How Blame, Guilt and Shame get Misapplied to SelfBy
The belief system that I am constantly speaking of does not form all at once or form completely from one event. This is where it gets complicated. Other events factor into it, some of them normal healthy childhood events that may have familiar feelings attached to them, and it is really easy to lump them all together.
When a child is devalued, abused, or discounted, it is a matter of necessity, (survival) to build an understanding or comprehension, and that comprehension becomes like a filter that we look through. Child sexual abuse, being put down, called a liar, made fun of and ignored, and being physically harmed all became part of my history and the way that I processed that history became part of this “grid or filter” that I viewed all events through.
Being ignored on the playground at school brought up familiar feelings of rejection. My mind searched through my history for a reason that I had been rejected, and quickly related it to the feelings surrounding a trauma event. (Continued….) Imagine sneaking a cookie from the cookie jar and getting caught. Maybe a stern reprimand was issued. Maybe you felt ashamed and the shame felt like the other shame from the trauma event. They felt similar. The shame and guilt was familiar and this time they actually applied. Angry labels like “sneak”: and “thief” were applied and accepted and we hung our heads. If we denied taking the cookie in the first place the label liar was also added and it was easy to take that “regular childhood cookie sneaking event” and add it to the “proof” that the guilt and shame from actual trauma events was also deserved.
I have a really significant memory of a time when I got “caught” doing something naughty and shameful. I still remember the feelings of shame that I felt that day. I was not often allowed to have a friend over, and on this day my best friend was not only allowed to play at my house, INSIDE the house, but we were going to bake cupcakes. This was a very special day. My friend brought her easy bake oven with her and we were happily baking cupcakes. We decided to make cupcakes in the big oven and I felt all grown up putting the icing on them when they had cooled down. We each got one, and there were cupcakes for my brothers too. I do not know why I did this, but I took a bite out of my brother’s cup cake and tried to cover the missing bite with extra icing. I got caught. My mother was very angry with me, and my friend got sent home. I got a spanking and sent to my room. I had ruined our special day and everything had been going so well. I felt the guilt and shame of that day for years and years. It is one of my clearest childhood memories and in later years I often wondered about the significance of that day and why it has stuck with me for so long, as if it was the most horrible thing that I could have ever done, so I could not put behind me.
Today I believe that the significance of the cupcake day was that that was the day that I accepted all the guilt, shame and blame for most if not all of the trauma events that had ever happened to me, and would ever happen to me. It was just a little trigger day. I was deeply ashamed, (which I understand) but I linked it to the other events that were abusive to me. I connected it to the feelings of shame and guilt that I had about being neglected and traumatized, giving equal weight and putting them on a parallel scale with this time that I really did do something wrong, not realizing that there was a difference between the guilt and shame that belonged to me, and the guilt and shame that didn’t belong to me.
The “bad feelings” felt so similar that I added them to the grid or filter that I’d developed to measure and analyse things through and came up with the wrong conclusions; that the trauma events of being sexually abused were as equally shameful and guilt filled as the day that I took that bite out of my brother’s cupcake and tried to hide it.
Other fairly normal innocent childhood “mistakes” got added to that increasingly confusing recipe and they all blended together to form my false belief system. A false belief system that I never considered was false, but thought all along was the truth about me.
How does this post strike you? Does it make sense that a false belief system can form this way? Do you see how a childhood “mistake” could be the proof that we use to take the blame and shame for things that really are not our faults? Please feel free to share.
Another Snapshot on the Journey to Wholeness
Related Posts ~ How One Truama Led to Several False Beleifs