It was almost two months ago that I was feeling so lost and pained. I was suffering the loss of my marriage and disconnection from every single person I have known in my life. Being successfully isolating myself for the past four years due to layers of shame web falling down over me, made me keep everything bottled, avoiding the discomforts of judging statements, subtle intentional or unintentional shaming, penetrating eyes, and toxic blaming, I chose to keep the distance as a safeguard.
I was successful. No body can touch me, physically. But the torments stayed. The voices, the feeling of being watched, of being judged, of being shamed, never really gone away. For a year I thought I have been freed and gained back my freedom. I made new friends, I entered new environments, tried new things, tried to disown parts of me that were causing me pain (my family, my nationality, my memories, my old friends, my name, my heritage).
Only to have them come swinging back at me the next vulnerable moment I have in my life.
I realised by then, my method was not working.
The fixing mode in me was kicking, fuelled heavily by the fight and flight attacks that got me burnt out eventually, the combination was not a beautiful sight. Doing research while panicking made me skipped many important facts about myself. Like, the reasons why it made me panicked in the first place.
So..I tried meditation, yoga, improve my nutrition, weight lifting, traveling, mindfulness, reading spiritual books, and joining spiritual groups to connect with like minded people.
I thought I was doing the right things. What I didn’t realise was, while I do all those things, I kept a part of me that keeps on self shaming my self on. To be honest, everything I did was trying to find a way to make that ability turned off.
Hence my mission to find everything I can do to make it go away.
This October 30, I realised I learned something very important in my life that has been yammering me since decades ago. Basically, the message was,
“Trust your self.”
I have been burying myself with shame that I couldn’t listen to that voice. I was a deaf spirit.
This started me into an intensive soul searching journey. I gave all my time just for this. Basically I felt like entering a new gate of hope with a single mission. To uncover my true self.
And along the way, I could see that the universe heed my desperate calls of help.
I met three counsellors who are willing to help me through this journey. They came from different parts of life. One is an old lady with similar experience during her younger years, who I saw as resembling my grandmother.
Another mature lady that resembles my mother. She was the teacher that gave me step by step the coping skill to face people in my environment. Taught me how to use boundaries. And the power of vulnerabilities.
The third lady from another part of the world but committed her time to help me as a life coach. Helping me navigate through the uncharted world of my new life. She resembles an older sister I never had.
Then there are also other ladies that supported me in surprisingly unexpected ways:
My physiotherapist, she gently comforted me when I suddenly alarmed both of us by crying in one of her appointments. She referred me to the next woman, to help me soothe and relax my body.
My acupuncturist, she has the most amazing way to make me feel so grateful about knowing acupuncture in my life. Her office, where I spent 20-30 minutes each week is one of my favourite sanctuaries today.
My GP, despite her concerned judgement about making a letter to the government to excuse me from working more than 15 hours per week due to my mental health, she has her heart in the best place, and she was the one who helped me find the mediator for me and my spouse.
My mediator, she was an assuring lady who calmly asked me probing questions about the state of my marriage without making me feel attacked. Her presence as a mediator made me feel stronger. And despite meeting her only for several hours, the feeling I got from that meeting was that I have met a good person.
My college mate, in my desperate loneliness of making connection with the world, she gave her time to meet me and cooked delicious meal for me. Her act of kindness and welcome was making my heart feeling warm despite the anxiety and nervousness that washed over me almost the whole time I was spending the afternoon with her family.
My psychic medium, she gave me messages from my spirit guides and loved ones, even the one that has not yet entered life on Earth. Mason Logan was the name I wanted him to have, and that was the name I gave him when I learned that he was contacting her to send me a message that he is alright. This blessing made me feel so touched every time I remember it, I realised I have numbed my feelings so much that I couldn’t fathom the idea that a spirit would come to comfort me from a different dimension.
They are amazing women whom I am blessed to have in my past 8 weeks journey.
With the support of amazing people in my life, slowly I can climb back to feeling of peace and calmness despite still being disconnected with my loved ones.
I started my research again, this time I broaden my search, not just focused with the science and spiritual aspects, I tweaked my fear of the unknown and embraced knowledge about psychology more.
Since young I have been interested in psychology, but I dislike mainstream psychology so much because of how the media shredded the knowledge to pieces to make stereotypes that ended up making me feel better off not knowing more about psychology from their sources.
But as my journey progresses, I found myself looking for answers of my past. My identity. The ones I have avoided and thrown away, because I didn’t want to be defined by them. And as I collected them back again, I found new ones that I didn’t think I had in me before.
I learned that my issue is not lacking self confidence. It was having no shame resilience. Why? Because no one in my immediate family would even recognise that danger was even existed back then. No one in my Asian family living in an Asian culture would understand that using shame to control people is damaging. Using shame to raise their children is subjecting this kids to a struggling adult life.
No. They thought they were doing their best to help their children prepare into the real world. The world they have known their entire lifetime before the children came.
So I realised it was a futile effort from my end to blame them for raising me the way they did.
Then the issue of emotional abuse. More shaming. Would blaming help? No. This voice inside me answered quite calmly.
Embracing back my past identity was the best decision I made during the journey. I decided to review some of the past useful information I stored in my bookmarked links. And then I found a very useful link from Richard Step to help me know my identity. I took his test where I found my strengths and my weakness.
He recommended some books to read, and this made me activated my membership with audible. I decided I wanted less of reading physical books and more of listening to audiobooks because it’s effortless, sometimes cheaper, and I can do it while doing other things (jogging, taking bath, driving, cooking, etc). Like someone said, it is life changing.
This made me checked some of the books available in my library, and I realised there were several books about narcissistic parents that I have been wanting to learn about. So after listening to audiobooks about narcissistic parents by Karyl McBride “Will I Ever Be Enough” and by the Pressman couple “The Narcissistic Family”, I realised victim mode doesn’t help me get what I want. Freedom is not possible for me through the ways of blaming.
This made me look for more books, and then someone in the narcissistic survivor group I belong to recommended Brene Brown‘s book “Daring Greatly”. I have been hearing praises about her books, and I also have enjoyed her Ted talks, so I decided to listen to her audiobook. And wow it did wonders.
Her research made me learn that shaming was what making me look like a person who is lacked of self confidence. The revelation I had made me realise that I have always had a healthy dose of self confidence. What I didn’t get during my childhood was shame resilience (shame was caused by invalidation, lack of connection with people in my direct environment, fear, and blame).
My father thought my issue was lack of self confidence. So his method was to invalidate me more, he thought it would brazen my mental level. What happened was obviously my self-esteem was diminished, followed by my self confidence.
Self confidence is self trust. Your level of trusting your self to do something, for example an actor would be confident in acting but not so much in architecting a new building.
Self esteem is self worth. Your level of valuing your worth, it is how we think, feel, and act towards the external factors in our life. A person with healthy self esteem does not need external forces like food, sex, drugs, or money to complete his worth. He will understand that he is enough as he is.
Brene Brown’s research pointed heavily to the fact that people with high shame resilience still experience shame in several parts of their life, but they are able to move on. But people with low shame resilience will have difficulty in letting go. Sometimes they will stuck in the same place for quite a while, until something helps them get back their self esteem and tells them that they are enough.
Right now I am listening to another audiobook of Brene’s called “I Thought It Was Just Me.” This book explained in more details about the shame experienced mostly by women. And at the same time I am learning a course from Coursera about Logical Fallacies. Amazingly both of them overlapped in material. As I have been aware of the dangers of lack of critical thinking in our daily life, Brene’s book and Coursera’s course remind me of how critical thinking and critical awareness significantly help us to build our shame resilience.
Now I understand why my main strength is problem solving. It’s like the universe is always providing me the necessary tools for it.