Introducing 'Beyond Shame' – A New Column by Lorraine Lee

By Lorraine Le, September 25, 2023

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Beyond Shame is a mission-driven column, aimed at destigmatizing difficult human experiences, offering insights and strategies to empower personal growth, healing, and deeper connections.

R. A. P. E.

To this day, I still struggle to say or spell out the word in my head... let alone out loud. Not about the act, or the topic, or the experiences of others, but in relation to my own trauma.

But 'shame?' Now that’s a word I can definitely relate to. 

The dictionary defines shame as "an uncomfortable or painful feeling of guilt or humiliation because of your own or someone else's bad behavior."

In my own definition, I know shame to be my longest friend. Undyingly loyal, it has shaped who I am to my core. I have barely known myself without it, and I barely remember my life before it came along.

From 19 years of age, roughly halfway through my first year of University, I experienced a series of sexually traumatic events involving multiple people, many of whom were much older than me. My body became a channel for their darkest shame and secrets, and the birthplace of my own.

Already violated, I was told that if I didn't start acting like I was enjoying what was happening to me, more and more people would come. Scared, but trusting that if I did what they said I could leave, I used every inch of my strength to show that I was 'enjoying' what was happening to me.

To this day, during moments where I feel vulnerable to the past, it is these images that flash into my head: The flashbacks of my enthusiasm, my willingness, my 'consent.'

Born from those moments, shame told me I could never share these experiences, fearing others would see the deep disgust I held for myself. I concealed, buried, and locked them away in darkness, and life seemingly moved forward.

At 31, after breaking down mentally, I finally sought trauma therapy. As it turned out, life didn't simply move forward; instead, the trauma I buried became the fertile ground for a troubling 12-year journey – panic attacks, eating disorders, abuse, unhealthy relationships, suicidality and – ironically – more sexual trauma.

That mental breakdown became the catalyst for me to finally confide in my psychologist, who had known and supported me for years through my eating disorder: "I experienced sexual trauma, and I think it’s hurt me pretty deeply."

Those words ignited something I later understood as hope. Hope for a life beyond the web of trauma, pain, mistakes and shame that so subtly controlled my thoughts and actions, hindering any capability I had for real, meaningful love, trust or self-acceptance.

It took extensive therapy, but it was the turning point in my life. Replacing 'shame' with 'C-PTSD' (Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) not only saved my life but also equipped me with the tools to move beyond shame's barriers.

Today, the very shame that once confined me fuels my purpose in my work, friendships, marriage and motherhood.

Shame is the fuel that gives meaning to my work, giving voice to its existence, its devastating impact, and its power to turn what are difficult, but incredibly human experiences into unspeakable, unthinkable black holes of suffering, secrecy and isolation from our truest selves.

Beyond Shame is a mission-driven column, aimed at destigmatizing difficult human experiences, offering insights and strategies to empower personal growth, healing, and deeper connections. 

Most importantly, this column hopes to inspire within you the courage to have the hard but essential conversations that can bring awareness to the unresolved emotional wounds that prevent all of us from experiencing the health, love and happiness we deserve.

Join me on my journey to shed light on life's challenges and to replace shame with the liberating power of openness; through sharing, we bring humanity and hope back to the difficult life experiences that impact us all, one conversation at a time.


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Lorraine Le is the Founder of Mental Health platform Inward Living, and CEO of The Kindness Dealer, a confidential and bespoke consultancy that specializes in in-depth sessions for people to gain a 'birds-eye view' of their struggles and the influences that have and continue to shape them. 

To get in touch or follow her advocacy and work, contact Lorraine through the WeChat ID: growwithlorraine or follow @growwithlorraine on Instagram, and @growwithlorraine on YouTube.

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[Cover image courtesy of Lorraine Le]

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