Shame Off You: Embracing Life with a Disability, Rejecting Shame

Hello readers,

Remember that post I said I was convicted to write but didn’t feel ready to tackle? This is it.

I felt it apropos to deal with this topic in February, with Valentine’s Day coming up. Valentine’s Day is about love, which in turn leads to positive words and positive emotions. Yet as we know, many people with disabilities deal regularly with negative emotions. One of these is shame.

I have a confession to make. I have been ashamed of having CP my whole life.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I didn’t cause it. I have nothing to be ashamed of. The shame in itself is what’s bad, and it dishonors God. I’ve heard those things over and over and yet, I can never quite kick the shame. Sometimes I even resent people for telling me not to feel it because they don’t know. They’re not 30 and living with their folks because they are unable to drive and their town has no resources and their folks have little to no extra money. They didn’t get kicked out of jobs because of their disability, get judged, or watch other people get the things they wanted. They don’t struggle to do things little kids can do with no effort.

Well, while that’s a natural reaction, I’ve decided I don’t want to stay there. It will not make me a better person. In fact, it could make me a bad person.

Have any of you ever seen Once Upon a Time? If not, I highly recommend it; it’s a great show. Anyway, I’m not gonna spoil anything, but in Season 3, we meet Zelena, AKA the Wicked Witch of the West (yes, that one). We find out her famous green skin comes from envy, and perhaps, buried shame (that’s my take, not the writers’). She watched another character get what she wanted–every bit of it. She was given up as a baby, unloved, and judged. And given every opportunity to change, she just couldn’t do it.

Seeing Zelena got to me, and it’s not just because we both love emeralds.

Now, I am not saying that if you have a disability and you feel shame, you will become a Zelena or another bad person. That’s a natural emotion and you need to have a safe place to express it. But I am here to tell you and myself now: the people, the voices, the circumstances, that shamed you?

They are wrong. Shame off you.

What is it about your particular situation that causes shame? Is it where you live or with whom? Is it something you do, that “experts” call noncompliance or a “behavior?” Is it that no one seems to see the real you?

Whatever it is, do all you can to change it, reaching out for help when needed. If you can’t change it, or if the situation won’t change despite what you and others do, it’s time to be proactive. Learn to say, “No more shame. I am worthy. I am loved. I am able. I am PROUD of myself.” If you’ve got a higher power or a holy book, those help tremendously, too. Deal with the shame, the envy, the resentment–as much and as often as you need to. But then, walk on.

Shame. Off. You.



  1. Thank you for this… it’s very encouraging to me as well, dealing with being transgender. There’s so much shame that comes with being something that other people see as lesser or wrong or despicable, even if you know cerebrally that it’s not your fault. I really appreciate this.

    1. You hit the nail on the head there (pardon the cliché; as a writer I should know better but sometimes these things just work). Knowing something *intellectually* is way different than knowing it on a level where it does some good. I think we all struggle with that in different areas, and we have to get to points that we can either override our emotions, or trust God and ourselves to get us to that point. It certainly doesn’t help when people are telling you what to feel either, but as I keep reminding myself, you can only change what you do, not what they do.

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