I am here to loudly and proudly admit that shame has been one of the biggest emotions in my life over the past few years. I am also here to admit that there are ways to accept your shame, overcome it, and move forward with peace, love and self-acceptance.
I have spent a long time feeling shame about the current state of my life. While I was married, I felt shame that I was with a man who hurt me. I felt like everyone else had these magical, fairy-tale romances and I was the one lonely soul who had entered a toxic union. Looking back, that was unbelievably naïve and I've made peace with that. I know there are many others who have lived a similar experience and it is not my fault that someone else CHOSE to hurt me.
Unfortunately, when the marriage dissolved shame really reared its' ugly face. When everyone around me was settling down and having babies, here I was, no children, early 30's, getting divorced.
Shame is one of those emotions that is hard to kick. Shame isn't about feeling bad about something you have done, shame is feeling destructive feelings about who you are as a person. Being unable to overcome shame has been one of the darkest pieces of this past year.
Shame in myself led to these hard realities in my life:
- The need to numb everything through far too many nights filled with alcohol
- Avoidance of some of my close friends
- Shutting down and closing off - not talking about my shame with people close to me
- Feelings of worthlessness
- At my darkest times - suicidal thoughts
I am not scared to write about where shame has driven me because that is exactly the thing that shame needs to thrive - privately dealing with it on our own.
Here are some of the best strategies that helped me (mostly) overcome the shame I felt.
1. Opening up to Trusted Friends and Family
By no means do you need to tell all your friends and family about your shame feelings and the reasons for it. Find even just one person, (to steal from Grey's Anatomy), "your person," to open up to about your feelings of shame. This helped me tremendously. Taking away the veil of secrecy was the first step to overcoming the shame I felt.
2. Connecting with Others who have Lived a Similar Experience
Instagram has been huge for me. Around Christmas, I started a second instagram account. It became a journal for me where I could post exactly what I was feeling. Through this account, I've connected with so many other people who have lived a similar experience as myself. It has helped me feel not so alone and has helped me accept and overcome my shame, because I know there are others out there like me. So go, create that instagram account, join that talk-therapy group, blog, etc. Find an avenue where you can connect with others who have lived a similar experience as yourself.
3. Acknoweldge My Shame
This is so important! I had to acknowledge the negative emotions I was feeling. I had to acknowledge the negative thoughts I was thinking (even those dark suicidal ones).
-If you run from your pain, you will never overcome it-
Only when I accepted what I was going through was I able to start to work through it.
4. Being Actively Hopeful
During my dark days, I lost all hope that I would one day become my aunthetic self and be happy again. I always had hope in the past, before my marriage, and I wanted that again. Because it was no longer coming organically, I decided to force myself to actively have hope for my future. I have found a journal helpful with this. I write down what I am hopeful for.
5. Forgiving Myself
This was really hard for me. I'm not there fully, but I'm getting there. You can read about my journey to forgiveness in a prior blog post, but I'll say one thing. Once I changed my inner-dialogue from "I can't forgive," to "I won't forgive," everything changed. Be easy on yourself and forgive yourself for whatever you are persecuting yourself for.
6. Looking at the Bigger Picture
So many times, I have gotten lost looking at my experience very short-sighted. I have so many years in my life ahead of me. To be cliché, this is just one chapter in the book of my life. I don't want to waste any more days feeling shame for a failed relationship, an experience I had that shaped the person I am.
Therapy helped me tremendously, and it still does. It is an unbiased person you can talk to and reveal everything to. Every time I have left therapy, I have felt better. It's been a tremendous tool on my path to self-acceptance.
8. Accepting My Story
I fell in love, I got married, it didn't last very long, we didn't have children, I am now getting divorced at 31. This is my story. It is not the conventional story of most people, but it is mine. And that is OK. It will shape who I am moving forward and who I allow in my life. It will make me stronger and more appreciative of all the wonderful things in my life. Own your story and be proud of who you are at this very moment.
Founder of the site Divorced at 30, Alexandra is a blogger who is passionate about speaking her truth. She is on a healing journey as she enters this new chapter in her life. A mental health advocate, she is passionate about motivating others to find “the light” and attain peace.