The Control and Shame Spiral

by Deborah Schiefer

It starts with an inoccuous phone call. The curveball’s been pitched, plans change, life seemingly unravels.

Fight, flight, freeze, fawn.

One inoccuous phone call somehow morphs into the catalyst for a crashing world. Emotions run high and in the moment, it all seems so logical.

Because, for your fractured mind, it is logical. Especially for those survivors with complex trauma, your brain has been trained to see catastrophic risk and danger in the loss of control.

“Where does pride fit into this?”

That’s what my therapist asked me a few weeks back. Right now, I’m not sure. All I can see is the shame.

Do you ever feel that, too? The shame that reaches its claw-like fingers into the spaces of your mind, digging in and taking hold.

You can’t control this? You don’t have it all together? You’re a failure. This can only end horrifically and it’s all your fault. You’re such a bad person/caregiver/leader.

And then we hide in shame, we run in fear, or we fight with the aggression of someone who cannot find the grace love themself completely.

But are those true? Our inability to account for every potential curveball, shade of grey, or circumstance doesn’t dictate our value and worth. Our ability to control every outcome doesn’t negate the unique light we bring to the world.

There is pride in needing to always hold full control, yes. But there’s also so much shame. Shame that isn’t ours to carry but was laid on us through the actions of others – an unspoken lesson in a time of extreme vulnerability when we needed to take hold of anything that could keep us safe.

And doesn’t that make so much sense? Because pride so very often covers our shame.

But this shame isn’t keeping you safe. It never did. It isolates and alienates. It whispers lies into our ears that hold us in the depths of our trauma. It slows and halts our healing.

It needs to be called out by name.

And when you do, you take that first step, reaching forward for healing. You open yourself up to the hard but so very worth it work of vulnerability and truth-seeking.

You learn to lay down the shame and pick up the reality of who you are.




Find your fight – D.S.

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