This is the message from the sister of Caroline flack who sadly took her own life last week at age forty with her whole life ahead of her. Said to have been violent towards her partner Caroline did not want to face trial. The pain and shame of being misrepresented and misunderstood could have been what led her to take her life and it sounds like the onslaught of the world which was not kind pushed her over the edge.
Caroline’s boyfriend has spoken about it being because she was crippled by shame and embarrassment. Shame has no mercy, it is says we are just wrong, bad, faulty goods and is what makes this devastation happen.
“Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging. Women often experience shame when they are entangled in a web of layered, conflicting and competing social-community expectation. Shame create s feeling s of fear, blame and disconnect”
Dr Brene Brown
Shame impacts the lives of many people and indeed it has gripped me frozen at times. But finding a way out of its control over us is perhaps a good idea and could go a long way toward helping people choose life.
No, Caroline did not know she was being controlled by shame, rather, she was just trying to find a way to not have to be put on trial in front of the world!
Could this be a big chunk of Caroline’s story? Perhaps, she was entangled in a competing social-community that spoke the words of disconnect, threat and blame.
Perhaps if people were just a little kinder this may never have happened, perhaps if Caroline received kind words instead of derogatory threatening ones she may still be here today.
Whilst we cannot know this for sure we do know that:
“When someone is unkind to us we think it is an indictment of us as a human being. But its not. It says nothing about us, it says everything about the person who is being unkind”
This is something I tell my clients today and whilst its easier said than felt its a baby step to healing. To understanding that the unkindness that they have experienced in their lives can be an opportunity for becoming a warrior of the heart rather than a recipient of shame. I’m thinking of the lion king and the baby lion who grows courage to roar louder that the hyenas who just want to be nasty.
On an individual level we need to grow courage, the courage to share our story with a kind, emphatic and safe person and when we can begin to do this then our shame cannot continue because it is the power of human love and kindness that restores belonging.
The community, the media, the spotlight tormented Caroline but this community is made up of individuals, of people like you and me who are following the herd of hyenas because they have not learnt how to roar from their hearts and just be kind.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, you can get confidential support at the Samaritans by calling 116 124 or visiting https://www.samaritans.org/wales/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/
Anxiety UK – 03444 775 774
Cruse bereavement care – 0808 808 1677
Survivors of bereavement by suicide – 0300 111 5065