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Healing SHAME & SEPARATENESS - a personal story

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  • Michael Meredith
    BACKGROUND: In the Christian calendar, today, Shrove Tuesday, is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (tomorrow) which is the first day of Lent. Shrove Tuesday is
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 28, 2006
      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
      for us.


      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.


      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
      (see http://www.lovehealth.org/tools/catharsis.htm)
      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
      study "Homecoming":

      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"!
      Be Saved!
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