15 thoughts on “Toxic, Chronic Shame: What It’s Like to Live with It

  • January 7, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    I’ve just come to realize that toxic shame has been at the root of so much of my anger and lashing out. If I’m called out on something, I immediately go into defense mode and try to destroy the source of shame….or who’s shaming me…or who I perceive to be shaming me. Whatever. But the point is, if someone needs to say something to me about something that I might need to change, I feel attacked, like they think I’m bad, not good enough, less than. It all played out the other night with my husband, and I can see it so clearly now…that wound from childhood that was poked once again. I know if I learn to recognize this stuff, I can change it….but boy oh boy, I am so use to that old comfort called anger…it upsetting, but almost soothing. So fucked.

  • January 7, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    I was 59 years old when I found your page and now I’m 60.i never had a way to understand my feelings or logically deal with them everything you write or post perfectly describes what I lived. I’m not crazy. I not alone. I’m gonna be ok. Thank you

  • January 8, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Yes this makes so much sense to me now. 🙁

  • January 9, 2019 at 9:44 am

    I appreciate the article but it is like so many others that identify and focus on the problem and not the solution. Thank you for the article.

    • February 5, 2019 at 8:43 pm

      Yes. Potential solutions are likely complex, but in their absence there is a tendency to feel ashamed that one is carrying toxic shame ….

  • January 9, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    I have had these horrendous symptoms for most of my life, and now I’m 50 years of age, it has taken many years of therapy to detox from this. Most of this stems from a very dysfunctional family unit, a covert narcissist father, and a mother with strong narcissist traits, with all their abuse, divide and triangulation, deceit, lies, shaming, blame and humiliation tactics. Unlike myself, my mother and sister never sought help, so they are still in the shadow and lure of the narcissistic father, even though their now divorced for nearly thirty years, he still has power over them, but I have no contact, I ignored it, I walked away from him, not contacted for some years, but he has now managed to turn my mother and especially my sister against me, because he left his will to them, even after all the abuse, his rampant womanising etc..they have fallen for his deception and his control, and he’s very bitter, because I had the audacity to walk away. I now think it’s time to ignore the rest of the family, because I’ll never properly heal, as long as he has sway over them, their sadly beyond salvation, they’ve decided to throw their loyalties to a abusive covert narcissist father, I feel betrayed and hurt, but I”l eventually get over it and move elsewhere away from them, to start afresh life, with no narcissists in my life, to heal from their toxic crap!

    • February 21, 2019 at 5:58 pm

      I’m a little late to stumble upon this, but I’m so grateful that you posted this comment. It makes me feel a little bit less alone. Your family story resonates so much with me, and though not identical, has many similarities with mine. I also lived with toxic shame since childhood, experiencing everything described in the article and much more. For most of my life, I felt like I was a monster whom nobody could ever love, and I’m still recovering from the legacy of that. I know the strength it takes to walk away from your abusers and be the one labelled as the bad person. I know the hurt and anger of massive betrayal. I’m sorry you went through this too, but sharing your story does make a difference.

  • January 9, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    “As a child, they learned that the purpose of their existence is to meet other people’s needs.” Not just meet others’ needs, but expect them and be acting on it already. I haven’t experienced the need to be needed part, but my mom certainly experiences that, and it’s so sad since her kids are grown and busy and she is single with an empty nest. It seems generational on top of familial dynamics. She and I had very different childhoods (supposedly hers was good) yet we both close-up when called out until backed into a corner when we lash out. 🙁

  • January 9, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    I read this article about toxic shame and I feel like crying because you described me. I have many of the symptoms especially feeling the emptiness in my life. I just never understood why I felt this way. I have always believed my feelings were my fault. I thought I had good parents; I still think that for the most part, but they never acknowledged or allowed me to show my feelings. Consequently, I think I do have a lot of rage and use anger to express what I wasn’t able to do as a child. I have been to several therapists; none of them have used this term. In some way, I feel better knowing it has a name. Now I need to figure a way to fix it. Thank you.,

    • January 11, 2019 at 3:15 pm


      Have you read Dr. Jonice Webb’s blog about Childhood Emotional Neglect? I find that her and Darius’ writings have been consistently the most helpful to me as I work on myself. I could’ve written your comment not too long ago, so I know where you’re coming from and where you can go!! 🙂


      • January 14, 2019 at 8:45 pm

        Thank you KW. I will check it out!

  • January 10, 2019 at 9:20 pm

    Wanted to thank you for the SHAME articles. I have many, many issues-so much so that the last psychologist I saw told me she thought I was crazy and making up the issues I brought to the table. I read as many “issue articles” as I can find but yours is the first I can remember seeing on shame. There is no end to the horror this creates.
    I’ve only come to recognize shame recently as well as having what I call black outs where I lose time i.e. My late husband made a horrible remark to me, I turned and have no idea what came next including when I may have become ‘conscious’ again. I understand this to be a protective mode. I am currently looking for a psychiatrist, hoping he/she is above the previous psychologist and can actually help.

    • January 13, 2019 at 7:53 pm

      Hi Christine,

      You’re welcome! I wish you all the best in your battle with your shame and in your search for an empathetic and competent therapist.

      Kind regards,

  • January 9, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    I hope you can find a way out of your situation. My father, to whom I haven’t spoken in years, patted my butt, my cousins’ butts, my brother’s girlfriends’ butts (and probably still pats any young girls’ butt). He didn’t stop there, either. The molestations continually worsened. Please don’t let him manipulate you into thinking you can’t leave, or that he’s not doing anything wrong. Save your child. And yourself. Godspeed.


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