Healing shame can change your life. It’s really that simple. No, it isn’t easy. But that’s how powerful untreated shame can be.
This episode of Living From Happiness, with Dr. Melanie Harth and Beverly Engel, takes a deep dive into healing the shame of childhood sexual abuse.
National expert Beverly Engel is Melanie’s guest as the two of them explore some of the many unhealthy consequences of shame. An acclaimed advocate for victims of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, Beverly’s a psychologist and best-selling author who’s published 22 books, including four bestsellers on emotional abuse.
Her most recent book is Freedom at Last: Healing the Shame of Childhood Sexual Abuse.
Even though the subject matter may feel dark and heavy, the reality is that millions of people, both men and women, suffer deeply from the shame of having been sexually abused as children.
And that shame can become an insidious self-saboteur, holding you hostage, never allowing you to live a full, rich life.
There are many significant, often-hidden, negative health consequences of having experienced childhood sexual abuse (CSA). As Beverly writes:
“CSA survivors have a significantly higher risk of medical, psychological, behavioral, interpersonal, and social difficulties. Systemic reviews have also specifically established that CSA is a risk factor for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociative patterns, sexual problems, relationship problems, sexual exploitation, intimate partner violence, suicidality, substance abuse, eating disorders, and educational difficulties. But all those effects and risk factors pale in comparison to one particular consequence of child sexual abuse—shame.”
The Very Good News
Bad things happen to very good people. When you understand how much can be done to heal the shame of those early childhood wounds, your life will change for the better, in ways you may not even be able to imagine at this point.
As Beverly wrote in Freedom at Last, “being reminded of your own abuse is not necessarily a negative thing. This is because many former victims are in so much denial that being reminded of what happened to them can help them get out of denial, a major problem for many former victims. The more you can face the truth about what happened to you, the healthier you can become.”
This episode takes a fearless look at the truth about what happened, and offers lots of ideas, suggestions, and evidence-based strategies to help folks begin the transformational journey of healing themselves into wholeness.
Finally, please don’t expect this to be a horrible downer of a show. These two women offer wide-open, heartfelt personal experiences and professional guidance into a taboo subject that must be openly talked about. For that is where the healing lives.
My Personal Story of CPTSD and Shame
This episode of Living From Happiness was personal for me. I was sexually abused by a family member as a child. And while it’s true that I’ve done a lot of good therapy processing and healing my own C-PTSD, reading Beverly’s wonderful book reminded me of the profound impacts of those early experiences.
C-PTSD, or developmental trauma, is exquisitely painful. And the pain from those developmental, psychological, and emotional wounds can last a lifetime, unless you get help to heal.
For a long time, I was really good at pretending away how I felt. For too many years, I gave myself away believing that my job in life was to be as perfect as possible, do the “right” thing according to everyone else, and make everyone else happy.
Eventually though, my pretending started falling apart, and I got to the point where I really hated myself. No matter how great we think we are at hiding from the pain, chronic, toxic shame will never disappear on its own.
And that, my friends, is a hell hole I don’t wish on anyone.
I didn’t know that I was suffering from CPTSD, or developmental trauma. Back in the dark ages, when I was younger, complex PTSD didn’t even exist as a recognizable (to the experts) thing. But thanks to neuroscience research, there’s so much good data to help those of us who suffer with it.
Some good therapies such as trauma therapy, IFS (Parts Therapy), and EMDR have been developed that demonstrate successful results.
The thing about CPTSD and healing shame is that there’s a world of hope and possibility on the other side of whatever bad things happened to you.
The Santa Fe Therapist Approach to Healing Shame & CPTSD in Santa Fe, NM
It takes so much courage to make that phone call or send an email asking for help! And then, opening the cage that’s been protecting your heart can be terrifying. I really relate to these feelings .. it’s the same for me when I need to ask for help.
When you’re struggling with shame, you have no idea who to trust or even what it feels like to trust someone else. “I don’t feel safe” is one of your strongest subconscious core beliefs.
But you absolutely can’t keep living so small and scared anymore. So you’ve got to dive off the edge of the world you know, closing your eyes and hoping it’s all gonna be OK. Because diving has got to be better than living the way you are.
It’s OK to Ask for Help
I’m here to tell you yes, it will be OK—more than OK. I’ve been there myself. When I was younger, there was a time when I hated who I had become as a result of unprocessed bad things that happened in childhood. All my crappy coping behaviors, like drinking too much, were suffocating me and making the people I loved miserable.
What to do? I got so desperate that I was forced into asking for help. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, for reals. But as I began walking the path of healing a lifetime of suffering and shame, my life started changing for the better almost immediately.
And while my life began getting better, the truth is that it wasn’t a ton of fun at the beginning. There was a lot of toxic sludge to clean out of my thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs about the world.
Honestly, though? My life was at stake, and I wasn’t willing to give up on myself.
It gets better, my friend; it really does. But you’ve got to put in the effort to make it better. And that whole terrifying thing is so much easier, more effective, and long-lasting when you have a seasoned professional guide walking with you every step of the way.
The Santa Fe Therapist
I’m Melanie, and I love helping people who are ready to work with healing shame. In balancing the science of therapy with the art of healing, I’ll create an innovative program for you that sets you on a path of success from the very first session.
My compassionate, creative approach weaves together my ability to hear below the surface of the words, advanced degrees, years of specialized training, professional experience, and my own healing around trauma.
I use the latest neuroscience findings as I combine Western systems, Eastern wisdom, Earth-based practices, as well as creative, innovative ideas to help you process, heal and begin building your future.
My clients usually work with me once a week for 6 to 12 months. And some continue every other week for another few months. As we work together, you’ll be getting tools for long-term success and learning and using strategies and techniques to serve you for many years.
You’ll work hard for sure. But won’t all be horrible and terrible! I love sharing ideas about good books and films and laughing together once in a while.
My hope for you is that you’ll feel safe every step of the way as you transform “I don’t feel safe” into “Yes, I’m safe and well and happy.”
Online Therapy for CPTSD in New Mexico
Online therapy helps you find the time away from day-to-day pressures to calm your nervous system. It also makes it easy and convenient to process emotions and learn new neuroscience techniques to cope with challenges, heal the past, and begin building your future.
I strongly believe in the power of online counseling. Along with the research that proves its effectiveness, I see the positive benefits for clients every week. Please click here if you’ve got questions about online therapy.
Online counseling from anywhere in New Mexico, including Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos, Los Alamos, Pecos, Las Vegas, Tesuque and El Dorado.
Begin Therapy for CPTSD and Healing Shame in Santa Fe, NM
You don’t have to struggle alone anymore with feeling overwhelmed, afraid, and helpless.
Therapy for CPTSD can make a world of positive difference in your life.
All you have to do is send me an email to schedule a free, 15-minute phone consultation: email@example.com.
Let’s get you feeling better as quickly as possible.
Other Services From The Santa Fe Therapist
The Santa Fe Therapist specializes in several areas of health, wellbeing, healing and recovery. I know that one size never fits all. My services are individualized to each client, and are based on your values, your needs and desires, and your goals.
I provide individual adult counseling and guidance in Santa Fe, NM and throughout New Mexico for: