Recently, my friend Janet found herself in a pickle. Out on the town with her guide dog, she discovered she was not where she thought she was. She became disoriented. Panic set in. A passer-by offered assistance. “Oh, no, but thanks,” Janet replied. “I’m just, well, out with my dog, so he can do his business.” Later that day, safe at home, Janet rued her behavior. Why had she refused the help she needed? Why had she put saving face above all else?
When I related Janet’s story to my wife, she said of our mutual friend, “I didn’t know Janet had such shame.” And it struck me that my wife was on to something. And that something is shame.
I often wonder what lies at the root of my feelings about my blindness. I exhibit denial, fear and anger. I minimize, camouflage and compensate. I become self-conscious. Now, I have the notion that behind all these reactions is shame.
To some degree, I have surrendered to and accepted blindness. Yet all has not become placid on my emotional pond. Something remains in the depths, causing little ripples on the surface. And I suspect that something is shame.
Shame is passed down from others. We learn it early on. I was fully immersed long before I started losing my eyesight at age 35. Today, having put a name to it, I want to learn more. I’ve done a keyword search and downloaded a book from Learning
Ally. It’s called Healing the Shame that Binds You. Pretty provocative title.
Written by John Bradshaw. I’ve heard he knows his stuff.
Maybe shame is unique to a select few. Maybe some escape it. But I think I’m on to something big. I don’t know how things will turn out. I’ll get back to you on this.