Surviving the shame

13 March 2015

Hazy memories of taking shots and giving a stranger a lap dance are what usually cross your mind before you open your eyes after a night of heavy partying.

The next step is to frantically feel yourself up, to make sure your virtue is intact and some necrophiliac did not molest you while you were passed out cold outside the club.

Some are luckier than most, they wake up from a wild night with their friends in their own beds; being cuddled to death by their best friend.

Others not so much, they find themselves in bed with the obese bartender, with no shred of clothing on their back and a condom wrapper stuck to their hair.

In the corner of the room will be the Grim Reaper’s cousin, who feeds off the morning after a party shame, urging you in a hoarse voice to “feel the shame, light it ablaze and let it consume your soul.”

If you don’t drink, kudos to you, but those who do know exactly what I am talking about. It often starts off innocently with some drinks or dinner after work as you would not have eaten anything all day.

However, it all ends one way, with the shame, the shame of not having any recollection of what happened the previous night. Waking up next to someone you would never have hooked up with if you had been sober amplifies the shame, or if you caused a scene that subsequently led to a restaurant/club banning you.

The shame, deep, crippling pain that often transforms into self-loathing, mars the lives of people in their 20s and early 30s who over-indulge in intoxicating substances.

However, the shame’s strong point is that one soon forgets and before the week is up there are more even shameful shames you will feel ashamed of.

The shame can over-power you, if you give into its advances, and it can put you into a trance where you cannot get any work done, and all you care about is the shame.

The secret is to devise a plan earlier on in your drinking career on how to never have the shame. Some people may say not drinking or drinking in moderation is the answer, but we all know they are just sticks in the mud. If the shame is too much for you to live with, the first suggestion is that you commit your life to the Lord (until you backslide again) and walk around giving testimony of what led you to change your shameful ways.

Most Christian organisations will welcome you with open arms and use you as a poster child of what becomes of you when you are “of the world and not simply in the world”.

But, knowing most of you shame magnets, it won’t be too long before you convince yourself that “witnessing” in a bar is just as good and before you know it, they kick you out for being so drunk you no longer see straight.

Too drastic? Well you could become Chloe from the series Don’t Trust the B**** in Apartment 23. She went to AA for one sole purpose, to talk about the shame with a bunch of random people, who also have shame, some worse than her own, until she no longer felt the shame.

I will advise you to tread carefully here though, storytelling is addictive (ask any writer) and you may find yourself in search of the shame just so you have more shameful stories to tell.

You could also avoid anyone and everyone present when you declared that D.B Woodside had nothing on you and you started stripping in the streets, and torturing people with your pot belly.

You would also do well to avoid anyone who might know someone who was present at your shameful moment. Give it a couple of weeks and there will be someone who has had a more scandalous shameful encounter than you, and remember out of sight, out of mind.

The other alternative would be to become a recluse for a couple of weeks. Put in leave at the office, tape up your windows, close the curtains/blinds and seal the door from the inside until you feel safe enough to come out.

Tell your relatives and friends that you have gone to a foreign country, lest they show up at your house with the police out of fear that you died in there. You may emerge a grouch like the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, but who cares, as long as the shame has vanished.

The all time favourite is to continue drinking until the shame is gone. If you think it has dissipated and you think of it again, drink some more.

Do not listen to anyone who tells you that you drink too much; maybe the problem is not you, it’s them. They drink too little or do not drink the right way.

So drink friend; drink until you have new shame that makes the shame you were trying to forget look like nothing.
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The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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