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JLeslie's avatar

Do you carry shame from your childhood?

Asked by JLeslie (59779points) April 12th, 2019

Was it something you did, or something in your family?

Does it affect your life today? Is the effect very obvious to observers, or more of a psychological effect you battle with? Maybe it used to have some power over your life, but you have been able to put it behind you. How did the change happen if it did?

Feel free to share with us what it was, or not tell anything.

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9 Answers

DigitalBlue's avatar

I’m pretty much crippled by shame from my childhood. I have PTSD from childhood traumas, which was diagnosed at around age 15 (but started before that) and it has had a long term negative impact on my life. I have struggled with my mental health all of my adult life and with severe shame issues, including body dysmorphic disorder and OCD which manifests as a fear that people will “have to look at me.”

It’s obvious to people around me, yes, especially in person. Probably slightly less so online. People regularly remark that I am guarded, walled up, that I’m happy to love people but I push people away who try to love me back or similarly I’ve been accused of trying to “talk people out” of loving me. Everyone I’ve ever asked about what my greatest flaw is or what is “wrong” with me has said that I’m too hard on myself or too negative about myself.

It’s still something that I struggle with, but it’s getting better, finally. I have been in and out of therapy for years but I never sought out therapy specifically for my PTSD before, just traditional CBT trying to address my anxiety and low self esteem. Seeing a trauma therapist has helped me a lot. Once I started to understand how what happened to me was affecting every facet of my life, it became much easier to shift it in a positive direction. Not that it has been easy, far from it, I’ve had to face some truly painful realities. But, now that I have a grasp on trauma and what it does to the brain and seeing firsthand the way that it has impacted me, I do believe that the majority of toxic shame issues are probably rooted in childhood even for people who don’t have PTSD. Everyone has had something terrible happen to them, or their parents fell short in some way (even if they were wonderful parents) and I think connecting those dots and working through that and grieving anything that needs to be grieved can be a healing experience for anyone who struggles with feeling like they aren’t good enough.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Good god, no. What I did (or didn’t do) in my childhood has zero effect on me today. I’m an entirely different person 60 years later.

Maybe I was just a kid who did nothing that caused me shame.

seawulf575's avatar

I’m sure I did things in my childhood that I was ashamed of. But I have gotten over the shame. I find I am much more at peace if I make any atonements I need to make and then forgive myself. All my actions, good and bad, have helped to mold me into the person I am and I am comfortable with that.

gondwanalon's avatar

I was an out of control little monster from age 5 until age 8 or 9. Made my Mother’s life miserable. I’m ashamed and very sorry for that.

Suddenly (while in the 4th grade) I realized the bad things that I did were wrong and I managed to slowly become a good kid. But no matter how I tried, nothing was good enough to make up for the harm that I caused. I’m an old man now and it still hurts to think about it

KNOWITALL's avatar

Yes, I absolutely did. I was born out of wedlock in a small town and as I grew up, my mother was honest with me about the relationship and what happened and that my father wanted an abortion. And she did not want to marry him after that discussion, so she didn’t.

I was very angry for a long time, at her, at him, at not knowing my half-siblings, and I took matters into my own hands around age 18. I met my half sibs and went behind my bio-dad’s back to do so. I had expressed my anger in letters a few times to him, asking what kind of human and Christian he was, basically searching for ‘why’ he refused to be part of my life.

Around age 37, I wrote him a letter of forgiveness, wishing him well for his life and told him I was done chasing the dream of having him and my half-sibs be a part of my life. It helped me release my anger and I decided to chase my own dreams, like being part of govt and a few other things that I never felt ‘good enough’ to do before. I put myself out there with 1000% confidence, knowing I could do anything.

Does it affect my life today? Sadly yes. It still makes me nervous when i see him in the store and he turns his back on me. It still makes me nervous when I pass his wife in the library with not even a smile. Only my close friends and family (and you guys) knows how much it affects me emotionally to be rejected for 46 years over something I had nothing to do with, and certainly no blame.

My professional life has pretty well given me the confidence to pretend none of it matters, but inside, I know it does and always will.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I understand everything that @DigitalBlue wrote intimately.

Growing up gay in the place and at the time I did instilled immense shame in me, and I have spent 32 years in therapy to learn to cope with it. That’s one sentence that has enormous implications that I simply don’t care to expound on here. There are too many homophobes on this site. It’s not safe for me here.

Stache's avatar

No, not from my childhood. If this were about adulthood that’d be a different story.

flutherother's avatar

I’m not ashamed of anything from my childhood. It was only later, when I should have known better that I did things that I’m now ashamed of. Even though I feel I am forgiven.

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