For Beyond 50's "Personal Growth" talks, listen to an interview with
Maryalice Coleman. She'll talk about insidious and hidden shame held by those who have been abused. In America, over 30% of women have suffered abuse as a child. Coleman offers practical tools for survivors to shatter the shame and discover the real person underneath it all. She has helped many move from being a victim to Victor of Circumstances.
Born in the mid-1950, Coleman came from an upper middle class family in Ohio. A middle child among six sisters and one brother, she deeply craved the loving attention of her worn-out, fragile mother who was too busy for her with the daily demands of a large family.
At the age of seven, she woke up at times being groped and molested by an alcoholic predator. This left her with a horrible feeling that she described as "a fiery, molten liquid of shame that had been poured into my psyche."
Being "painfully shy" around others was a form of self-protection a world that can be harsh and mean.
Through self-observation and listening to many women of childhood abuse at her support group meetings, Coleman recognized that the "Three Musketeers of Shame" are hurt, humiliation and pain.
On a subconscious level, fear and shame work well together as cohorts to keep us in the victimization mindset so that we can self-sabotage and encourage false beliefs about ourselves. This is what she calls "living by default."
"The outcome of the default mode of living is usually an indicator of a psyche dominated by the effects of hidden inner shame," taught Coleman. The opposite of this is to live purposefully and with passion about the real you.
The ways shame is exhibited outwardly to cope with the feeling may involve "feelings of humiliation for no reason, being embarrassed and apologetic for just being yourself, and event a false sense of pride or large ego (I refer to it as "defending an empty fort"), extreme shyness, and other symptoms.," she added.
Coleman refers to herself as a "shame buster." According to her, you can release the hurtful wounds. It is through the subconscious level - the world of emotions and primal beliefs imprinted during childhood where the inner work can start.
By allowing shame to be our teacher, you can drop the inner defenses to be more open and move towards self-love and acceptance.
Coleman offers a list of qualities to free yourself from old coping mechanisms operating on a subconscious level:
we extricate that old hidden shame and silent pain that covered us up
for so long, our light, our true essence, begins to shine outward and be
seen by everyone. Oh, what a delightful feeling this is!" she added.