Dear Charlotte,

I feel bad about myself and I don't admit it to anyone but I judge myself all the time. I think a big part of it comes from feeling ashamed of the culture I'm from. I married outside of my religious upbringing and my culture and now feel like the people I grew up with are no longer my people, and they've turned on me. 

I don't talk about this stuff with anyone but it brings me down. Why do I feel this way?


Dear Feeling Bad,

You are describing the agonising grip of shame in so many ways. Shame feeds off negative messages and then festers in silence and tells you to shush, which only adds to feeling isolated and ashamed about the shame. It gets very meta. 

It sounds like you feel judgment from different directions – from the culture you're from, and from the culture where you are now. I'm not sure if you're as judged by others as you feel, but we tend to judge what we don't understand. It's painful to feel judged and misunderstood, and shame can anaesthetise our zone of relating and push us further away from people, exiling us emotionally. Rather than turn for help, we retreat more. 

It can feel counterintuitive to talk about it, but it's what's needed. Talk with someone, whether it's a therapist, a friend, a confidante. Bring your feelings into the daylight and look at whatever is going on for you, both in your marriage and in your sense of identity and your relationship with your upbringing. 

It sounds like you have a kind of internalised scorn when you say you feel bad about yourself. If you're isolated and feeling pushed out in various ways, your scorned self can be an echo chamber of negative messages. The mind can be like a hammer that sees everything as a nail. Let in other voices that can help you be kinder to yourself and can reconnect you with a more balanced perspective. Cultural identity issues can be excruciating and I'm sorry you're going through this. However you feel, you will get to the other side! 


Do you have a question for Dear Therapist? Send it to with Dear Therapist in the subject line and Charlotte Fox Weber or Kelly Hearn will get back to you.