Rejection is bad enough, it feels awful. However when it ever it comes around it never comes alone. Rejection brings its unwanted twin siblings shame and contempt. When rejection arrives it delivers its punch, and lets lose the other two holy terrors on my life. What’s worse, after the initial rejection sting…these two stick around for a while. In this crazy train of his addiction, the part that gets me is why do I feel bad? I shouldn’t right? But nonetheless there I am. Turning the rejection inward, and now I am in shame. I am going to say it again, shame is nothing more than rejection turned inward.
I use shame as a way of rejecting myself, and I am really good at it. Since childhood I have lived with I am not good enough. So I then use whatever slight was hurled upon me as a way of justifying the heap of shame I lob my way. I don’t stop there, I then proceed to make my case not only with the current slight, but with every other one from the past. Like a prosecutor presenting a case before a judge and jury…I bring up every failure to be paraded in front of my soul to win my case.
The funny part is, I hate losing. I hate losing with a passion. Even when I am the one at stake, I will take rejection and run with it until all that is left is a shell of the woman I could have been. So not only am I the prosecutor, I am the defendant, the judge, the jury…and ultimately the executioner. The defendant never takes the stand, and judgement is passed quite swiftly and just like that I become the martyr. How twisted is that?
Shame, I believe is what gives rejection it’s true power. With out shame exploiting my own insecurities, his actions or anyone else’s would not have power over me. I wouldn’t buy into the lie that ‘I am not good enough’. There would be no case to present, and no life to destroy.
Shame is the insidious bastard that has ruined my life. It is the one thing that has prevents me from recognizing any story of redemption in my life, and I let it repeat the message ‘I am not good enough’ with a mega phone. I am constantly amazed at how it can hone in on the things I am insecure about the most. It’s like a missile on a seek and destroy mission, whipping through twists and turns until it finds its target, and blows it up for the world to see-or so it feels like it anyway. In order to remain “safe” I isolate. I hide. I distract myself with work, children and victim hood. I wear fear like a piece of armor, and use supposed rational thinking as a defense for not taking risk. All the while shame is having a field day preventing me from experiencing life the way I was meant to. Suddenly I can’t breathe, and I circle back to my failures. How did I let it get that far out of control? More shame.
This addiction, by its very design ruins lives. It uses gorilla warfare tactics and my personal belief is shame is the secret weapon. The operative word here, is secret. I let shame keep and exploit my secrets, it stuns me into silence about all my past failures-real or imagined. I don’t call them out, I tuck them away. I pretend they don’t exist, and I certainly (heaven forbid) don’t forgive myself for them. I don’t name my failures, and learn from them. I use shame to destroy me.
So how do I stop it? The truth is I don’t know. I don’t know if I can-completely. But I can minimize its effect. I can recognize when I am crossing the border from healthy examination to shame. I can bring that shame into the light, and ask a trusted friend to hear my fear/ confession. I can ask forgiveness, and I can use my affirming emotional safety plan to build myself up in the heat of battle. Most importantly I can acknowledge it exists and let grace cover it all.