Isurvive, and I make very little revenue off my professional blog.) I blog because I feel called to do so. I feel passionate about taking the lemons that life threw my way (the child abuse), making lemonade (healing), and sharing that lemonade with as many child abuse survivors as possible. I write my professional blog because I want to offer insights into the mind of the abused child to those who are parenting traumatized children out of foster care. None of anyone else’s opinions on my reasons for blogging matter because they are completely off base.

I just chose blogging as one example, but pretty much every area of my life will bring about differing opinions based upon who I ask (so I no longer ask!). The bottom line is that **I** am the one who must live with whatever choices that I make. Therefore, the only opinion that matters is my own.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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