Shame

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When Charles first started abusing drugs, we didn’t talk about it. My frustration and fear and fear were the dominant emotions.

Was it drugs or was it mental illness? We did find out eventually that it was mental illness first and the initial drug use was a result of his wanting to feel better, or more normal. Getting to the root of the problem was an enormously difficult process.

I did talk to people I trusted.

I didn’t talk about it to everyone, though. And one time I talked to the wrong person and it somehow wound its way back to Charles and he got very upset. I was ashamed, then. He had trusted that I wouldn’t throw him under the bus.

I craved to talk about it. Yet, I couldn’t.

I wanted to protect my child from the harsh judgment of others. I knew others knew, passed judgement and gossiped about our struggles but that was the least of my worries. It was the lack of support, not the shame and gossip, that I suffered from. That was unbearable.

What I hated was how the criticism hurt Charles. I had no idea the depth of his self loathing and lack of self confidence at the time. He was so adored and so popular. Why couldn’t he see that? His talent of free styling on demand amazed his friends. His empathy for others endeared them.

He was too ashamed of his depression to talk about it. And he felt the same about heroin addiction. He was so ashamed of suicidal thoughts, he could not bring himself to tell me on that last two hours of phone calls. He chose to kill himself instead.

He might have died by suicide but it was shame that killed my son.

He didn’t get that from me. He got that from within himself and it was validated by the world around him.

That’s why shame no longer lives here. I am done with it.

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Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my youngest son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

4 thoughts on “Shame”

  1. People who shame you as the parent or Charles with the disease, need to check their own inventory. None of us are perfect. The best we can hope for is to keep an open mind and the front door open.

    Does this mean that we shouldn’t discipline our children we they do things that they know are wrong? Absolutely not, parenting is not shame, it is love. If we didn’t care, it would be a free for all. I’m in favor of a healthy balance.

  2. Shame is so powerful. I’ve had 2 “big” struggles in my life where shame came into play, but I responded in completely different ways each time. Reading this made me think about why. When I was 25 I got a DUI. I was working for my dad at the time and calling him that next morning to tell him devastated me. His response transformed that experience–right on the phone he prayed for me that I would never be ashamed of the DUI and that I would learn from the difficult lesson ahead (it was a tough year). I found that I had the freedom (from shame) to tell others about my DUI and I was shocked at the number of friends who already had one but had never uttered a word about it. The other struggle was depression. At the time (34-36) I didn’t tell many about it, and I got mixed reactions from those I did tell. Reinforces not telling. Now I will talk freely about that time, but at the time no. I was ashamed. I’m so sorry you all, especially sweet Charles, were so isolated (and even betrayed) in this. Thank you for encouraging others to talk, to not let shame win.

  3. We’re all struggling and I don’t know why we want to pretend we’re not. I’m thankful for your willingness to share so openly about your family’s struggle. It helps me and helps others and will continue to do so as your message of no shame spreads. I pray one day we will all feel free to reach out for the help we all need and in turn, be able to help others.

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