Healing SHAME & SEPARATENESS - a personal story
In the Christian calendar, today, Shrove Tuesday, is the Tuesday
before Ash Wednesday (tomorrow) which is the first day of Lent.
Shrove Tuesday is traditionally a day of penitence - to cleanse the
soul! - but also a day of celebration ("pancake day") as the last
chance to feast before Lent begins.
As you may know, the name "Shrove Tuesday" comes from the ancient
Christians ritual of "shriving" - in which you confess your sins to
a priest and receive absolution for them.
In anticipation of the 40 days of giving up rich (treat) foods (e.g.
meat, fish, fat, eggs, milk) during the abstinence period of Lent,
people ate all the foods that would not keep until Lent was over,
hence the making of pancakes. In France, this day of eating up all
fat in the larder became known as "Mardi Gras" - "Fat Tuesday".
Confession (releasing guilt and shame) is of course an important
aspect of healing ourselves, so even if we are not Christian, there
can be benefit in allowing Shrove Tuesday to trigger some healing
SELF-AWARENESS OF SHAME & SEPARATENESS ISSUES
The steps in my personal healing have often been triggered by dreams
which "dramatise" a current problem I am ignoring...
Last night I had a dream in which I felt lonely and separate from
other people, even though in the dream, we were all in a group in
the same place with activities going on.
I recognised this as a recurring dream and life theme - a feeling
of "not belonging" or "separateness" in certain situations.
In the middle of the night, I was not able to progress this beyond
recognising that a sense of personal shame or inadequacy lay behind
the feeling of being different or separate.
This morning I was about to reach for a cup of my only remaining hot
beverage addiction (having given up coffee and black tea some time
ago) i.e. a cup of Earl Grey green tea. As you may know, Earl Grey
is flavoured with the natural anti-depressant oil, Bergamot, and I
am concerned about the amount I drink because Bergamot is
potentially carcinogenic if consumed to excess.
I was aware of a momentary drop in my energy
(heaviness/weariness/depression) as I felt the urge to have a cup of
this tea, so - in the light of my warning dream, plus today being
Shrove Tuesday! - I decided to forgo the tea and spend time instead
(consciously breathe and meditate) with my "energy drop" feeling.
HEALING SHAME & SEPARATENESS
I soon encountered a good batch of angry, destructive feelings, with
no particular target or focus - just the world/people in general.
Breathing down through these, I found, as usually happens, much more
vulnerable feelings underlying. There was quite a lot of tears and
emotion (largely centred around "self-pity" I have to say!) to
As usual this catharsis led to a much stiller and more centred state
of mind, body and feeling
but I was determined to get to the root of where these feelings were
coming from, so I used the intuitive self-interrogation technique,
which is described so well in "Healing Our Heartbreaks"
Out of this came the information that the roots of my sense
of "shame and separateness" lay in a nursery school incident when I
was aged 3.
In this connection it is of interest that I have been spending time
recently with a baby and I have been very struck by the baby's
steadiness of "eye to eye" gaze - in other words this child is too
young to have yet developed a sense of personal shame or
Unskilful parents/teachers often of course don't clearly communicate
to a child that just its behaviour is unacceptable, as opposed to
the child as a whole being intrinsically "bad" or "naughty"
or "stupid". This type of unskilfulness can create a growing sense
of personal shame or inadequacy.
John Bradshaw documents this well in his classic inner child work
Re-visiting my childhood trauma I discovered that it was an incident
in which I did something foolish and, prompted by the teacher, the
whole class laughed at me. Not only was this humiliating incident
the birth of a sense of personal inadequacy, but also I was able to
connect with the deep feelings of outrage that it engendered towards
the class/teacher/entire world! This internalised rage (I felt too
disempowered to express it at the time) that created a "mindtalk" of
dislike and separateness from my classmates.
Re-visiting this childhood memory, releasing the "emotional charge"
on it, adding a mature adult perspective and understanding, has
resulted in the "correction" of this early life "cognitive error"
which had set up a continuing pattern reverberating in my life. The
healing power of this "shriving" (forgiving myself and them) journey
was revealed in the warm sense of enhanced love and connection which
flowed as my old memory was "re-created" in the light of the more
mature perspective I have now been able to add to it - plus I have
recaptured some "lost" positive memories of that very formative time
in my life.
Incidentally I empowered the healing environment (facilitated the
catharsis) for doing the healing journey described above by lighting
a candle, dimming the lights, and playing several times over a
couple of beautiful uplifting "angelic voices" tracks from the new
Medieval Babes album which also forms the background music to the TV
drama series "The Virgin Queen".
One of the tracks is based on a poem Elizabeth I wrote, expressing
her own shame and depression at having to be "2-faced" about her
love for someone.
The other track is based on a Latin 13th century hymn "Dies Irae"
meaning "Day of Wrath" (Day of God's Judgment!) and ends with the
words "Be Saved!!"
Have a great day and good luck with your own "shriving"!