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Shame & Guilt

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So, I've been working through trying to accept my Ghsv2 diagnosis since Sept 2011. Today while feeling a bit down I decided to explore a little bit on my emotions. They came down to two things: Shame and Guilt.

So, I decided to look up Shame and Guilt to explore these two emotions a bit more.

Reactions to Guilt and Shame

Because of the differences between shame and guilt (who I am versus what I did), people respond to each emotion differently. Guilt, because it emphasizes what someone did wrong, tends to elicit more constructive responses, particularly responses which seek to mend the damage done. Guilt is tied to beliefs about what is right and wrong, moral and immoral. When we violate one of these moral guidelines, it causes us to feel guilty over our actions and seek to fix what we have done (see cognitive dissonance). As a result, guilt is an important tool in maintaining standards of right and wrong in individuals and society as a whole. As such, guilt can often be used as a tool to overcome conflict.

Shame, on the other hand, emphasizes what is wrong with ourselves. It has a much more inward focus, and as such, leads shameful parties to feel poorly about themselves, rather than simply the actions they have taken. The result is often an inward-turning behavior -- avoiding others, hiding your face, removing yourself from social situations. Therefore, shame can be problematic, as it is often less constructive than guilt. In fact, shame can lead to withdrawal from social situations and a subsequent defensive, aggressive, and retaliatory behavior, which only exacerbates conflict, rather than alleviating it.[6]

Shame can also lead to other types of behavior, many of which serve little or no constructive role. People cope with shame in many ways. However, few get at the actual source of the emotion.

I then realized...I don't have guilt...I don't feel guilty for enjoying an experience with someone I cared for; even if things didn't turn out as I'd hoped.

So then, why if I don't feel guilty, am I at times treating myself as though I AM WRONG..

I can't explain why this resonated with me...I just hope it resonates with someone else out there as well.

Source: http://www.beyondintractability.org/bi-essay/guilt-shame

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I've actually read your post several times since you posted it, and it's thought provoking.

I don't feel guilty about how I came to have herpes, either. I got it from someone I love deeply, and I have no regrets. But, like you, I sometimes treat myself as if I did something wrong. I think, though, that the cause for that is not our individual guilt or shame. It's not that we violated our own moral standards, but that we've been so brow-beaten since birth with the importance of (at least by appearance) living up to societal standards, and those standards don't embrace having herpes, no matter how you got it.

Frankly, I don't care that I have herpes. I don't have any emotional or psychological issues with it. I'm not tortured with remorse, anger or regret over the fact that I have the virus. It doesn't bother me to know that I'll always have it. I couldn't give less of a shit. I'm only mildly irritated when I get an ob. I don't get depressed over it, or crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head. Life goes on as usual. It doesn't get in my way.

But... somewhere deep down in the recesses of my mind, I know that if it was commonly known that I have herpes, the people I work with (and share the restroom with) would see me differently somehow. They'd judge me, as people have a propensity to do, based on societal standards, and the person they've known me as would recede into the background of their minds.

So, yes, on some level I feel shame, but it's not shame over having herpes. I feel ashamed for allowing myself to succumb to the small-mindedness of society. I feel ashamed for hiding behind a facade rather than face the hypocricy straight on. I feel ashamed for being afraid of losing the respect and friendship of people I care about. And because of that fear, I end up compromising my own moral credibility, and I feel ashamed of myself for that.

My problem isn't herpes. My problem, and any guilt and shame I feel because of it, is my own failure to stand up for myself, and for what I believe to be true about myself... that herpes has nothing to do with who or what I am as a person. That's true for all of us.

I know this is way more of a response than you bargained for, and way more than I expected to reveal about myself, but I can't help but think that I'm not the only one who feels this way. I've always maintained that those of us with herpes are the worst offenders at perpetuating the stigma. I'm living proof that's true, and I'm not very proud of that, either.

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You both have described very well what many of us feel......Somehow, sometimes life throw you with a few pleasant surprises that makes you feel you are not alone or that others are in worst situation ....for example, the executive that droped her bag and when I helped pick her stuff, there it was Valacylcovir bottle, then after seeing her panicked face, I said dont worry I have H too or the perfect couple, the next door neighbors that make you feel like a terrible husband when you see them toghether bragin about their happiness to later find our they are divorcing because he was on multiple affairs.....All of us have our dark side full of those things that makes us feel guilt and shame.... so if there is one thing I have to thank H, is that now I am more compasionate and do not judge anyone based on the "cover".

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