Shelly wrote a letter to the editor of the NAPERVILLE SUN entitled “The Problem of Shame in Our Community” in response to a column by Denise Crosby on heroin use titled “Sick of hearing about heroin? Keep reading.“ Shelly’s letter is included below in it’s entirety.
The Problem of Shame in Our Community
Denise Crosby wrote an important column in the July 24th Sun, entitled “Sick to death of hearing about heroin? Keep reading.” She wondered why “people don’t think it can happen in their school — certainly not in their family.”
She quoted Beth Sack, a very experienced addiction specialist at Linden Oaks Hospital at Edward, who thought the answer laid in our concern about “stigma.” Sack thought we needed to keep writing about the problem of heroin in our community because “awareness is the best preventative tool.”
Awareness is so important, I agree. If you don’t know a problem exists how can you deal with it? In a way that is obvious. But why do we keep having to invent the wheel, so to speak, around a problem that has been in this community since the first drug awareness programs began.
Heroin is nothing new in this community and has been reported on before in The Sun. So the question that should also be asked is why the stigma continues to exist?
And I would answer that not only heroin usage by our kids is something difficult to talk about, but so are so many problems that we have individually and as families. I would have preferred to see “shame” discussed in the article or another one Crosby could do.
We are so ashamed of ourselves as parents when our kids get into problems deeper then we want to believe can happen to our precious ones. We may not have done anything wrong in our parenting, but others or we can find something we should have done better. But then shame afflicts us in so many ways: our own not so nice backgrounds, our marital problems, our job losses, our own dependencies, which are innumerable, etc. etc.
In fact shame is so prevalent in our families and communities that our first defense is “denial” of the problems. Seeing is believing and if we refuse to see it, it isn’t there. Problem solved!
Of course it isn’t, but putting things off by disbelieving the truth in front of us is a profound human ability. Small problem, people can die as a result of this ability.
Certainly having a child go into rehab or worse, overdosing or committing suicide, is about as hard as it gets being a parent. I guess we all need forgiveness about something in our lives. And perhaps we can be easier on ourselves if we recognize we all carry shame or “stigma” about something. We all need to reconcile ourselves to being human and discussing the problems that come with that condition. Coming out of the closet which shame puts us into is a universal need.
For more from Naperville Sun columnist Denise Crosby on this and other issues, please follow the link bellow.