The Ghost of Shame

imagesI recently had an opportunity to visit an old wound, it wasn’t intentional and it sort of took me by surprise. You see, anymore, I just simply don’t get triggered, or hurt or sad when I see babies or pregnant people---I never imagined that I would get to this point back when I was trying to conceive.  I truly couldn’t dream such a place of non-hurt actually existed, and yet that is where I am. It turns out that the land of “I am happy for others when they conceive” is as real as you and me. I do want to say, for the record, that I don’t think I just got there---I think it took a whole lot of work to get to that place where it doesn’t hurt and I am grateful to have arrived. Okay, having said all of that, the other day I learned some joyous news, someone I care about is having a baby and I am VERY happy about that, I am over the moon. I truly and absolutely celebrate in their joy and want every good thing for them. And to be entirely honest there wasn’t the tiniest bit of envy, however something else happened a few short hours after learning the happy news. An old complex haunted me, like a bad ghost out of a Dicken’s novel, it was the “what is wrong with me?” ghost and it had something’s to say. If you have ever tried and tried to make something work ( a job, a relationship, conceiving, or whatever) you may be familiar with this ghost. Here is what this ghost says, not boo”, rather it says “There is something wrong with you, something deeply wrong that you couldn’t make this normal, natural thing happen that millions of others of people can do. If you were okay you would have had the job, the marriage, or the kid and because you don’t have it is evidence that you aren’t okay.” The emotional nature of this ghost’s unwelcome attack is shame, it goes straight for the jugular in its attack.

As soon as that ghost reared his ugly head I was taken a back, “Really?” I couldn’t believe it was visiting and yet there was something in his shame-based attack that stuck in my psychic craw. I sat at the intersection of ‘that is a really stupid attack and totally untrue, there is nothing wrong with you’ and “super good question, there is definitely something wrong with me”. I appreciate that I was at that intersection, and yes I could have done without the “there is something wrong with me” nonsense, however it is MUCH better to have the ability to reality test such absurdity than to believe it absolutely.

I reminded myself of some truths that made the ghost go away, “I didn’t conceive for lots of reasons that are medically based, none of those are about something being wrong with the core of me.” The ghost backed up a bit further and started to look like an extra on the set of Casper the Friendly Ghost. I told the ghost I wasn’t going to entertain him and I shared the ghost’s absurd claims with people I love, that always makes it go away. Its faulty logic never stands up to scrutiny when I share it with others.

How has shame tried to tell you that there is something wrong with you, and that is why you didn’t get what you wanted? What do you do when it haunts you?