Are you doing a walk of shame through divorce? A walk of shame is typically associated with a one-night stand, but the shame can originate from any aspect of ourselves that we don’t like. It’s very easy to direct these feelings away from us by blaming someone or something outside of us for “making” us feel that way, in this case, our ex. Shame is an emotion that tells us we are bad or wrong, and it makes us want to “hide under the covers” and avoid being seen.
I’m here to help you reclaim your life and power from the divorce process. Let go of the shame.
Register below for my free, upcoming, online class.
Divorce Is Hard
Divorce can be a very difficult process, and it can be easy to feel ashamed during or after the process. Relationships are complicated and they have a way of bringing up all sorts of triggers, often subconscious beliefs about who we are and what we deserve. So, when life throws us a curve ball and we end up in the divorce arena, these harmful beliefs are magnified. The spotlight feels like it’s upon us and laser focused.
Shame Can Take Two Directions
It’s very easy after divorce to fall into a shameful, victim state of consciousness, where we do one of two things.
- We place the blame mostly on our spouse because to take personal responsibility feels too harsh and painful. We may think, “It’s their narcissistic, abusive, gaslighting tendencies that are to blame for the demise of this marriage.” And I’m not saying that these accusations aren’t justified. But…there is also something about US that contributed to the way in which we related to this person and has to do with why we chose them in the first place.
- We may place all of the blame on ourselves and think we are so pitiful and the divorce is all of our fault. Intense feelings of shame occur: “What is wrong with me? Why did they leave me?”, “I’m such a loser that I had the affair. I lost the only good thing in my life”, and “I am so selfish that all I think about is ME.” And on and on these self-recriminating thoughts go.
Why IS The Marriage Dissolving?
Let’s take a deeper look at WHY the marriage is dissolving or dissolved. Regardless of who wanted the divorce, ask yourself these questions. And remember, we do what we know to do at the time. These questions are NOT meant to instill more shame or guilt, but simply more awareness.
- Did I feel safe to be myself in this marriage, or was I constantly hiding my true thoughts and feelings?
- Did I ask for my needs to be met, or did I allow myself to be a doormat?
- Was I regularly playing the peacekeeper, being the sacrificial martyr?
- Did I regularly take over-responsibility for my spouse and kids?
- Did I try to control things excessively and felt anxious when things didn’t go as I planned?
It’s important to remember that there is no single cause for divorce, and both parties typically share responsibility for the end of the marriage.
MY Story of Shame Through Divorce and its Long-Term Impact
When I got divorced back in 1998, I gave away custody of my 2-year-old daughter, Maddie, to her dad because I felt guilty for wanting out of the marriage. I lived with this shame for many, many years, even after Maddie moved in with me 11 years later.
Tragically, I lost my daughter in October 2018 to cystic fibrosis, and I wasn’t able to make this decision up to her any longer. For more of my story, see this blog–Part I. And see Part II here.
I’ve discovered as of late to what extent I’ve played the Controller and Victim roles. I just began this 6-week program called Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine, where we identify 9 different saboteurs, two of which are Controller and Victim.
My top saboteur is Controller and the second is Victim. It might be somewhat embarrassing to identify with either of these, especially the Victim. The EGO mind hates these labels. It’s just a role; it’s not who I truly am. And these roles aren’t who you truly are either.
How are you going through divorce, doing the walk of shame?
HOW The Shame Began
These types of behaviors typically result when we have early life experiences where we are forced to grow up fast, be on our own, and take charge of our chaotic or dangerous surroundings in order to survive physically and/or emotionally. It is also associated with being hurt, rejected, or betrayed and deciding never to be that vulnerable again.
Further, we can learn to feel like a victim if we grew up feeling unseen and unaccepted, coming to believe that something is especially wrong with us. Playing the victim can serve us to get attention and affection, when we don’t know how to ask for what we need.
During and after a divorce, it’s normal to feel many different emotions, especially shame and guilt. It’s important to remember that these feelings are normal, and that you’re not alone.
Shirzad has worked with hundreds if not thousands of people who are extremely successful, and yet he’s not met one person who doesn’t feel insecure and ashamed of themselves on some level.
My Victim and Controller Contribute to the Shame
For me, the Victim and Controller consciousness are like cousins. They play together really well and tag team me, telling me messages like I’m not good enough and never will be. They have conversations that feed right into each other and rob me of happiness, peace and relaxation.
My Slave Master
Controller (I call mine Slave Master—sorry if this term offends you; it aptly describes how I feel, like my controller absolutely has a strangle hold on my freedom to choose what I want in life. She is hyper critical of me and would drive me to the point of exhaustion if she had her way. She has me work when I should prioritize my family):
The Inner Chatter: “You need to work, Angie. You don’t have time to spend with your family, because you need to earn a living. They rely on you. Maddie is gone and you can’t make it up to her anymore. You might as well work. You don’t have time to relax and he happy NOW. That’s ridiculous spiritual jargon. You need to work harder. What’s wrong with you that you aren’t further along. You must stay in control at all costs…”
My Poor Me
Victim (I call mine Poor Me—she feels very sorry for herself. Life is happening TO her. It took her daughter at 22 years old. Life attacks and derails her. She is very dramatic and likes to pout and throw minor, angry tantrums. She resists like the plague taking personal responsibility for anything that happens.):
The Inner Chatter: “OMG! Life is so unfair! It’s a disaster waiting to happen. The other shoe could drop at any moment, like it did with Maddie. For as hard as you work, you deserve more than this. You should just throw in the towel. Give up. Why bother! There are too many forces working against you in life that don’t want you to succeed and be happy.”
My Higher Self
Fortunately, we all have a Higher Self that is much wiser than all of these Saboteur parts. Shirzad calls it the Inner Sage. This wiser part of us can help us move through the divorce shame and guilt with ease, like knife cutting through butter.
Wise Self (I call mine Higher Self. She’s not worried about any of this stuff happening around her in life. She’s cool with all emotions, circumstances, people, places and things. She knows she is always supported no matter what appearances tell her. She has a strong faith in the process of life and knows that all is unfolding according to how it is supposed to).
The Still, Small Voice: “Angie, it’s OK. The human experience is meant to be hard. You are meant to forget who you really are. Yes, Poor Me is throwing her tantrums, feeling sorry for herself, making you feel separate from others.
Slavemaster is trying to convince you that you have to control everyone and everything to be safe. She would also persuade you that you can never relax and be happy until you complete your mile long to-do list. You have to have certain conditions ticked off of that list before you can deem yourself worthy and successful enough to relax. She is from the generation of MORE, MORE and still MORE, and she will keep you on the hamster wheel of life.
So what? What if you just observed their insane behaviors and turned down their volume and listened to me more?
The time to be happy is NOW, not when you “get things figured out,” as you like to say. You are worthy NOW of happiness, not from a place of entitlement, but from a place of observing with neutrality and non-resistance all that LIFE is. Life is sacred awe when you think about the miracles unfolding every moment, like you having a body? You have a body but you are not the body. How is this unfair?
Are you really a Victim? Are you really a Controller? Are you really in shame? NO! You are an infinite spiritual being having a physical, human experience. All is well. Relax, trust, breathe and receive your well-being.”
Everyone Has a Saboteur and Feels Shame
I share my story to remind us, that no matter how successful and accomplished we are in life, we also have saboteur parts who would convince us to stay in the walk of shame through divorce, that we are flawed and defective.
Our saboteurs would convince us to keep pointing fingers at our ex during the divorce, that it is all their fault and to not take personal responsibility.
What if We Could Escape the Shame/Blame Game
But is either course of action, shaming/blaming ourselves OR them, productive? What if instead we took personal responsibility without harsh self-judgment and let the shame/blame go?
This is not an easy process, and my bias is that we need to feel safe and supported to move through the walk of shame of divorce.
Register below for the upcoming “3 Secrets to Survive the Stress of Divorce: Helping Women Get Their Lives Back!”
Getting divorced can bring up a lot of shame that we aren’t good enough and we don’t deserve a happier future. We have these saboteur parts who spew us messages 24/7 that will keep us feeling like a victim to divorce and life until we begin to access our wiser self’s voice more often.
By turning down the volume of our shameful and blaming parts, and turning up the volume of our Higher Self, we can reclaim our power from the divorce process and the shameful voice that will try to sabotage us. The time to be happy is NOW not later when everything gets figured out.
Holistic Divorce/Loss Coach