2022.01.01 Journal

* Day four of journaling about Shame/Humiliation/Misery
** Do research on the internet about humiliation
** Reread the chapter I’m on with yoga

* Meditation – Day 663
* Yoga – Day 5
* Journaling – Day 6

Reflections:: I stayed in last night rather than go out and interact with others for New Years. Felt good. Woke up at 4:45 am to some Happy New Years text messages, replied, and fell back asleep. Woke up for real around 7am, did my AM yoga and meditation. Was fairly distracted today, so I’ll reread the chapter I’m on to reinvigorate my motivation. I’m happy with how my diet has been now that I’m in a place with a stove where I can cook again. My diet yesterday and the day before has been: the same vegetarian stew from the survival course, frozen berries, and clementines. There was a period of time yesterday in the evening when I craved some sort of baked good or more unhealthful dessert. I just went upstairs and passed out instead.

Yesterday I did some research on shame and saw different ways of looking at it to go deeper. The Wikipedia article is pretty good here. The psychologist Joseph Burgo breaks shame into four aspects/ paradigms.

  • Unrequited Love – especially from partners and parents
  • Unwanted exposure – when you’re called out for doing something wrong or that you didn’t want others to see
  • Disappointed expectation – like not passing a class, having a friendship go wrong, or not getting a promotion you were anticipating
  • Exclusion/ being left out – happens all the time at school, work, friendships, relationships, everywhere.

Separate from any of those, and covered in the wider article is the concept of a deeper shame, the idea that you are just wrong or broken in a deep-rooted way.

As I type those out, various memories pop into mind.

  • Unrequited love
    • Most obvious here would be from my biological father. I met him a few times, but even more often than that, he’d say he was going to come, my mom would get me and my sister excited about him coming, and then he’d either stand us up or show up later than he said he would when it was too late to spend time with us, have sex with our mom, and then leave. At the time, I’m sure my sister and I both took it personally. My sister was more forgiving and patient than I was as a child. Even as adults, she gave him a shot at being in her life, whereas I have not spoken with him since I was 12. In retrospect, I was emotionally weaker despite being older – the pain of constant rejection was too much. And simultaneously more likely to jump to a practical conclusion. I have memories of having our faces pressed against the cold window while it was dark out during winter, looking out at the courtyard competing to see him first. We both lost that game. There was a time when he said he would stop coming to our house because his car got stolen visiting us. We lived in a rough neighborhood. And he drove a Cadillac. Now that I’m 38, I can fully see that if I had children living in a place that was so dangerous I was afraid to visit it, I would figure out how to move them to a better neighborhood. That he was self-centered enough to be driving a car that was a status symbol at the time while his children lived on welfare is a mindset that is difficult for me to empathize with, but which I want to understand. As all humans are more similar than we are different, and I’m sure that there are parallels between how he acted and how I currently act that I’m denying because it’s painful to see my father in myself.
  • Deeper shame
    • The above makes me think about “deeper shame.” There was a lot of shame that came out of that family situation. My mother was raising us on public assistance, without our father’s name listed on our birth certificates. Whenever she was asked who the biological father was, she lied to the asking doctors or social workers and said there was no way of getting in touch with him. And by extension, see that we couldn’t tell our teachers at school that we knew who he was also – because if we did we could lose our benefits and for lying to the government my mom told us the government could take us away from each other and she could go to jail. So as part of getting ready for school – before even going into kindergarten, we were told to lie to our teachers and classmates, and deny who our father was. My sister felt comfortable taking pride in being half Dominican/ half Italian. I always denied the Italian part, and actively denied that part of myself. When I was in middle school and high school, and my friends’ parents would innocently inquire about who my father was and what he did, I’d tell them he wasn’t in the picture. But given that I had a sister born when I was 13, they quickly figured out that didn’t add up and I’d feel shame/ try to change the subject. Looking back on things, I’m seeing that I felt lots of shame around my family situation. This was all in the backdrop of the Clinton administration, which slashed budgets for public assistance benefits programs to get rid of people they argued were coasting by on the system. As a kid who can first remember being teased by others for being on public assistance when he was 8, it would be natural to feel shame. My perspective now is a bit different. I look up to my mom for raising three kids under those circumstances. And as embarrassed as I may have felt, I get overwhelmed attempting to imagine what she was feeling and went through. That my sisters and I are living the sorts of lives we are – having grown up in that environment – speaks to her strength in a big way.
    • Random flashback: I remember now being around 7 years old, standing in the kitchen, feeling like my mom’s life would be better if she didn’t have to take care of me so she could finish school, grabbing a knife, and thinking about killing myself. I obviously did not follow through with that. But it’s an aspect of how I saw and felt shame at that time in my life.
    • Random flashback: I remember a time playing cards with my father one of the times he came and visited. We were in the one-bedroom apartment my mom lived in before we moved to the two bedroom apartment in the building over. So I must have been six or seven years old at the time. I was pretty “good” at playing cards because I would take the cards I wanted when other people weren’t looking. He caught me cheating and punched me in the back. We never played cards again.
    • I’m getting random flashbacks to other things, but want to refocus my energy on shame.
  • Unrequited Love
    • This is a very interesting one to me, because as I think back, I can see that the people I had strong feelings for generally were interested in me also, but I shut down the relationships before they got deep, or projected that someone wasn’t into me. It makes me sad to think about, for that younger version of me. It’s interesting to see how that version of me kept secrets, and didn’t understand the depths to which he found himself unlovable. I remember dating someone as a 15 year old, going to her house, and being nervous about potentially meeting her parents. Because what if they asked about my family situation? I broke up with her the following week. I remember having a crush on someone, her liking me back, and then hooking up with other people anyways and sabotaging the possibility of her taking me seriously. And then her being willing to hang out with me again, and me being late and her saying she wouldn’t wait. Fascinating how charged with misunderstood emotions our teenage years are.
  • Disappointed expectation
    • I remember being disappointed at not winning student body president in 5th grade. Not doing well in math in algebra 2/ trigonometry. Not getting into MIT.
  • Exclusion/ being left out
    • I recall feeling disappointed that I wasn’t invited to various birthday parties, bar mitzvah’s, house parties, etc. It certainly occurred. And at the same time I was invited to lots of birthday parties, bar mitzvah’s, house parties, etc. Feels like I’m reaching here. Or – more likely after reading my answers to the past two segments and realizing I missed the paradigm of “unwanted exposure” – it’s possible that I’m just emotionally tired after writing the above. So I’ll stop for now and revisit these topics at some point in the future.

It’s 9:22am. So I’ve been writing/ processing things the past hour and fifteen minutes or so.

Reflections:: 9:43. I just read more articles and particularly liked this one.

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