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Shame/justice

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Maia posted 4/5/2019 10:39 AM

Hello lovelies.

thought I'd give you some of my thoughts on shame.

Shame is like a wave of death. It will keep you stuck and focused on yourself. It will leave you writhing, breathless. Wanting to cower and hide. it will destroy you. It is toxic. Shame is awful.

but we deserve it. we deserve it!! That's the thought that holds you in is grip. You can rationalize and justify and bargain and deny and it still comes crashing through. It does.

A man from Scotland who lived a century ago helped me deal with it. that and a little science.

First the science. Shame can actually be caused by brain chemistry. Look up 'Shame brain chemistry' one thing i did was take st Johns wort with 5-htp to help me battle the chemistry and set me on more stable ground. the herbal mix wasn't expensive or dangerous and i found relief after about a month of consistent use. It takes a while to build up in your bloodstream. google for dosage for your body or talk to a doctor or naturopath.

the second thing was the man from scotland. His name is George Macdonald. he wrote a piece on justice wherein he talked about this idea of paying the price. i'm going to put what he said in my own words.

if someone steals from you, and they are captured, indicted and go to court. they are found guilty and must repay you. Has justice been done???

Has it?

what if it was a friend?

this adds the layer of betrayal.

JUSTICE is not simply the idea of paying the price. No. justice is setting things right. Which would you rather? that you be paid by someone forced to repay you, someone who will likely go out an do the same thing to another?

or would you rather this person really hate what they did, vow to change, know what they did was wrong and repay you? in the case of the friend, would you rather that person not only apologize but work to restore the friendship and seek to mend his ways in a manner obvious to any who knows him????

which version is justice???? which would you rather? Justice should always include restoration, not revenge.

See shame just wants you to paypaypay, preferably with a little death every day. it leads to death. Remorse leads you to change (and i think it leads you to God)

Two types of sorrow. one leads to death, one leads to real change. Your husband or wife would much rather you ACTUALLY LOVE THEM than that you die. really. because there's no payment big enough. the death you feel??? thats what you've done to them. it isn't even big enough a price to pay not really. there's no way to pay for the mutilation of a human soul. is there??

your real change is justice. it sets things right as much as possible. No you can't undo what you did. but you can unmake what you were. be a new person. one of the most hopeful things god spoke to me was that a person's capacity for good was directly inversely proportional to their capacity for evil. thats why the murderer moses could lead multitudes out of bondage. why augustine the man whore could help generations learn to walk in the light and why my own wretched state could be so completely healed.

it's a choice to be made, in spite of your feelings. your feelings are lies. brain chemistry. What feels true is not what is true. the truth is you can turn around and any pain you caused used for good. i believe its completely undone, like the matrix ...someday all of it is gone, leaving only you and your eternal heart, mended .

theres a type of japanese pottery i love. it is shattered then mended with gold. the understanding is that this object is more beautiful after mending than it was before it shattered. it's a metaphor for you. its called kintsugi. look it up.

<3

don't believe you cannot change. it is dark in this moment but a seed must be planted to bloom. yours is the darkness of one who will grow, if you choose it. choose it daily. the light will come.

Edited; clarity/typos

[This message edited by Maia at 11:11 AM, April 5th (Friday)]

Maia posted 4/5/2019 10:46 AM

one other thought.

beauty comforts the soul. when shame hits, look at beautiful things. i know it sounds crazy but it is true, thats why we bring flowers to hospital patients. anything that makes you feel that sense of wonder, a catch of the breath in a good way will help. walk in the woods. play with a child.

also, shame is selfish. do something for others intentionally when it hits, to care for them and their needs, deny thoughts of self. that will help as well. it will come in waves, like the withdrawal. you will learn to ride them out. say out loud, "I AM forgiven'

keep saying it.

ETA: a failure is an event, not a person.

ok thats all for now.

[This message edited by Maia at 10:47 AM, April 5th (Friday)]

kairos posted 4/5/2019 11:21 AM

Excellent thoughts here. While I'm not a Christian, I do put value in something guiding the good side of humanity and individuals.

For me, shame was crippling and counterproductive. 90% of it is gone now after about 7 months post-day. Once the so-called fog post-dday had lifted, I started to sort of see myself from outside myself, my real self. That shame kept me stuck inside myself, completely lacking objectivity or reality. Now that I could see who and what I had done in an objective manner, I began to accept it, own up to it. In owning it, I realized I had choices in how I move forward. I can either dig my own grave, or I can grow, become a better man, and develop tools/habits that will hopefully become the foundation for a safe partner / good man. I choose the latter.

I'm sure there is a brain chemistry involved (same as depression or any other malady), but I needed that brain chemistry to work out on its own. I needed to feel that shame like a weed that grew and ultimately died under its own weight. And, every phase moving forward will be the same. There is no clock tracking the time or test approving the next phase; it will be what it will be.

The remorse and regret I now feel are not compacted by shame. They are simple objective beliefs that, yes I did mess up, and yes I will do what is necessary to re-set the balance of justice in my life and hers. But I won't do it out of shame or guilt but rather to do the right thing, which most frequently is the thing no one will ever see but yourself.

Strangely, there is a guilt in letting go of shame. We want to punish ourselves. And that punishment comes in so many different forms, for each of us. I guess I would say, there is a time for feeling that pain, that punishment. And there is a time to say, hey, it's ok, let it go. Move on. But always remember the devil inside. Never assume I am completely whole. Be vigilante with my choices. Be kind to those around me. Pay attention.

Anyway, your post resonates with me (minus the religious stuff, but I also give credit to the higher power thing). Thank you.

Zugzwang posted 4/5/2019 11:31 AM

Thanks. Good post. I would add to me, shame is just another way of letting you know you did something wrong and not to do it again that you were guilty of. Not all bad. Only if you look at it in a bad way or stay stuck and not move on to remorse and restoration. Like your senses telling you not to touch something hot again. Shame is the emotional equivalent of your bodies senses to me for your mind and soul. Part of your conscience. The post is empowering and hopeful. I think some posters in wayward need this right now.

Marcy70 posted 4/5/2019 11:43 AM

also, shame is selfish. do something for others intentionally when it hits, to care for them and their needs, deny thoughts of self. that will help as well. it will come in waves, like the withdrawal. you will learn to ride them out. say out loud, "I AM forgiven'

keep saying it.

Thank you Maia.

Maia posted 4/5/2019 12:53 PM

i think shame works differently for women than men.

i think men are more easily able to put it in a box and close the lid. women have spaghetti brains and everything connects to everything else. so we can tend to struggle differently. not less, not more, just differently. i envy men their waffle brains. their compartments. just be careful to not bury it, to really let it go.

its funny i'm watching a person i admire deal with shame. a different type of shame. he has a project he's wrestled with for a decade. most people finish similar projects within a couple years at most. he's very successful. i don't know him but have read what others say about him, how he wrestles with mental health.

i do this with my own work. i think somehow I got cozy with shame and it morphed, protean, into another area of my life. now i get to root it out there.

shame can hit you at work.imposter syndrome.... same thing 9less weighty!!!)...what if the weight of crippling shame isnt just you????? what if like an echo it's reverberating off walls of self-hatred you built long ago, or worse, the walls built by rejection of others, the wounds of an ugly past. self-inflicted or not, they're there. Trying to walk when your legs are broken isnt going to help you. i also believe in a spiritual world set against us. so theres that too.

let yourself heal. accept you can. and be kind to yourself. go after it with all weapons at hand.

[This message edited by Maia at 12:55 PM, April 5th (Friday)]

Zugzwang posted 4/5/2019 15:16 PM

Yeah, that is interesting way to view it. Men do compartmentalize easier. Most, not all. Though shame is put on us. I remember watching the new A Wrinkle In Time with my kids. You come to find that the boy is being shamed by his father and it is his burden. The girl is stuck on body image stuff, I guess that is some for self shaming. Maybe it is easier for men to compartmentalize. It is still difficult if you don't learn how to navigate and use it. Most of my friends had dad's that shamed them about not being the best at sports. I am glad I was nerd. My dad didn't expect much from me. This really got me thinking. Shame about things you can control and being shamed for things you couldn't. Like being that star player, that just wasn't going to happen no matter how much work you put into practice. Sorry. Was just thinking about the other post with the catcalls and thinking the worst I see are soccer and hockey parents doing the calls and they are just so hard on their kiddos.

Maia posted 4/5/2019 15:42 PM

oh lord. team sports.

it can be really really good for kids or not so much. but i digress. a friend messaged me and i realized this touches on those walls from the past and agreements.

Agreements are from the John Eldredge vernacular, therapist and writer whose books I recommend. But anyhow, he says most of us have received what he calls a message of the arrows from childhood. For me it was that "you're not good enough, you'll never be normal' misfit/reject image of myself. If you AGREE with it, it has power over you. If you fight it you're still AGREEING. I did the whole 'I'm as good as you' thing (me lying to myself, it isnt what I believed) and seemed to be resisting but actually agreed.

you gotta break those agreements.

reject it out loud. i pray through it with god asking where the agreement came from, where i first accepted it. etc. yopu can write it in a journal instead of praying, whatever. i don't care. but break the agreement. do what it takes to actually reject that verdict on your soul. that message of the arrows. make no agreements. not ever. it's dangerous even to say 'i'm an asshole' to yourself. reject it.

that in itself does a whole lot to end shame.

Change4thebetter posted 4/5/2019 17:26 PM

Thank you for sharing these thoughts. It sometimes very hard not to get caught in the shame. It’s dark and it’s powerful but it also never does any good. It certainly doesn’t help myself of my BH to heal or move forward.

Maia posted 4/8/2019 08:48 AM

The question is where are the thoughts and emotions leading you? if they drive you to work on yourself, to therapy, to study your issues or dig or seek to kick your habits???

thats all good.

the other side is the toxic stuff. if it drives you to hide, cower, lie, cover up, drink, shop, binge, escape.....

makes you cringe, makes you want to die.

Thats the fake evil imposter for remorse. Its a liar. Refuse to accept it or listen to it. What feels true isn't true.

journey posted 4/9/2019 17:43 PM

I read here a lot, do not post much. I am a WS, we are in R. DDay was in Jan 2017. This was really an encouragement to me. I guess just knowing there are others who struggled or still struggle with shame. I personally think as a WS I will/should always struggle with it. And I do believe I deserve to, I think all in all, it drives me to be better, to never be that person again. Yet even when I am driven to be better and doing it every day, I still feel full of shame. It is a daily battle not to hate myself, to look in the mirror and see a good person, to feel like I am deserving of my H, and the list goes on. And it is a daily battle to remind myself how gracious my H has been, how much he loves me, how much he still wants me. I hope I get stronger every day for my H and for myself. Thanks for your encouraging words.

DaddyDom posted 4/9/2019 18:55 PM

Thanks for sharing this Maia. I see shame as a "tool", much in the same way that I see pain. Pain, like shame, sucks, and no one wants to have to experience it nor bear it for extended periods of time. However pain is often the precursor, and the vehicle, towards healing and growth. It is a necessary part of the process. Break a bone, and while it heals, it hurts. But that pain means the break is healing. Shame is similar. It is emotional pain during healing.

The thing about both pain and shame is that, while it is a necessary discomfort, and one often required for growth, with either, you can become addicted to the discomfort, and even rely on it.

Some people often extend their own pain greatly. Sometimes this is because of the positive and caring messages from others that tend to accompany such a condition. For example, a person with a broken bone will illicit messages of caring, sympathy, pity, care-taking and so on. By extending their pain, a person can also extend the attention they are getting. Of course, this comes at a cost as it wears on the relationships with others, but a person with self-value issues will often find themselves unconsciously "milking" their pain for all it is worth. The other thing that may happen is the avoidance of the pain, such as getting hooked on pain-killers or alcohol. Again, a person will falsely "extend" their pain in order to keep taking the painkillers.

Shame is different however. Whereas pain is the precursor to healing, shame can go either way. The problem with shame is that, like taking painkillers, it can sometimes help us to avoid facing the actual problem(s) at hand. Instead, shame allows us to focus on the past, and to seek out sympathy and pity, just as we would with pain. This is part of the broken coping skills that many WS's struggle with. This is an immature response to shame. A child may hurt themselves while attempting to sneak the last cookie from the jar. However rather than saying, "I deserved to get hurt because I was doing something wrong", a child will instead run to their mother and ask for pity and help, because they hurt themselves. Their culpability in the actual wrong-doing goes by the wayside. However, many of us, for various reasons, never grow past that immature view. So when shame comes knocking on our door, we expect to be coddled. The opportunity for growth is missed. Instead, we wallow in the shame, and when we don't get coddled, we wallow harder.

Shame, used as a tool, can be used for growth instead. Instead of seeking out sympathy for our poor choices and actions, we can choose to use our shame to promote new thought patterns, new coping skills, and use the "lessons learned" as a way of avoiding shame and doing the right thing in the future.

I mention all of this simply because it was something I struggled with greatly for several years, and still do sometimes. From what I read on SI, others do too. We get so lost in the shame that we can't move past it, which, of course, is simply more self-focused (selfish) behavior, and a lack of progressive or empathetic emotional outcomes. Once a WS can move past the shame, it then can become a motivator for positive change, which can set the WS and hopefully the relationship on a more positive path as well.

I love your perspective on justice here. On the act of not just "serving your time" (which is usually quite useless) and instead, making the victims "whole" again. It moves the focus off the abuser and back on to the victim where it belongs. The goal of the abuser is not to "serve our time", it is to make an effort to both change (so it doesn't happen again and so that we are better people) and also to make recompense to our victims.

Maia posted 4/10/2019 13:58 PM

yeah idk if the wanting to die is a girl thing or not.

but i know I felt it. thanks for the thoughts daddydom.

the idea of justice meaning restoration was big for me.

@journey you're normal. :-) thank you for sharin, keep fighting the battle. you are not alone.

I used to have a signature that said "The light at the end of the tunnel comes when I pull my HEAD from my ARSE"

it's still true. ;p

Zugzwang posted 4/30/2019 08:06 AM

Bumping

JBWD posted 5/1/2019 22:20 PM

It’s exactly what you wrote- IF shame can be managed and harnessed to motivate change, more better. The selfish side of it, though, is where it debilitated. This selfish side is what slowed down my reconciliation- Feeling entitled to feel bad because of what I did, as opposed to focusing on what that hurt feels like to BS.

I was actually talking through this in IC yesterday and wonder if some of this is minimizing- To elevate the WS’s suffering as if to say “You don’t have the market cornered on hurt”... Though at such a phase the BS really does. To help soften the blow to one’s self-image and prove that in some ways the inequality between the emotional damage is somehow less than in actuality

Pippin posted 5/7/2019 10:18 AM

Hi Maia! Waving!

I'm adding this not so much because it reflects my experience (it does, but only a bit) but to add to the ideas of this thread on shame. It doesn't touch on justice which was such an important part of your post. It's by the wife, Stasi Eldredge, of one of your favorite authors, John Eldredge.

I know I am not alone in this nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough as a woman. Every woman I've ever met feels it—something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough, and I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeding on our deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone.

After all, if we were better women—whatever that means—life wouldn't be so hard. Right? We wouldn't have so many struggles; there would be less sorrow in our hearts. Why is it so hard to create meaningful friendships and sustain them? Why do our days seem so unimportant, filled not with romance and adventure but with duties and demands? We feel unseen, even by those who are closest to us. We feel unsought—that no one has the passion or the courage to pursue us, to get past our messiness to find the woman deep inside. And we feel uncertain—uncertain what it even means to be a woman; uncertain what it truly means to be feminine; uncertain if we are or ever will be.

Aware of our deep failings, we pour contempt on our own hearts for wanting more. Oh, we long for intimacy and for adventure; we long to be the Beauty of some great story. But the desires set deep in our hearts seem like a luxury, granted only to those women who get their acts together. The message to the rest of us—whether from a driven culture or a driven church—is: Try harder.

Edit to spell the authors' names correctly

[This message edited by Pippin at 10:19 AM, May 7th (Tuesday)]

JBWD posted 5/7/2019 13:40 PM

By extending their pain, a person can also extend the attention they are getting. Of course, this comes at a cost as it wears on the relationships with others, but a person with self-value issues will often find themselves unconsciously "milking" their pain for all it is worth.

DaddyDom, I think this is the crux of the difference between productive guilt and wallowing. Folks helped me find that difference pretty quick when I showed up here last month.

The key (in my mind) is capturing the sensation of the guilt. If one focuses TOO MUCH on how the guilt impacts them, then we lose focus and return inward- Which can be hazardous for a selfish wayward (not too much of a leap, I don’t think...) Instead it needs to be understanding the pain inflicted, recalling the individual sensation, and taking that on as what one doesn’t want to be in the future. That’s how I’m making sense of better balancing self-absorption with the need to improve as an individual. Thoughts anyone?

Maia posted 5/8/2019 07:56 AM

Pippin that's a great passage. Her work is great at exposing those unnamed vibes we feel and act on. They're like currents pushing us all the time. Shame does that. The "too much" and "not enough" feelings do that as well.

That's why considering these things as external messages of the arrows sent to you can be helpful. It gives you some distance and objectivity so you can handle the thoughts and currents pushing you. You can evaluate the ideas and respond rather than reacting. Sometimes fight the currents and make headway. Sometimes completely be lifted out.

Shame can be a tool but only if it isn't soul crushing. I think you know what that feels like. There's no using that sort of shame. It's really just poison.

Maia posted 5/8/2019 08:02 AM

Jbwd:

It's easy to wallow or milk it. Navel gaze. One of the books I read soon after d day was by aw tozer and he commented that self-anything could be destructive and the goal should be not to indulge in self. No self-pity. No self consciousness. No self-flagellation no self anything.

What helped me to avoid it was the practice of thankfulness and service. And even if it's only prayer i can do for others, it's lifts me out of self. So to spend time focused on them became a rescue. The thankfulness thing as well, keeping a list. It's a lifeline.

We will stumble. We are human. But those things help.

Pippin posted 5/8/2019 08:23 AM

Hi Maia, yes, after posting that I immediately started thinking about why I thought it didn't apply to me. It was tempting to point to the things that are typical problems for American Women Of My Age and Place but I am Just Fine Thank You So Very Much. With examples. But I started my own too much/not enough list, which is easy, because the arrows fly regularly.

(BTW I have decided that it is your gentle implied corrections that work so well for me. The subtext is - go ahead and go down that path if you want to. This one remains open. No shame or judgment in taking your time getting to it. Come to it when you are ready. Not that other ways aren't also helpful, but that keeps me coming back again and again. How do you do that?! ).

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