The After-Burn: A Lesson in Shame and Victim Mentality

TARDIS // Copyright BBC

Image copyright the BBC

Never has the desire for time travel been so strong as it was two weeks ago.

***Below is a detailed description of my recent injury. If you do not feel comfortable reading, I completely understand – just skip to the next image.

I was cleaning my kitchen, putting away food, and decided to tackle the simmering chicken broth in my crockpot instead of leaving it until morning. I drained it, leaving out all the chicken bones and poured the healthy, delicious broth into a container and put the lid on. The lid didn’t feel tight enough so I pushed on it to get more air out, or something equality idiotic. The lid gave way, followed by my fist and arm. I displaced about half of the broth all over my kitchen.

(The kitchen was in better shape than I was.)

A trip to the ER, two follow-up appointments, and ten days later, the resulting first- and second-degree burns almost to my elbow are beginning to heal, in a very painful way.

The Time Machine, 1960

Image copyright Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images

That’s enough to make me want time travel.

Or at least a fast-forward button.

Some days are easier than others. Work is a struggle when you type all day with a hand injury – my dad can testify to this as well with his own adventures (that’s a story for another time). Typing was difficult at best, but I’m pretty good at the one-handed typing thing and I can use a mouse pretty handily with my non-dominant hand too.

The hardest part is the self-esteem bubble bursting.

This whole situation is my own fault. Whether or not it was a bad set of conditions or just a dumb accident, I don’t have anyone to blame but me for what happened.

But there’s a difference between accepting blame and wallowing in shame.

So here’s the lesson I’ve had to learn the past few weeks…all over again. Shame is natural, but it’s not there to breathe it in and hide in it like it’s your favorite cubbie hole.

This is what happens when you live in shame and let it define you:

You become a person that can’t see the light of day that so bright it’s blinding you. Instead, you have a glimpse of a cloud and it shuts down your day. One thought about how you could have done something else to avoid these feelings and you fall into a never-ending pit of despair – at the drop of a hat. You live under a rock, in a hole, behind the curtain, and shut out any hope of ever being “you” again. Shame tells you you’re worthless and stupid and can’t do anything right. It tells you you’re wrong to feel happy. Shame makes you feel dirty, hopeless, and alone. It makes you feel like there is no way out of its grasp and you’ll never be able to move past it.

To all of those emotions running through your head and those that are settling into your heart, I say: me too.

Me Too! // Brené Brown // @minestronesoul

So let’s do something about it.

Reach out to someone – a family member, a friend, a pastor or caregiver, or even me. Chances are they’ve been through something similar, even if it’s nothing like what you’re going through, and just talking it out with a listening ear will help you move from shame into owning your pain and growing because of it.

If you want to talk about what you’re going through, you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, or email.


2 thoughts on “The After-Burn: A Lesson in Shame and Victim Mentality

  1. On the night this incident happened, I didn’t get the full story until hours later. I was in another room when it happened, and my priority was just to get Jazz to the ER. I told her, “I don’t care how it happened, I just want you to get better.”

    It was several days before it struck me that that’s exactly God’s attitude toward us. He doesn’t care how we got burned (or even if we did it intentionally); he just wants to heal us. That’s how love works.


  2. Jazz, you have only joined the ranks of the human race. I once had to get three stitches because I accidentally caught myself instead of a trout with a fishing hook. Love how you bring this up. And Dave, I love that picture of how God treats us. 🙂


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