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Tackling Shame: 'Shame's Primary Power Is to Make Us Afraid of Being Vulnerable' -- Part II

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"Shame breeds contempt; vulnerability gives birth to freedom. Freedom is the wellspring of love."

In part one, we delved into one of the specific expressions of pain: shame. Shame's stranglehold on the psyche is an infliction that divides the whole self into two. We built the foundation for tackling shame with the two best weapons: courage as one's strongest ally, granting someone the strength to pierce through any self-deception and vulnerability, the primary bane to shame, emboldening the core character to be open and free to feel and concluding with the simple yet powerful idea that yes, indeed, those tiresome and traumatic, nagging, old wounds can be healed. 

Shame is first and foremost a bully. A big, dumb, albeit deceitful and treacherous, oaf, always looking for an "in" to live your life for you, while living high on the hog feasting on your pain. I will share some ideas, which can be utilized to exorcise the ghost of a prior abuser, confront the varying wounds they left behind and begin to heal the shame they inflicted to stop you from being you.

The basic recipe to heal the fragmented pieces of the scarred self and emerge an empowered, vibrant whole person begins by first reflecting inward and identifying each particular trauma and shame down to its root source. Where did it come from? When do you feel it? Who inflicted it? When did it occur? And why? These are just a sample of what to consider slowly, building an inner map.
 
Now, we move on to the next step of reclaiming oneself: naming the shame. I have to warn you that during this process I tend, for as unusual as it may seem, to have fun with the process. It is arduous and soul-draining enough for anyone who has emerged on the other end of either unresolved abuse or a recent trauma to not find a way to lighten things up. Therefore, there are instances where being a bit tongue and cheek about such deep-rooted issues can strengthen your resolve through the healing process, simultaneously jumpstarting one's transformation from victim to survivor. 

Better to smile at the devil and give him no ground; than frown and let him know he's won.

Now let's name the shame. It's just like when we have nicknames for everything under the sun: close friends and family, co-workers and bosses, Starbucks baristas, and our enemies -- it's time to name one's shame. You can elect to be downright rude in naming your various hurts, more power to you, calling particular painful memories by any number of colorful invectives and pretend to be Alec Baldwin beating a path through the paparazzi, or you can cooly select from the names of your least favorite colors, characters on a reality TV show or particular events involving your mother-in-law. I had one I named after my ex-in-law, "Thanksgiving 2000, with her." The choices are endless. 

All that matters is, for one, to regain control over their pain. If you wish, name it Sandusky after that vile cretan. The point is that shame wields so much power over people that simply naming it something appropriate for you deflates it. You rule your life. Not your shame and definitely not your tormentor.

We can proceed right to the end. We have identified the pain and named it. Now, it is time to claim it and begin taking back your life. 

Someone can confront the root of their trauma directly, show up and knock on their abuser's door, write a letter to them, or a series of them, detailing your feelings, or even a book, as I wrote, "Scarred: A Memoir." Or one can simply sit down over a nice cup of vacuum-brewed coffee and take what you have written and watch all the poison you poured onto paper, your pain and that particular shame, go up in smoke as you light the barbecue grill, stove or favorite cigarette lighter. 

Each has their merits and payoffs. Do not overly concern or berate yourself if you are not ready to face someone just yet, or are not prepared to mail your letters. It is not a problem. Just relax by the makeshift fire and toss in the letters. Watching a particular shame or set of pains go up in smoke will feel like a weight has been lifted. You should feel a release, a sudden surge of freedom, and a refreshing burst of clear, clean energy as regret, remorse and revulsion dissipate into nothing. 

When it happened to me I must have sounded like a crazy man to my neighbors as I ecstatically shouted, "I'm free!"

Attitude is key to healing and kicking your pain in the teeth.

You have taken the first step to reclaiming ownership of yourself, whereby past pains and prior traumas have just lost their foothold. Now, for the very first time in a long time, you are no longer an array of buttons ready to be triggered at anytime by anyone, not even by your own self reflections. You are no longer a collection of strung-together pieces but the assembled parts of a whole human being on a path to being healthy and happy. 

It's time to regain the self and stop being half of a whole. It is time to find happiness and peace with the only person that matters... you. 

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