Toxic shame is a feeling of worthlessness, being exposed, embarrassed or ashamed. In a shame attack we are blushing, hot and cannot bear to look anyone in the eyes. Time seems to creep ever so slowly. We wish we could find a hole in the floor to disappear into. A shame attack or shame spiral is an excruciatingly painful experience for anyone. Shame is rocket fuel in the development of addiction and once addicts discover the mood altering power of their addictive behaviour they avoid shameful feelings like the plague.
Toxic shaming begins early in life. A child not given the required time, positive attention or not having basic needs met leaves the child feeling unimportant and worth less. Any event or series of events whether by neglect or uncontrollable life circumstances can result in toxic shame. Shaming statements that reinforce are being told you’re ugly, greedy, fat, lazy, slow, dumb, you make me sick, you disgust me, you’re a pig, you always drop things, break things, screw up, spill things, lie, steal, cheat, You cant be trusted, you’re not talented enough, you can’t do that like so and so, you’re uncoordinated, What’s wrong with you, Why can’t you be like the others, why do you have to be so stupid, you’re an embarrassment, he’s a bad kid, she’s a slut, a loser, a whore, This leads to self talk like I’m so stupid, I’ll never get this, I don’t deserve that, If I were a real man, If I were a real woman, If I were a better kid, husband, wife, daughter,
HURT PEOPLE…HURT PEOPLE We need to heal our hurt or we pass it on.
Denial and Shame
Toxic shame keeps us from owning and accepting our addictions. Toxic shame fosters false pride, which prevents us from looking for or accepting help. Healthy shame allows us to be human and accept help. We want to provide a safe and welcoming environment for people to work on the toxic shame. One of the ways we deal with toxic shame in our recovery program is using the 12steps. We encourage twelve-step participation for both the addict and codependent enablers.