Shame affects us in many ways. While always unpleasant, we react to it differently. Most of us run from it. As a matter of fact, we all have at one time or another. A few turn course and run to it. Those are the ones who overcome shame.
Shame is an emotion, which means it’s in our minds. We conjure it up and react to what we create. It’s all in our heads. Easier said than done, I know. But if we look at shame this way, it’s easier to overcome, easier to run toward.
Shame is like one of Don Quixote’s delusions. We give it power over us. But we can also take it away – by facing it. We’re all self-conscious by nature. Some figure out how to fight through it. As the saying goes, you can only be brave if you’re already fearful.
I suppose I’m talking to myself. Outwardly, I project that I’m writing for the chronic pain and harm reduction community. Deep inside though, I feel at times that I’m writing to myself. Perhaps by talking to myself aloud, I’m talking to everyone all at once. That’s the power of writing. It takes flittering thoughts and codifies it into words. In the process, it converts shame to confidence. It’s cathartic alchemy. Or it’s alchemic catharsis. Who knows? All I know is that it works for me. And I think it can work for you. That’s why I encourage disenfranchised patients to tell their stories.
Write it. Tell it. Find a medium and commit to it. Express yourself. It doesn’t have to be big. Look at Daily Remedy. Three years in and we haven’t cracked a thousand followers on any social media platform. My voice may be small, but it’s still heard – at least by those who need to hear it.
Which is the point of writing; writers, true to their message, exist for their readers. And if done well, readers identify parts of themselves through the writers they follow. It’s a relationship. It’s not meant for outsiders. So, followers or not, write for those who you believe need to read your thoughts and leave it at that.
That group is larger than you might think. Shame is far more pervasive than we believe. That’s one of its tricks. Shame deludes you into thinking you’re alone. So you hide in fear. But if you confront shame, turn thoughts into words, then you’ll find an audience larger than you’d imagine – but more importantly, more relatable.
We’re all experiencing some level of shame, some more overtly than others. It’s a shared experience.
Tell your story. People want to hear it. People need to hear it. Throughout history, the voices of those who had to courage to speak amidst great shame were the ones people remembered the most. Sometimes it happens instantaneously, sometimes later, but eventually, every voice is heard.
To the many disenfranchised patients, to those who left a clinical encounter in shame, remember, that cage of isolation you find yourself trapped in is nothing more than a self-contained prison. It’s a construct of your mind. Your own shame keeps your bound. Break free and tell your story. I’m telling mine.