Really like this! Shame, I believe is at the heart of the matter, at least it was and is for me. Not just shame from addiction, but a shame deeply rooted in childhood, toxic shame that always told me I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t worthy of love, or affection, or truly anything good in this world. Healthy shame guides us and can provide us with healthy boundaries, but the toxic shame that is sometimes forced onto a child, like it was with me can decimate the defenseless child’s soul. Unfortunately this toxic shame leaves it’s imprint forever, unless, through tremendous effort one is able to give the shame back to where it belongs. In practice, this is a daily, sometimes hourly, and on occasion a by the minute process. It’s work, but worth every minute of it, and gives us the chance to be free from the prison that shame erects around our souls. John Bradshaw wrote an incredible book, entitled “Healing the Shame that Binds us”. It is an amazing guide encompassing all things shame, and for me, was a lighthouse that gave me hope. When I read those words, those intensely painful words that outlined my existence, I knew I wasn’t alone, I knew that there were others, many others, I wasn’t special, and I did not need to suffer alone. Shame keeps us isolated, and in hiding, it convinces the mind to cloak itself in an endless array of disguises, disguises that are not evident to the world and eventually are not evident to ourselves. We become experts in deception, and these skills become our reflexes, our strategies to insulate ourselves from everything and anything. Slowly, and methodically this shame chips away at our core, destroying the fabric that makes us who we are, and given enough time we will reach a point where we are unrecognizable to our own self. I have been to this place, a very dark, lonely, and hopeless place, a place without windows or doors, a place that is so vast and empty, that it must be the road to hell. In the end we do need to forgive ourselves daily, and be gentle with ourselves, and make connection a priority, even when it’s the last thing we want to do. I believe shame cannot survive exposure, it melts away in the light, and for me taking the risk and speaking or writing about my reovery in an authentic way is a solid path to recovery. Thanks for a great article!