Shame

Something that continues to challenge me is feeling shame about my physique.

I have battled being overweight since childhood.

I’ve been shamed for it most of my life.

I remember a sitter, we stayed at her house while our dad was at work, she restricted my food. I loved white beans and rice, I wanted seconds, she told me, “You can’t have anymore because you need to lose weight.” She also fed her children different food from us, like real milk for her kids and powdered milk for us. We were treated as lesser.

I felt ashamed and humiliated.

That was the first time anyone said anything to me about being fat.

After that it got worse.

My relatives gave me a shirt as a gift which said, “Fat is Where it’s At.” I really didn’t understand what it meant, but was appreciative of the gift and wore it, my relatives laughed and said, “She’s actually wearing it.” I didn’t know why they were laughing. Now I do.

I remember one time my parent exclaimed, “You’re getting as big as a house!” Very loudly in a public place. Wow, mortifying.

And throughout the years people have felt free to comment on my weight gain and appearance. People whom I barely know, who are only acquaintances even. “You’re looking like a butterball.” Ugh. And if I didn’t wear makeup…”Are you sick?” “You look so tired.” Double ugh.

Being put in pageants. Telling me I need to wear makeup all the time, even at my deli job where I would fry things and sweat, you need to look your best because, “What will people think?”

I remember performing a song titled “I Enjoy Being A Girl” when a child for some recital. The lyrics, omg! Cringe. It feels like we’ve come a long way since that time, but have we really?

There was also the pressure to look more white, we got perms and were encouraged to try and look more “regular.” 

I’ve been enjoying watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It’s fascinating, how women were viewed. I tried watching Mad Men, but I got so angry, only saw a few episodes, it was after Trump was elected, too much for me to handle, lmao!

Has the objectification of women really changed since then or has it just been more on the down low and spun a different way? Like we’re supposedly sexually empowered, we’re able to be sexual with less shaming, but on whose terms? Since  porn is so ubiquitous it’s expected that’s how women are in real life.

And there’s so much focus on physical appearance and it’s a giant industry still mostly marketed to women. Frankly I find it overwhelming and exhausting and intentionally try and avoid all the beauty/fashion/plastic surgery stuff. It’s depressing to me.

All this focus on physical appearance when that’s the least of our worries.

Why does it still bother me, I should be used to it by now. Some things I can’t adapt to because I’m not supposed to. It’s not logical to accept harm.

Our hearts know the truth and no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves that it’ll have to be okay…there’s always that insistent loving inner voice that never sleeps telling us, sometimes in barely a whisper what’s loving and right.

So I keep at it. Listening to that logical heart and following what’s most loving. 

But a big part of me feels ashamed more often than I want to admit. And I’ve worked really hard at overcoming it, but it still gets me. I am hard on myself. I try not to be, but I am.

Authoritarianism promotes shame.

The way I was disciplined, criticized, shamed and belittled as a child, verbal threats, yelling, name calling, spanking, actual physical abuse that left bruises in the shape of hand prints, being slapped in the face and pushed on the ground, plus the other consequences such as grounding, taking away privileges…how effective were they? Actually, I never did anything that horrible for any of the treatment I received. It really wasn’t about me. It was about the past and repeating it.

In my experience punishment only made things worse, not better? Dirty looks of judgement, verbal abuse, does it really help? Violence never helps anything ever.

Being judgmental, looking down upon another with contempt and condemnation, outright shaming and guilt tripping? Don’t see that as helpful either. Lots of religions seem to favor all that. That’s why I steer clear of religion. Spirituality though, that’s what we need more of… unity, empathy, compassion, oneness, LOVE. 

Aren’t there more loving and effective ways to communicate and cooperate?

We are all capable of behaving in a nonviolent, respectful manner, barring legit neurological or psychiatric issues. Children are able to be reasoned with at their appropriate developmental level, there is no need for shaming, punishment or violence. Parents typically don’t educate themselves though on what’s developmentally appropriate and give little thought or concern to parenting. They just do whatever their parents did, yikes!

There’s also the shame that’s even harder to face and talk about.

Abuse in all its myriad forms.

The stuff that everyone skirts around because it feels too bad and shocking. Or even worse, maybe some aren’t even consciously aware that it’s abuse? Yet, how are things ever going to improve if we keep it hidden in the shadows. If we keep making excuses, denying and minimizing. If we hide because we don’t want to deal with it, it’s just too much? Or we believe that we have to protect everyone’s privacy?

How is anything going to change for the better if we’re controlled by stigma and shame?

Imagine if everyone shared their stories and struggles, then we would become more conscious and aware of our universal mistakes that need correction.

We could have open conversations while empathizing and supporting everyone.   

Get help for everyone, heal everyone, correct the problems at their roots.

Everyone could then begin to address the situations that cause shame and possibly correct our repetitive cycles of mistakes, drama and trauma.

Maybe we could realize that there’s nothing to be ashamed of, that there are mistakes which can be corrected with willingness, consciousness, forgiveness and love.

If everyone were more honest, vulnerably courageous and we talked about what we are ashamed of, then we’d see that we all go through adversity, make mistakes,  that it’s a universal condition.

But it’s personal and private. We don’t tell our “business.”  

Why not?  It is the only way we can get better individually and as a society. 

The hard honest truth has to be fully realized, examined and addressed before corrections can begin. It’s the only way to begin the path of healing. 

Why do we hide? 

Because we don’t want to make others feel bad or uncomfortable? We want to keep doing what we’re doing, we’re addicted or codependent? Or we’re afraid of being judged? Stigma, shame, embarrassment, guilt? We have to protect other’s wishes instead of honoring the truth? We have to keep quiet to keep the peace? We have to pretend that it’s okay? We have to protect other’s privacy above all? Where are the boundaries? Don’t we all have equal rights when it comes to the truth? Or we don’t want to deal with it because it’s too hard?

Is it really easier being controlled by shame and fear?

It may take the right circumstances and timing to be able to honor the truth. Sometimes the trauma is too much so it’s best to heal at a safe pace, always. Truth is healing though.

Feeling remorse is natural after making harmful mistakes, that’s what distinguishes psychologically healthy people from sociopaths. What about accountability and responsibility? What about preventing the perpetuation of abuse? 

When we stay quiet nothing gets solved. And we allow the damage to continue.

At least if we speak up there’s a chance that things can get better.

If instead of shame and punitiveness, there could be compassion, correction, education, treatment and healing, how would that be? 

None of this can happen though if we remain silent, ashamed and afraid.

 Maybe if we ignore it and keep quiet about it, it will disappear? If we ignore it and don’t talk about it, it’s safer, we don’t have to deal with it? 

Is that really true though? 

It’s still there. Somewhere we’re living the consequences whether we realize it or not.

Does it really help to keep quiet?

I believe keeping quiet maintains the status quo and we keep living the same bullshit again and again. We try and run away, but instead we’re keeping the same systems in place, by staying silent. Being controlled by shame and fear.

Understandably there’s risk when speaking the truth within established systems of power and control. There is a real risk of retribution. In those instances it’s understandable why we keep silent. We don’t want to be harmed.

But what if we all begin telling it like it is. Maybe there would be power in numbers as they say. We would feel more at ease speaking the truth because it is now normal and acceptable to be honest. We no longer would be shamed into silence. We could then create more rapid change, ending abusive cycles and systems of oppression.

Shame would not stand a chance. 

Truth is healing. 

I believe we can make things better, that it’s our responsibility to create a more loving world while we’re here.

I’m trying to figure out how best to do just that.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of, we’re all in this together and we all deserve the highest love and compassion.

We can all change for the better.

My hope is that more people will feel better about themselves and do what’s most loving of themselves.

The more we share, the more we know that we’re not alone.  Less shame, more LOVE! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michelle Miyagi
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