Thanks for posting your story. You stated that you “can’t figure out where things went wrong”. I think it usually is fairly easy to tell what causes a person’s toxic shame. It’s really hard for me to comment on what may have caused your toxic shame because, of course, I haven’t personally witnessed the things that have happened in your life. You’ve listed several things that could be a possible cause but you said you couldn’t pinpoint it. I don’t think toxic shame necessarily has to be caused by ONE single thing. It could be a combination of things that build up to cause a person to feel unworthy, defective, different, unlovable, less than human, etc. So, it possibly can be several things that causes one to live in fear and anxiety (to have toxic shame). Maybe all the things you’ve mentioned came together to combine to cause your shame. Or maybe it was mainly just 1 or 2 of the things you’ve mentioned. It’s hard for me to say.
It’s funny you’ve brought up about how being a “fat kid” and being picked on in school as a possible source of your toxic shame (I don’t mean it’s funny as in “ha-ha”, but you know what I mean). The toxic shame expert John Bradshaw mentioned those very things in his book Healing The Shame That Binds You. He talked about how being overweight can be a source of toxic shame, and he seperately mentioned how being bullied, in general (not necessarily because one is fat) can also cause toxic shame. In regards to the perfectionism you’ve mentioned, Bradshaw talked extensively about that in one of his chapters. So, you can see how it is possible with all those things that they could be the source of one’s toxic shame.
Djp2k10, I noticed you happened to mention your parents. In Dr. Robert Glover’s book No More Mr. Nice Guy he talks about how sometimes a person feels their parents are “perfect” and that they (the person) feels he (or she) can never meaure up to their parents. This could lead to a person feeling unworthy and shameful of himself/herself. He gave a real life example in his book. I think Dr. Glover (or maybe it was John Bradshaw, I can’t remember which one for sure) also talked about how some parents have very high expections of their children, and when the child doesn’t measure up to the parents expectations, the child becomes shameful – which of course could lead to toxic shame. I’m not suggesting that what I wrote in this paragraph is necessarily the case with you, but I’m saying it is a possibility for some people.
I personally think it’s possible some people may be more susceptible than other people, and thus, may be more likely than others to be affected by the various sources of toxic shame that I’ve mentioned in this thread. So, in other words, maybe some people are more likely to be affected and so they are more likely to acquire the condition. We are all different – and live in different environments as well – and so I think it is possible that some people are more susceptible to toxic shame than others. This is just MY theory and I don’t think John Brasdshaw or Dr. Glover (or any other toxic shame author I know of) has mentioned it in there books.
Djp2k10, I agree with you that it was a major breakthrough for you in finding out about SA (and toxic shame) and that it really isn’t your fault. I also think it’s a big step for you in that you interacting with the opposite sex. I think it took courage for you to open up and let this girl know those things that are a part of your life that other people may feel embarrassed to tell another person. It looks like you could be on the right track. I wish you well in your journey to a life free of SA and toxic shame.
Pretty much everything that LifeTimer has said has hit home with me.
For 25 years I've lived with a lot of this toxic shame resulting in never having a lot of good friends and never having a true friend that I felt I could tell anything to. Gone 25 years without feeling truly close to anyone except my mom to a degree. Hell, never even kissed a girl.
I really can't figure out where things went wrong. I feel like my parents were really good to me with the only aside being maybe there was some perfectionism, high expectations, and I was an only child. I know my problems started around age 7 when I became a fat kid and starting having problems being picked on in school. I feel like there had to be more to it but I can't pinpoint it.
Eventually I became relatively comfortable dealing with people in shallow ways but could never, ever expose myself and all the shame in all sorts of parts of my life that snowballed.
Last week I had a major breakthrough, I always had some suspicion that I had SA but never researched it. When I finally broke down and looked at all the evidence it became clear that I'd been living with it and in denial nearly my whole life. I came to this site, started reading a lot and came to a realization that if I was ever going to beat this I'd have to admit to myself that I'd been living with a terrible condition and it isn't my fault. I had to come to terms with the fact that I'm not a "normal person" who is bad and has many flaws, but that I'm a decent person who is living with a socially debilitating disorder.
I was able to come out of the closet so to speak about all this to my mom. I decided that I had to accept who I am and my problems, and if my fate is to live alone and accomplish nothing in life, I had to accept that too. I've tried my best to make up for all the horrible years and love myself.
This last Friday, I happened to get a message on a dating site from a girl who was interested in me and wished to chat. She seemed like a nice person and I decided that I needed to throw caution to the wind and not hide anything about myself. Told her about my SA. I was completely honest with everything she asked including being a virgin and never kissing a girl. She's been a great listener and I've received nothing but empathy and compassion from her and I feel so grateful. She has flaws also and I've been able to relate really well with her. She's been really open to any of my personal questions. We've been constantly talking all weekend and I feel like because I was able to shed my mask with her, it's been truly liberating and cathartic. Now I feel completely comfortable when I talk to her and am free to have fun, flirt, and be myself, and will be seeing her next weekend.