Embarrassment Versus Shame
Truth is not determined by the number of people who believe it. Truth just is. -Lisa Neumann, Sober Identity
I had an interesting experience this morning. I was sharing some less savory details of my legal consequences with a friend in a meeting, and I began my story with “I am embarrassed to say…” He responded by asking me if it was embarrassment or shame. The question stopped me, because I had not really differentiated between the two words.
So further research revealed that embarrassment is more external, while shame is internal. At the time, my response to my friend was that I was experiencing both embarrassment and shame. His quick response was “Really? At a 12-step meeting you are embarrassed by your circumstances? Think about your audience!” Immediately I felt better, but I continued to think about the distinction, and to try think both feelings entirely through.
And, like fear, anger, many other strong emotions, embarrassment and shame can be removed when fully examined. I was feeling both ashamed and embarrassed by the external factors of my legal consequences from my addictions. Things that, at first blush, feel like they rob me of my dignity. But as I really think through what I am doing, the truth is this: I have an addiction, I have made mistakes in the past, and now I am doing all the right things that are keeping me sober one day at a time. The truth is that I am proud of the actions I am taking daily, and the icing on the cake is that these particular circumstances, which have a pretty short time frame, will ultimately give me complete legal freedom, on top of the freedom I am experiencing as a sober woman.
There is nothing in my current life about which I should be ashamed, or embarrassed. That is the truth.