The First Shame Attack
The first shame attack that I remember was in kindergarten. Today it remains vivid in my mind, more than forty years later.
The schoolroom contained several round wooden tables. Surrounding each table were several child-sized chairs. While I sat working on some type of construction paper project, I reached for a pair of scissors, the kind with the rounded ends, designed to keep little kids from cutting themselves. The teacher told me that I should ask for things to be passed to me, rather than reaching for them.
In that moment, deep inside myself, I felt there was something terribly wrong with me. I was a bad person to have made the mistake of reaching for those scissors. My real self was too bad to let others see. The shame felt overwhelming, although I had no word for the feeling back then.
I would need to hide my real self from the world. I was not good enough.
I was five years old.
Of course, this kindergarten incident wasn't the cause of my shame, but a trigger for it. By age five, I had experienced a solid base of lessons that taught me not to feel the way I did. Not to show or express feelings that my parents didn't like. Not to have independent thoughts or values that differed from my mother's values. I was supposed to feel the way my mother and father wanted me to; my true feelings were somehow wrong.
I carried the feelings of this shame attack with me for days. Decades! My childhood memories are foggy, but that shame attack is clear.
I am grateful to CoDA and the Twelve Steps for my recovery. By attending meetings, by sharing and listening, by working the Steps and developing a relationship with my Higher Power, I have been restored to sanity. Thank you, my codependent friends, for being in those rooms.