I remember the first time I realized that “shame” was a word that actually related to feelings I had. It was such a teeny, tiny word for such an immense world of feeling that it seemed to have nothing to do with the hugeness of the feeling.
For years and years I had been living with these big, amorphous feelings that were just there, that I had no words for, that just permeated everything inside of me and outside of me.
By the time I finally could put that teeny, tiny word to that immense world of feeling I had been working with my now-long-term therapist for several years, and I must have cleared enough of the fog that sat in my feelings to be able to start to get focus on something inside that enormous mess.
Years later I can use the word “shame” and apply it to a human-sized feeling that can make me feel awful for a little while, but doesn’t overwhelm me and stop me in my tracks. I know what that feeling feels like, I know what started it way back when, I know sometimes what calls it up now. It is a feeling that I can live with, finally.
You put this so beautifully Iris – it really helps me to understand my own experience in a new way. It’s so important to know that there is a way out of toxic shame and you give hope!
Thank you, Clare.