A Life Changing Experience Taught Me About Toxic Shame

Last Friday, something terrible happened to me.  During the day, I had my fireplace going, as I do most every day during the cold weather.  Friday though, something was different.  I ended up with carbon monoxide poisoning from the fire.  It was bad enough that not only do I not remember most of Friday, but at one point I passed out & hit my head bad enough to require staples & leave a trail of blood through my home.  Thank God that the furkids & I are OK & hubby was at work!  This could’ve killed us! I don’t even remember calling hubby, but I’m glad I did. It had to be God helping me to survive, me making that call.  Hubby called 911, they cleared the smoke out of the house & promptly took me to the ER.

One aspect of this entire terrifying situation that has been bothering me is that not only did I not want help, I didn’t expect any help.  Why didn’t I expect help?!  At the very least from the hospital staff- that’s why they’re there!  According to hubby though, I called just to gripe about the fireplace smoke & how I couldn’t get it to clear out of the house. (If you have a fireplace, you know things can get a little smokey sometimes, but this was well above & beyond that)  He said I was mostly incoherent, then said something about wondering where all that blood came from, which scared him enough to call 911.  Apparently I yelled at him not to do that, because I didn’t want to create some expensive medical bills.  Also while at the hospital, I was stunned when people were offering to do things for me.  And, since I’ve been home, I’ve been feeling incredibly guilty that hubby has been taking such good care of me & cleaning the house.

These things keep going through my mind & I’ve been wondering what is wrong with me about not expecting any help from anyone?  Then last night, I was reading Pete Walker’s book on complex trauma & my answer practically leaped off the page.  He was discussing how being emotionally neglected as a child can turn to fear, which can lead to toxic shame, which can lead to not asking for or expecting help, even as an adult.  This made perfect sense to me!  If you feel such toxic shame, you’re ashamed of who you are & everything about you- why would you think anyone could care enough to help you no matter what your needs?   Also, growing up, I knew I was my own responsibility.  I wasn’t to bother my mother with my “petty” problems.  She has complained for years about mothers day in 1986 when she was forced to take care of my father who had recently injured his back & me because I was on crutches with a bad foot.  It was such a bad day for her.  Her, not my father who could barely move, or me hobbling around on crutches.  For a long time, I felt so guilty for “bothering” her in that way.  I also felt guilty for upsetting her by getting a scalp laceration when I was 5 because she told me how hard it was on her when I got the stitches in my head.  I’m sure these things also helped to cement in the toxic shame.

Can you relate?  Have there been times that you have needed help & were shocked someone cared enough to help you?  Or, do you have a very hard time asking for help?  If so, please know that you’re not crazy & you’re not alone!  It’s just one more problem resulting from being raised by a narcissistic parent.

So how to deal with toxic shame.. that I’m still working on. I hadn’t realized how deeply it ran in me, so obviously I haven’t worked on it.  I’m going to share some of the things I think God wants me to do to help this problem, & maybe it will help you too.

As soon as I got home from the hospital, my husband started pushing me about sharing my feelings more with him.  I’ve never wanted to “bother” him with my feelings or when the C-PTSD flares up, because he has enough going on without my “petty” problems.  I honestly thought this was good, but apparently not.  Coming so close to losing me shook him up.  He realized he wants to know more of what’s happening with me & help me when possible.  This may be a good thing, I’m thinking.  Talking about things brings them into the light & they loosen their power.  Kind of like the old legends of vampires- in the dark, they were mighty, but in the light, they died.

I also had to realize that I had a problem.  If you don’t know something is wrong, you can’t fix it, right?  So once I realized something was wrong I asked God to show me what it was, & He led me to read about toxic shame.  Now that I know what is wrong, I can work on fixing the problem.

I’m forcing myself to step outside of my comfort zone.  At first, I was humiliated about getting sick.  I told my husband to tell no one, especially my parents, about this.  For some reason though, I felt God wanted me to open up about it (not to my parents- they’d just turn it around to how it affects them & I can’t handle that right now).   I didn’t tell anyone about it for 24 hours, then I started by telling one of my best friends via email.  The next day I shared the story in my facebook group.  Both my friend & the members of my group have been nothing but caring, loving & supportive.  This helped me to loosen the shame of this incident that doesn’t belong there.  (Posting this story in my blog is really, really stepping outside my comfort zone, so if this helps you, please let me know!  It’d help me a great deal to know that!  Thank you!!)

I’m also trying to address shaming beliefs.  With this incident, I’ve asked myself why was I ashamed of it?  Why did I blame myself?  I did nothing wrong, so why the shame?  I believe it stems from being a child, & my narcissistic mother saying how hard it was for her to take care of me when I was sick or injured.  That set up a belief in me that I shouldn’t inconvenience people with my sickness or injuries.

I hope this helps you, Dear Reader.  No one should live with toxic shame.  It’s a horrible way to feel, ashamed of so much about yourself.  You deserve so much better than that!  You are a good, wonderful person who should be proud of who you are!  xoxo


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

7 responses to “A Life Changing Experience Taught Me About Toxic Shame

  1. m

    Thank you for sharing this. I had an incident a few weeks ago that brought out a lingering, unresolved issue from my teens where I felt like there was no help for me. Unfortunately I may have irreparably harmed a friendship with my reaction. Fortunately I have a 12-step sponsor who’s a retired therapist and she got me back on track pretty fast.


  2. I have a sort of perpetual sense of shame going on. I finally brought it up to my therapist last week, and now I have to figure out what to do about it. She insists I have it for things that are not my fault, too. But I cannot believe that. Surely I am culpable, somehow. I am in there, too.


  3. Pingback: Emotional Neglect & Critical Words | CynthiaBaileyRug

  4. Pingback: Toxic Shame Resulting From Narcissistic Abuse- There Is A Way Out! | CynthiaBaileyRug

  5. Pingback: Toxic Shame Resulting From Narcissistic Abuse- There Is A Way Out! | Christians Anonymous

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