Shame is a common emotional response in adult children of alcoholic parents. When children grow up in a home filled with an unspoken addiction, it often creates a strong sense of vulnerability, helplessness, and feelings of inadequacy. Other homes in which shame can easily develop are when children grow up with depressed parents, abuse, oppression, or a death in the family.
Having to hide anything is the quintessential element of shame. Whether it’s your thoughts, feelings, mood, or the very essence of who you are, if you’re hiding a part of yourself, you’re likely experiencing shame. According to Marilyn Sorenson, PhD, author of “Breaking the Chain of Low Self-Esteem” and clinical psychologist, guilt is a feeling of having done something wrong while shame is the feeling of being something wrong. Shame penetrates down the very core of who you are.