Living in the Shadow of Shame


The shames of the past actually don’t remain in the past; they walk with us each day unannounced but make themselves felt in every choice and decision that we make and in every reflection we see of ourselves…

I have been thinking a lot about shame… Its not something that I have ever given time to consider before in my life although there are things that I am ashamed of and hide from in my life. Things have been revealing themselves as shame and I have started to see a pattern emerging in me and many people around me.

How many of our reactions and responses are hopes and dreams are coloured by shame… and the shame is not just over things that we ourselves have done. I have been reminded lately of shames connected with family and parents… the same in every family really and often how they affect us each every day are the same too…

I grew up in a family that had a problems, my mum had a form of mental illness and so her behaviour was out of the ordinary, and the problems associated with it caused me to feel ashamed of her behaviour and somehow that reflected onto me too and so I carried it…

I felt like I had to apologise for her, to different people, in different situations right throughout my life, somehow even in my growing up years I knew that it wasn’t her fault somehow and that she was and is an amazing woman…. I remember times where she had said things to people by way of her strong opinion that I totally disagreed with and I wanted to apologise to people on her behalf and on my behalf. What is that all about? Isn’t it wrong to take on the shame from someone else’s behaviour? But we do it, we feel it, we sense it, and we hope that by doing so we may go some way towards making whatever it is right.

I was speaking to one of my sons friends… His mum had ‘gone off’ at him, and taken it out on my son a bit too… This boy who is very troubled by things in his life and has some kind of behavioural problem couldn’t stop apologising to me and trying to make it right… He is a good boy in his heart and so over and over again he messaged me to see if I was upset with him etc. and I tried to reassure him that it is not his fault, to SOME extent even his mum’s fault as they are in a difficult situation… I related to carrying that shame and embarrassment of living with someone else’s behaviour or illness…

I was reminded of the passages in the bible that talk about the ‘sins of the father’ being passed down through the sons and I thought that it was a similar thing… Win sin goes shame, hand in hand they walk and take all they can with them…

So where is shame hiding in my life right now? The areas have been coming to light and I am starting to see a pattern emerge of where shame does hide and then you begin to identify the tell-tale signs of shame in others too… Shame is crippling.

When building a relationship with a teenager one of the important things it to keep shame away, if you want them to open up to you and relate to you they have to feel primarily loved and accepted because as you see, if they don’t feel this they will only hide from you and if they feel they have disappointed you then they do not want you to find out because that make them ashamed and they don’t want you to feel that way either…

In some tricky way, shame has become entwined with the need for approval and acceptance. And low self-esteems provide a platform for shame to hide under…

So I am seeing shame that has been hiding in me from years gone by and I am seeing shame that is in my life from yesterday… As I learn to accept that I am loved, accept that I am accepted and learn to accept forgiveness and also forgive myself  I will begin the walk out from shames shadow…

Do not let shame play hide and seek in your life, if you see shame there, his brothers guilt and low self-esteem are there also … The whole family needs evicting – don’t feel sorry for them they are no family of yours!

~By Cam Richmond~

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  1. Thanks Cam, I needed to read that today. 🙂

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