Shame

Boldini- Franca FlorioI have been so ashamed of being who I am. First ashamed of being transsexual, then ashamed of the bits which do not fit the box called by others “primary transsexual”. Imagining that a “good person” is not like this and then lying to myself that I am that kind of “good person”, so that I have been enmeshed in lies and evasions. Denying parts of me which are good and healthy. Hiding away because I felt the Whole World would judge me for who I am, which was almost entirely my projection onto it: on investigation I find far less judgment of me in others than has been in myself. Collecting stories of, say, nutcase Evangelicals in another continent who object to a trans child expressing self congruently at school, so I can tell myself my fear is right. Ascribing so much importance to a casual insult in the street, far more importance than to acceptance by a friend or colleague. Having no self-respect, so needing to generate it from the regard of others or from achievement: but only perfection was tolerable, anything less was a shocking failure. So gradually withdrawing from all challenges whatsoever, to control of my life within my own living room. This is why I am unemployed: I could not bear to feel my own fear and anger, so I withdrew from life, to create a situation where I would not feel them.

And.

Always, always healing and growing. Always exploring, a compliment I cherish is “You are interested in life”, interested in everything Human. Always moving forward into expressing myself more congruently. Even after I transitioned in 2002, and now even after I see that being transsexual is blessing, not curse, wonderful and beautiful, I had so much rage and terror and pain to process. I held myself together without self-respect, knowing that I was Disgusting, and when I realised I am Beautiful, as a human being, I felt the full hurt of having endured the other for so long. And I am now processing that.

It has been so hard to accept myself. And I think I have done it.

Created in the image of God, and therefore loving, creative and powerful, I am good and beautiful separate from my achievements: and I have accepted that. And this frees me to get things wrong, and learn. And to accept the World as it is. And, in my own time, move on from here.

This poem needs quoting in full:

MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME

I was there at your conception,
In the epinephrine of your mother’s shame.
You felt me in the fluid of your mother’s womb.
I came upon you before you could speak,
Before you understood,
Before you had any way of knowing.
I came upon you when you were learning to walk,
When you were unprotected and exposed
When you were vulnerable and needy
Before you had any boundaries….
MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME.

I came upon you when you were magical,
Before you could know I was there.
I severed your soul, I pierced you to the core.
I brought you feelings of being flawed and defective.
I brought you feelings of distrust, ugliness, stupidity, doubt,
worthlessness, inferiority, and unworthiness.
I made you feel different.
I told you there was something wrong with you.
I soiled your Godlikeness….
MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME.

I existed before conscience,
Before guilt, Before morality.
I am the master emotion!
I am the internal voice that whispers words of condemnation.
I am the internal shudder that courses through you without any mental preparation….
MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME.

I live in secrecy in the deep moist banks of darkness, depression, and despair.
Always I sneak up on you, I catch you off guard, I come through the back door,
Uninvited, Unwanted, The first to arrive.
I was there at the beginning of time with Father Adam, Mother Eve
Brother Cain.
I was the Tower of Babel, the Slaughter of Innocents….
MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME.

I come from “shameless” caretakers, abandonment, ridicule, abuse, neglect – perfectionistic systems.
I am empowered by the shocking intensity of a parent’s rage,
The cruel remarks of siblings;
The jeering humiliation of other children;
The awkward reflection in the mirrors;
The touch that feels icky and frightening;
The slap, the pinch, the jerk that ruptures trust.
I am intensified by a racist, sexist culture,
The righteous condemnation of religious bigots;
The fears and pressures of schooling;
The hypocrisy of politicians;
The multigenerational shame of dysfunctional family systems…
MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME.

I can transform a woman person, a Jewish person, a black person, a white person, a gay person, an oriental person, a precious child into,
A bitch, a kike, a nigger, a cracker, a bull dyke, a faggot, a chink, a selfish little bastard.
I bring a pain that is chronic, a pain that will not go away.
I am the hunter that stalks you night and day.
Every day, everywhere,
I have no boundaries.
You try to hide from me, but you cannot
Because I live inside you,
I make you feel hopeless, Like there is no way out….
MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME.

My pain is so unbearable that you must pass me onto others through control, perfectionism, contempt, criticism, blame, envy, judgement, power, and rage.
My pain is so intense, You must cover me up with addictions, rigid roles,
reenactments, and unconscious ego defenses.
My pain is so intense, that You must numb out and no longer feel me.
I convinced you that I am gone – that I do not exist – you experience absence and emptiness….
MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME.

I am the core of co-dependency, I am spiritual bankruptcy,
The logic of absurdity, the repetition compulsion.
I am crime, violence, incest, rape, I am the voracious hole that fuels all addictions. I am insatiability and lust.
I am Ahaverus the Wandering Jew, Wagner’s Flying Dutchman, Dostoyevski’s underground man, Kierkegaard’s seducer, Goethe’s Faust.
I twist who you are into what you do and have.
I murder your soul and you pass me on for generations….
MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME.

“Home Coming: Reclaiming and Championing your Inner Child.”
by John Bradshaw

The joy is that we are learning this, and helping ourselves out of it.

10 thoughts on “Shame

  1. Dear, I’m old enough to remember separate water fountains marked “White” and “Negro”. I’ve recently become aware of my own potential for violence in the face of any insult over my gender. I don’t know that it springs from shame so much as a lifetime of dealing with the intolerance common here in the American south.  I’ve been working on a post about my own fear of becoming one of those American headlines regarding the transgendered and violence, with the twist of this transgendered woman being the attacker. 

    I’m not a Quaker, nor am I predisposed to violence. So, whether it’s shame or finally having had it with those who would tell me that this metaphorical fountain is for the cis-gendered only, I notice that either has the potential of reducing me as a human being. 

    I always appreciate your posts. 

    Best,
    Lily Valetta

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    • Thank you. And I am moved by your accounts of your situation. In the UK we had the Race Relations Act in the 1960s, beginning law against discrimination, and in my lifetime black people have moved from being consciously accepted to just being normal. There was a lot of prejudice against gay people in the 1980s, which has almost all gone, and I have few problems. I hope you do not have to fight back, and if you do I hope you win. Often we do.

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  2. Sorry, I know your war stories are far worse than mine, though about 2 years before I was born, you’d find ads in newspapers all over the country, and they’d say stuff such as; “Room for rent, people from North Norway are not welcome as applicants”. At about 50% of all the ads for jobs, rooms, etc in the South Norway, where about 90% of our population lived, and all the work was …

    I am from North Norway …

    At about 2-3 years after I was born I think, the Norwegian government stopped the forced sterilization program for another Ethnic group from North Norway called ‘Sami people’ …

    Basically, if these people were having their appendix removed for instance, they’d be sterilized without consent, or knowledge about it …

    One doctor in this Eugenics program even bragged about how he’d sterilized more than 3.000 Sami People …

    Anyway, we can choose to focus on what we want. Some days we look ourselves into the mirror and we see at least ‘something’ which we find beautiful, while other days we look ourselves into the mirror and can only see ugliness. What’s really the difference between those two days?

    Do you think you were a ‘different person’ the day you found your beauty …?

    Of course not, our minds creates our perception of reality, which again significantly influences what we ‘give’, which again becomes what we ‘get’ in return …

    If you ‘feel shame’, you’ll ‘get shame’, I guess is my point …

    Now, however I know, that’s painfully much more easy for me to say, who wasn’t born in the wrong body … 😦

    Though still, I think it might work for you too, regardless of what body you were born in, because our reality is in our MINDS …

    Anyway, maybe a little joke would help cheer you up a little bit 🙂

    http://illuminatedbuddha.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/the-oldest-shortest-and-funniest-joke-on-earth/

    Ask yourself this question;
    “What would I WANT to feel today?”

    Then go down to the mirror, and search for it in your mirror, until you find it. Because beauty is INSIDE of us, however, every now and then, it shines through … 🙂

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    • So am I just wallowing? Shame, fear and anger in a post shortly, my pain, my suffering, my Struggle? It feels as if I am healing. So, for example, on 2 October I realised how I projected my shame onto other people, seeing it as their judgment of me, so rather than choosing a feeling it seems I am bringing to the surface feelings which I have built up and empowered and suppressed over years, and inadequate ways of being, so that I can heal the feeling through being aware of it, and see other people more clearly without my projection, and live better. I want action to advance my interests, and better ways of being in the World. I hope to get there through seeing my scars and wounds, and healing them.

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  3. Wow, that is one powerful poem. Living in the land where extremist pretenders to a meant-to-be-loving faith profess their end-of-days curses of doom and damnation day in and day out via the world’s most successful vehicle of mindless propaganda ever (eat your heart out Pravda and Reichsministrium von Propaganda, you’ve got nothing on Faux News) – yes, living in that land the word “toxic” comes to mind often. Sometimes it helps, though, when I realize that these people are in pain, too. I don’t mean this as some kind of Schadenfreude exercise of oh, ha ha, that wingnut is terrified of eternal damnation and isn’t that funny…no, just that lots of people are hurting and in pain and afraid of change, including those on the polar opposite of my belief system. They’re not benefiting from the evils of our oligarchic plutocracy either. Change is hard – cheers to those who do it with grace and strength, clearly yourself among them.

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