Day 5: Why Do I Feel So Much Shame? How Am I Going To Change It?

Keeping in line with the theme of schemas, today’s blog will be about the defectiveness/shame schema.

Just a quick reminder of the definition, this schema refers to the belief that one is inherently flawed and that if others get close, they will realize this and withdraw from the relationship, This feeling of being flawed and inadequate often leads to a strong sense of shame. Generally parents were very critical of their children and made them feel as if they were not worthy of being loved.
When I think back to my childhood, I don’t know if my parents were super critical or not. I honestly can’t remember. I remember them having high standards for me and expecting me to get A’s in school, but I was in the the Gifted program as a child, so I think that might have been part of it. I know schoolwork came easily to me, so easily in fact that I was often bored during class. I was also bullied mercilessly for being smart and catching onto to things quicker than others, and for coming up with ideas that were most certainly outside of the box. When you’re going to an inner city school, sticking out like that is bad. I can still remember how much it hurt to be made fun of for always raising my hand when I knew the answer because 9 times out of 10, I knew the answer, plus a it of trivia to go along with it. I was just a kid, and very socially awkward. I didn’t learn until years later that nobody likes a know-it-all and my wealth of knowledge was very much unwanted and undesired.
I think I acquired this schema over years of being bullied at school and no one doing anything about it. It probably also stems from the years of abuse I endured while many people (actually pretty much everyone) turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to my sufferings. I know that at a young age I started cutting because I couldn’t handle all the emotions inside of me that I didn’t understand. I never said anything to anyone about the cutting because I didn’t think anyone would care, and I felt a deep sense of shame at the fact I was cutting. I knew I shouldn’t do it for some reason, but I was still compelled to do it when I became overwhelmed, which was often.
I don’t know when I started believing that people didn’t care about me and that I was nothing, but I know it was pretty ingrained in my head by the time I was 13. I struggled even more as a teen, and things only got worse in my twenties. Now that I’m 30, things have reached a head, and I’m ready for some hope and change. REAL hope and change. Hope and change that I have control over.
I don’t want to deal with these feelings of shame, rejection, inadequacy and failure anymore. I can look back and see where the thoughts might have started, but I’m ready to change them now. I feel ready to accept the things that happened to me, and acknowledge that they hurt and move on. I’ve got a long road ahead of me, but I think I’m ready to start letting people see the real me, and if they don’t like what they see, well then they weren’t worth the energy spent on them anyway.
Who am I though? I’m a snotty, sarcastic brat sometimes. I get my feelings easily hurt. I don’t like being criticized, too much anyway. I don’t like gossip or talking about people behind their backs, and I’m disinclined to befriend anyone who does that. I’m loyal to the people I care about. I’m a semi-devout Mormon. I love my religion but I struggle with the practicing it at all times, and in all things, and in all places. It’s all a part of the learning to be a good Mormon thing though, and I don’t stop working at it. I have to remember not one member is a perfect Mormon and it helps keep me calm-ish when I inevitably screw up, lol. I’ll come out swinging if I feel my kids are being threatened or in danger. My daughter’s school definitely knows who I am because I don’t hesitate to talk to them if I perceive a problem. I’m officially a geek. My husband can be thanked for that. I quote Harry Potter like Scripture, am obsessed with Orson Scott Card’s Ender Games series, and am impatiently awaiting Catching Fire being released. I love fighting for mental health rights, and am passionate about promoting anti-bulllying and suicide prevention programs for all the grade schools across Utah. I thoroughly enjoy my work with NAMI as well as the small part I play with the AFSP. I want to do more and am slowly building up to being more active in those organizations.
I think maybe I am starting to love me. Or at least like me a little bit. I mean, if I met someone who was just like the person I described me as, I’d at least like them. I might even adore them. So if I could adore a hypothetical person who is just like me, why can’t I adore me? Why can’t I be my biggest fan? I mean, no one else is going to be my constant cheerleader like I can be. My husband does his best, and my friends do their best, but they all fall short. I’ve got to cheer me on because only I know the best way to cheer for me.
And in all honesty, I haven’t been a very easy person to befriend. I’ve perceived myself as socially awkward for so long that it’s my defense mechanism I hide behind. I can’t be sociable because no one will like me for who I really am. I’m always sticking my foot in my mouth so I should stay aloof and distant. My therapist says I hide behind my sarcasm, but I’m working on overcoming that. I’ve been 100% genuine in all of my conversations with commenters and in my blog posts.
I can’t think so negatively anymore. One of the biggest things I have to do is practice forgiveness. I have to forgive myself for all the screw ups I’ve made, and let them go. God has forgiven me for my sins ‘and remembers them no more’, why can’t I do the same? I’ve got to. I’ve also got to accept that it was…not…my…fault…for being abused as a child. I am slowly coming to terms with that and trying to accept that I was a helpless victim at the time. I pray that I’ll be able to forgive myself because once I’m not holding myself to such impossible standards, maybe I’ll truly love myself then.  I’ll be able to see others as the beautifully imperfect people they are too, and enjoy having them in my life.
So, another introspective blog about where I am in this adventure called Life, and where I plan on heading next. I’ve made goals, now I have to follow through with them. Wish me luck, I think I’m going to need a healthy dose of that to become the person I dream of being. I hope you found my journey through this schema interesting and not a boring waste of time. If you’ve stuck with me this long, thanks for sticking it out with me.
So is there anything you discovered about yourself as you read this post? Do you have any goals you want to make, or any things you’d like to start changing about yourself? I still feel I’m a very flawed being, I know I’ve got lots of work to do to change that. How much work, if any, do you think you have to do on yourself?
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