After Trauma, Deconstructing Shame

Guilt, Shame, Self-Blame

After someone has been traumatized, some things are meant to be deconstructed. Shame is one of them.

Deconstruct is a verb.

It implies action and movement.

You can emerge from trauma as you deconstruct the shame you feel—
even shame that doesn’t actually belong to you. 
(Much of shame after trauma is that kind of shame.)

Deconstructing means, in this sense, to piece apart the reasoning that has caused you to carry shame related to your trauma.

You’ve likely been over your shame a zillion times, but this type of evaluating is different. You will take a bigger-picture look as you also feel whatever comes up. This can be tense, difficult work but, in the process, you can begin to see that shame about what you endured, or what you did to survive, don’t have a place here. You may still feel shame but it doesn’t really match the reality. As you deconstruct this shame you may find that what you are feeling are the effects of having been scapegoated. This often happens to victims of trauma and abuse. When this happens the victim ends up carrying the shame for what the other person, persons or group did. Much of this is unconscious. I will write more about this in other posts.

For now, remember this when shame creeps in. It’s one of the ways you begin to deconstruct what this shame is about. The practice of trauma recovery is to take those until-now buried, neglected, scary, shame-filled memories and thoughts, in whatever shape they present themselves today, and begin to deconstruct them, and your relationship to them. You’ve likely done this before so this may not be new. But the notion of deconstructing the shame, and becoming curious about it in order to gain distance from it, is something new to try. (More on that in another post, too.)

You are both repairing something that was hurt or violated and, at the same time, you are growing. This is called integration. The is how you eventually assign meaning to this trauma, as opposed to the trauma assigning meaning—and shame—to you.  

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

About the author 

Meredith Resnick

A licensed clinical social worker, Meredith is a member of the International Association for Journal Writing, the C.J. Jung Club of Orange County, California, and an associate member of the Trauma Research Foundation. She has a special interest in healing through the expressive arts.

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