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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Hauber

Overcoming Shame

Updated: Nov 5, 2023



For forty-two years, I suffered in silence.  I purposely shut out memories from my childhood that were too painful for me to process.  I always believed I was resilient and had the ability to succeed despite this. It is my hope that in sharing this, I can convince others to open up to someone in order to embark on their own journey of healing. Although I wasn’t consciously aware of it at the time, the amount of shame I carried was insurmountable.  What would YOU think of me if you knew?  Any anger I had toward this situation was turned inward, and I absolutely hated myself. On the outside, I appeared carefree, outgoing and happy.  I was playing a part, and I was a good actress. However, on the inside, I was riddled with fear, doubt, self-loathing, and with a feeling that I did not belong.  

Quote about Shame from Brene Brown
Quote about Shame

 

Shame can have positive attributes. It helps us set limits and boundaries on our own behavior.  However, when shame overtakes one’s identity, it can become toxic.  I never felt good enough and I created a false identity. I became a perfectionist, a people-pleaser, and anyone YOU wanted me to be. I craved constant validation. My entire self-worth was contingent upon what YOU thought of me. I always believed in the saying “I am what I think YOU think I am.”

 

I eventually turned to substances to help me cope with the feelings I had on the inside. This became my solution.  They acted as a social lubricant that lowered my inhibitions and gave me the ability to feel comfortable in my own skin. Eventually, I fell into addiction.  My life spiraled out of control, and the intrinsic shame I shouldered became compounded exponentially by the humiliation of my own actions.  I no longer wanted to live.

 

After seeking help at a treatment center, I not only began a life of sobriety, but I opened up about my past for the first time. I realized that I was not alone as others shared about their own similar experiences.  Over time, I slowly opened up to my family, close friends, and support group.  To my surprise, their reactions were not of shock and horror to my actions. They were supportive and helped me embrace the truth that I was a blameless victim of my past. They also helped me learn to forgive myself for my own actions in addiction.

 

My blog is titled “The Healing Power of Vulnerability” because becoming honest with myself and others helped to heal the shame that held me prisoner for a long time.  I have learned to accept and love myself for who I am defects and all.  I share my story at treatment centers to offer hope in overcoming addiction and to help encourage others to own their truth. Today I am free…free from the shame and the  constant worry of others’ opinions.  I have learned to be kind and love myself.  If you can relate to the feelings I have expressed in this post, I encourage you to open up to a trusted friend or therapist in order to feel the peace and happiness that we all deserve.

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