I felt shame today. I recently started a Masters program online and have been a bit overwhelmed trying to organize the different requirements of coursework and juggle assignments along with my full time job and Stable Moments. There was a discussion assignment due that was based on lengthy reading on ethics. I thought the assignment was easy enough, spent an hour or so constructing my submission and hit send. Then I got to see everyone else's submissions.
The rest of the class seemed to have been way more thorough, adding more citations and really articulating their arguments. Immediately, I wished I could delete my answer and try again. I started to become defensive in my own thoughts. "Well, how was I supposed to know they wanted that structured of an answer." Then I doubted myself. "If everyone else understood the assignment, you're obviously just not as smart." I even doubted if I belonged in the program. "Maybe you're not cut out for this." I was ashamed. I wasn't good enough.
I was self aware enough to know I was over-reacting and was able to bring myself out of the downward spiral of negative monkey chatter, but it really made me empathize with the children we serve at Stable Moments. I consider myself a successful adult, driven and dedicated to achieving my goals. I also believe I am smart, and special and overall a class act! :) So if I could feel this amount of shame, from one assignment, from one class, from people I have never met in my life, can you imagine how paralyzing the shame would be if I had no self-esteem and a general feeling of self-doubt?
The children we serve walk around KNOWING they're not cut out for this. This meaning life. School work, socializing, playing by the rules, doing well, all of that is overwhelming because they just don't feel "good at it". This is reinforced by punishments, nasty comments and poor grades.
When I felt my shame today, I would have paid for my professor to reach out and acknowledge the curriculum is difficult and let me know she's here to help. This is what is so critical in the Stable Moments model. It is our job to understand where these children come from, acknowledge that stuff is tough, and provide a glimmer of hope that they'll be alright. Everything is for a reason. Hey, who knows, maybe all of those feelings I had earlier, were meant for me to write this blog post and help other's understand the shame children with early developmental trauma carry everyday.