You want the sort answer... no, your shame is not justified.
I wanted to start this post because I think it's a subject that has recently been at the front of my mind. Shame and embarrassment are often linked. We can feel shame about something we are embarrassed about and vise-versa. But is that shame ever really justified?
I don't think there is such thing as justified shame. Why should we even feel ashamed of our actions, with the exception of bad choices. But strangely we seem to feel the most shame about the things we have no control over. How many times have you apologised today for something that wasn't your fault?
Maybe it's came with age, maybe I'm just having a realisation but it's better later than never. I remember it starting back when I was a teenager and not wanting to go to the doctors if it was concerning gynaecological problems or if they would have to see my breasts. I remember not wanting to get a bra fitting because it would feel like I was exposing myself, open to scrutiny. Changing what I wear, feeling I need to justify myself for wanting to dress nice or do my make up or have my nails done. I can't express the link but I know it's there, I did this through feelings of embarrassment and shame.
I have an emotional moment, I cry or get upset, I get angry and I apologise. Why? Why do I apologise for feeling? It sounds ridiculous when you put it like that, but it's the truth; I apologise for feeling. Our feelings are always justified, even if you feel it with more power there is a reason in there somewhere and it is justified. Might be from the way we've been treat in the past or in the way we've been conditioned to view the world. But they are justified!
I think the thing with shame and embarrassment is that it's contagious. It's like a disease that spreads. Girls getting taught to pretend periods aren't a thing. Boys getting taught how to be man. Media and TV telling us we aren't living a good life unless..? It breeds in us. The only way to break this cycle is to speak out.
I'm trying to life an unapologetic life, but it is difficult and I do struggle. But no longer am I going to be too embarrassed to put my health first. I will be honest about the reasons I want or don't want to do something but also know I don't have to give a reason; that is my prerogative. I get emotional, I feel hard and I cry a lot. I'm struggling with feeling like a "real" woman with my gynaecological problems, my boobs are huge and awkward and I've gained weight to size 16. What if I'm not a good step-mam and what if my dogs don't love me as much I love them?
Whats amazing is that the minute you just come out and say some of these things people respond in kind. All it takes is for one teenage girl at ask in a crowd of friends who has a tampon because mother natures came to say surprise. One lad to say in front of his mates, man I cried like a baby when that happened. One person to respond, feel it, let it out, it's fine. And similarly this is also contagious. We need to create a new okay and a healthier social norm.
I do think we're in a turn of the tide. Family planning is seeing bigger numbers than ever, not because kids are now are a lost cause but because they know it's there if they need it and they'll actually use it. Same for mental health services, more people are accessing it because the stigma is being brought down. This is something we need to work on together.