Guilt And Shame Are Different



I was in the company of a really good old friend recently whom I had not seen in years.

Our dinner conversation turned to bucket lists and I heard myself say:” My prayer is essentially to have the experience of living in this magnificent body for a time withOUT the experience of shame.”

Long pause at the table as we watch the leggy lines of a good wine creep down the insides of the glass.

She says: “Cathy.. have you ever done anything that would merit being ashamed of yourself?”

“A few times maybe. Youthful shoplifting and stuff like that.”

She looked at me with piercingly intelligent and loving eyes.

This, combined with the good Jew in her came back to me with a “Sooooooooo?”

We talked about Jews and guilt as their go-to weapon and safe-place.

I have shame.

Shame and guilt are different:


a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.


the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.

My friend didn’t seem to understand why I carried shame if I had none nothing to invite it. She wasn’t that familiar with shame. Only guilt.

We sip our wine happily loving each other, our differences and easy banter always seemingly interesting to one another.

If someone begins to let a little girl know that who she intrinsically IS is inconvenient, wrong, decidedly too different, fits some unfamiliar mold making parenting hard or impossible, NOT PERFECT

Her little cells begin to tremble in the non-safety of it all.

I have that leftover cellular tremble which has my tired mind continually dissecting stuff to dismantle the fucked-up-ness.

Low level anxiety haunts me.

After a lifetime of therapy I consider myself an extremely healthy gal.

Yet my cells still shake a little.

I’d love a rest.


2 Responses to “Guilt And Shame Are Different”

  1. Irene on July 19th, 2016

    Having been made to feel like an inconvenience much of my life, I know where you’re at. I wish I could permanently get rid of the residual crap…the important thing is to go forward and thrive as best we can…some days are easier than others. What works: going outside and recognizing that I am part of the universe, fine the way I am.

  2. Adele on July 20th, 2016

    I think when you have a very sensitive human design, which we definitely share,what we feel and take on is nothing the other is intending or can even be aware of or understand
    I have just had the gift of that painful awareness and the gift of a humongous release and certainly will still take all to heart but pray not hold it there
    It’s a hard world to understand but love is all that’s real

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