Suffering from deep shame and wounded self-esteem is often interlinked with toxic relationships or habits or some forms of disorders. The causes of shame may come from our compulsive addictive behavior related to sex, gambling, alcohol, etc etc. If you truly want to recover from your deep shame, you have to put an end to whatever activities or relationships or habits that undermine your self-esteem. You have a put a final full-stop to this chapter of your life. A full-stop must be a full-stop and not a comma or a semi-colon. In other words, you cannot compromise with those toxic elements in your life that is playing havoc with your self-esteem.
I gained this insight many years ago when I was trying to break my addictive smoking habit. After smoking for several years, I realized that the cigarette-smoking habit was bad for my health. I tried to give up the habit. I succeeded in breaking the habit by not smoking for several months. I thought I had succeeded in conquering this habit. But I was wrong. One evening, I told myself that it would alright if I could just smoke one cigarette- just one cigarette. And that one cigarette undermined all my months of effort. I started smoking all over again.
Later on, I tried to conquer the habit. I managed to stop smoking for almost one year. This time, I was confident that I had succeeded. I became overconfident and I relaxed my guard. One evening after a dinner with friends, I was in a joyful mood. And a friend offered me a cigarette. I accepted it without hesitation. And that one cigarette is like a pivot on which my life hinged. That one cigarette compromised my one year of non-smoking efforts and put me back into square one. I started my smoking habit once again. What finally terminated my cigarette habit was the pipe because pipe-smoking has less nicotine and is therefore less addictive. When I finally put down my pipe, I was weened away from my cigarette habit for good.
The moral of the story is this. Once you decide to close the chapter of your life with whatever toxic elements in your world, don’t ever compromise later on. In `Believing In Myself’, the authors, Earnie Larsen & Carol Hegarty, reinforce this important message on closure-
“What could be harder on one’s self-esteem than to be continually drawn back into a toxic relationship, or any toxic situation? Many of us, desperately trying to break free from an addictive stranglehold, make heartfelt, heroic efforts to break out. But ultimately, failing to walk all the way away, we slip right back, inch by inch, into the hell from which we had almost escaped.
When a situation has been deemed lethal, when we come to understand that to stay is to sacrifice self-esteem, then closure, and only closure, can set us free.Closure does not mean sort of separating. It means getting out all the way. It means the relationship is over and there is no possibility of going back… Out means out. Closure means canceled, kaput, the end.”
Successful closure means being open to the new as well as closed to the old.