7 sneaky symptoms of shame

The more I study shame, the more convinced I become that basically everyone struggles with it.  And the more I study shame, the more apparent it becomes that while many of us have shame issues, very few of us are aware of that we have shame issues.

The nature of shame is that it longs to hide its nature.  Shame is ashamed of even itself. Very rarely does it make its presence known.  Instead, shame wraps itself up in other emotions, forcing you to play emotional Whac-A-Mole, keeping you engaged in a battle on one front while your opponent actually dwells somewhere else altogether.

God-hunger

I like the Snickers commercials. The premise is that you’re not yourself when you’re hungry. You behave like a totally different person and you have no idea why. Then you get food and realize: oh! I was just hungry!  

When I was a kid I remember every time I would get upset about something my family would exchange glances and ask one another when was the last time I ate. I have learned to spot my signs of hunger. Irritability, mental confusion, shakiness are all symptoms that prompt me to check my stomach and consider whether or not I might need food.

Swinging swords at shadows

Let me tell you something about me: I hate shame.

I don’t just hate it intellectually, I hate it experientially.  The cells that store memory in my brain can well testify that I have felt its paralyzing power.

The insidious power of shame over past sin is that it keeps you fighting ghosts.  It distracts. It keeps you swinging at shadows, seeking to slaughter sins long dead.

It’s goal: keep you from seeking to slay shame itself.

Fear

The fear is always there.  It lurks just below the surface prodding and pushing, demanding and dragging me places I don’t want to go.

I’m not afraid of death.

I’m afraid of life.

I’m afraid of waking up to a world I reject.  I’m afraid that the words ‘it won’t always be like this’ are hollow and void of any real power.  I’m afraid that the next bend in the road will lead me somewhere darker than death.  I’m afraid of being unknown, unwanted, rejected and alone.  I’m afraid that the next time someone asks me how I am doing I will tell them the truth and then I will have to watch their eyes widen and their face flush before I make a joke to relieve the awful pressure of reality pushing down on us both.

Me and Ariel

[This is a guest post from one of my favorite writers and favorite people: Annie Lent.  I’m praying for her right now: that she would use her voice to speak often.  And that she would believe she has Disney princess hair.]

The Little Mermaid was my favorite movie when I was a kid. I loved her long red hair and curiosity. I loved her cave of pretty things. I loved her crabby best friend. I love that she was bound and determined to see another world.