Culture of Shame

I had a long discussion with a guy from the State Department (recently returned from the Middle East) at BC’s Sunday cocktail fest last week about shame cultures- societies where the worst possible thing would be to embarrass your family or friends in a public way. Because the humiliation from this shame is so great, people behave differently than if their actions only reflected on themselves.

So, because I’m not that tough, I’ve built my own shame culture. I would give anything to turn a blind eye to everything the ex has done, listen to his begging, crawl into bed with him for the weekend, and stop being so miserable. And I know that about myself. I have given in to him before, when I really wanted to believe he loved me the way I love him and that this time would be different. And the other night when he said all the right things would normally have been my cave-in point.

But, the shame culture kicked in. This time, I didn’t keep it all to myself and pretend he was treating me well. I told. Everyone. All the wedding guests. All of my close friends. Co-workers. My family (who I always try to brag about him to). The bartender at our favorite bar (last night’s first bourbon since this happened was SO good). All of you.

So this time, when I get weak, when I want to take him back because it would feel better in the short run, the shame will kick in. I’d have to tell all of those people, who know what he did, that I was staying with him. And that shame would be worse than the embarrassment of telling them how I was wronged in the first place.

It’s not easy. Last night I would have given my left eyeball to tell him to come upstairs to bed and have him there to lean against and fall asleep. But this morning, when I walked past him sleeping on the couch, grabbed my purse, and headed out the door to work (yes, I’ve rejoined the world today), I knew I had made it one more night.

And that next week, he won’t be there tempting me to cave in. He’ll be on his mom’s couch instead.



Filed under Relationships, Soul Searching

7 responses to “Culture of Shame

  1. Yvonne

    You are a tough cookie and absolutely doing the right thing! When you look back on this in a few months, or a year, you will be so proud that you didn’t give in to him. Shame culture rules! 🙂

  2. missprint

    Good for you! That strategy makes perfect sense. Be strong, and remember, there is no way he deserves you.

  3. Nancy in CT

    Good for you, stay strong. Remember, time wounds all heels.

  4. Exactly! Every bad relationship is cloaked in secrecy. Good for you for realizing this and using it to help yourself get through this.
    I send you good vibes this weekend.

  5. Lina

    Little steps toward him being gone. Every evening say “made it through one more day,” and every morning is “made through it through one more night.” I did that when my grandmother died, and it diverts your attention into something other than just focusing on him and what happened

  6. I have a particular friend I used to call in Los Angeles when I felt the way you are feeling, and she would kick my ass over the phone. Sometimes I couldn’t reach her and left a message, then she’d call and leave me a message, kicking my ass in my voicemail. Maybe you have a friend like this? If so, have her kick your ass right now so that he’s on someone else’s couch and not yours.

  7. Janine Falcon

    I think you can safely call this a milestone life event for you. (Understatement, maybe?)
    Sometimes we forget to measure success in the strong moments — we let our weak moments define us too often. You, in all this, are very, very strong, very smart and very aware, and frankly, that you are all these things in the face of such betrayal and heartbreak is inspirational. You’re going to be better than all right likely sooner than you expect. Well done.

    And yeah — now’s a really good time to turf him out on his jack-ass. Your couch could be used for better things. Like gathering dust.

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